Whole Roasted Stuffed Turkey

Photo by Rush Jagoe

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12 servings

  • For the Turkey
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups plus ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-pound turkey, giblets and neck removed
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2–3 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage leaves
  • Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Flour, optional
  • For the Stuffing
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • Leaves from 1 sprig
  • fresh rosemary, minced
  • 4 cups diced, day-old French bread
  • 3 cups Basic Chicken Stock (can be substituted for store-bought)
  1. For the turkey, put 1 gallon of cold water into a large stockpot big enough to hold a whole turkey plus a total 2 gallons of liquid.
  2. Stir in the sugar, 2 cups of the salt, and the pepper fl akes and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to moderate and simmer the brine for a minute, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat, add 1 more gallon of cold water, and allow the brine to cool to room temperature.
  4. Submerge the turkey in the cooled brine and let it soak in the refrigerator or a very cool place for 12–24 hours. Discard brine
  5. For the stuffing, melt the butter in a large skillet over moderate heat. Add the onions, celery, and bell peppers and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, green onions, and fresh herbs and cook for an additional minute.
  6. Transfer the cooked vegetables to a large mixing bowl. Add the French bread and gently toss to combine. Add the Chicken Stock, 1 cup at a time, gently mixing it in until the bread cubes are soft.
  7. Set the stuffing aside. (The stuffing may be made up to a day ahead and kept, covered, in the refrigerator.
  8. Bring it to room temperature before spooning it into the cavity of the turkey so that it will be thoroughly hot by the time the turkey has finished roasting.)
  9. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Scatter the chopped carrots, onions, celery, and garlic in the bottom of a large sturdy roasting pan and add 3 cups water. Set a roasting rack in the pan. Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it dry with paper towels inside and out. Slather the bird with canola oil and sprinkle it with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt, and the sage and thyme.
  10. Spoon the stuffing into the cavity of the bird. Tie the legs together with kitchen string, if you like. Set the turkey on the rack above the vegetables. Roast the turkey in the oven, basting it every 30 minutes or so with the pan drippings until the thigh juices run clear when the thigh is pricked and the internal temperature of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees, about 3.–4. hours.
  11. Transfer the turkey to a carving board or serving platter, loosely cover it with foil, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before carving.
  12. To make a simple gravy, just use the skimmed drippings. Or, make a gravy by straining the pan drippings into a bowl, discarding the vegetables. Skim and reserve the fat from the surface of the drippings.
  13. Measure this fat, then heat it in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Stir in an equal amount of flour (now you’re making a blond roux) and let it cook, stirring frequently, until lightly colored, which shouldn’t take longer than 5 minutes.
  14. Whisk in the pan drippings and cook the gravy, stirring often, until thickened, about 5 minutes longer. Serve the gravy with the roast turkey at the table.
  • from John Besh

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