Old Fashioned Stuffed Turkey
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Old Fashioned Stuffed Turkey

From America's Test Kitchen
Serves 10 to 12

 Table salt is not recommended for this recipe because it is too fine. To roast a kosher or self-basting turkey (such as a frozen Butterball), do not salt it in step 1. Look for salt pork that is roughly equal parts fat and lean meat. The bread can be toasted up to 1 day in advance.

1 turkey (12 to 15 pounds), giblets and neck reserved for gravy, if making (see note)

3 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons kosher salt (see note)

2 teaspoons baking powder

12 ounces salt pork , cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices and rinsed (see note)

1 1/2 pounds white sandwich bread (about 15 slices), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 12 cups)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter , plus extra for baking dish

1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)

2 celery ribs , chopped fine (about 1 cup)

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves

1 tablespoon minced fresh marjoram leaves

1 tablespoon minced fresh sage leaves

1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 36-inch square cheesecloth , folded in quarters

2 large eggs


1. FOR THE TURKEY: Using fingers or handle of wooden spoon, separate turkey skin from meat on breast, legs, thighs, and back; avoid breaking skin. Rub 1 tablespoon salt evenly inside cavity of turkey, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt under skin of each breast, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt under skin of each leg. Wrap turkey tightly with plastic wrap; refrigerate 24 to 48 hours.


    2. FOR THE STUFFING: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Spread bread cubes in single layer on baking sheet; bake until edges have dried but centers are slightly moist (cubes should yield to pressure), about 45 minutes, stirring several times during baking. Transfer to large bowl and increase oven temperature to 325 degrees.


    3. While bread dries, heat 4 tablespoons butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, add onion, celery, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften and brown slightly, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in herbs; cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vegetables to bowl with dried bread; add 1 cup broth and toss until evenly moistened.


    4. TO ROAST THE TURKEY: Combine remaining 2 teaspoons kosher salt and baking powder in small bowl. Remove turkey from refrigerator and unwrap. Thoroughly dry inside and out with paper towels. Using skewer, poke 15 to 20 holes in fat deposits on top of breast halves and thighs, 4 to 5 holes in each deposit. Sprinkle surface of turkey with salt-baking powder mixture and rub in mixture with hands, coating skin evenly. Tuck wings underneath turkey. Line turkey cavity with cheesecloth, pack with 4 to 5 cups stuffing, tie ends of cheesecloth together. Cover remaining stuffing with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Using twine, loosely tie turkey legs together. Place turkey breast-side down in V-rack set in roasting pan and drape salt pork slices over back.


    5. Roast turkey breast-side down until thickest part of breast registers 130 degrees on instant-read thermometer, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Remove roasting pan from oven (close oven door) and increase oven temperature to 450 degrees. Transfer turkey in V-rack to rimmed baking sheet. Remove and discard salt pork. Using clean potholders or kitchen towels, rotate turkey breast-side up. Cut twine binding legs and remove stuffing bag; empty into reserved stuffing in bowl. Pour drippings from roasting pan into fat separator and reserve for gravy, if making.


    6. Once oven has come to temperature, return turkey in V-rack to roasting pan and roast until skin is golden brown and crisp, thickest part of breast registers 160 degrees, and thickest part of thigh registers 175 degrees, about 45 minutes, rotating pan halfway through. Transfer turkey to carving board and let rest, uncovered, 30 minutes.


    7. While turkey rests, reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Whisk eggs and remaining 1/2 cup broth together in small bowl. Pour egg mixture over stuffing and toss to combine, breaking up any large chunks; spread in buttered 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Bake until stuffing registers 165 degrees and top is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Carve turkey and serve with stuffing.