Roast Turkey with Apple and Sage Dressing Recipe

From Dorothy McNett's Recipe Book.

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Roast Turkey with Apple and Sage Dressing

From Dorothy McNett's recipes at There are so many ways to cook the bird, but after all is said and done, this traditional oven roasted turkey with flavorful dressing remains my all time favorite. Sure, you can brine a turkey, barbecue one, bake it covered in a bag, microwave a small one, deep fat fry a whole bird outside, smoke one for hours, and even buy a turkey dinner already cooked and carved.
The purchasing of a raw turkey also requires some choices. What size will fit in the equipment you are using, is it frozen and how long will it take to thaw it out, should you buy organic, and how many will the bird feed, anyway? Fortunately, there are many cookbooks and turkey hotlines for answers to those questions. Allow about one hour to wash and dry the turkey, to make and stuff the turkey, and get it ready to pop into the oven. Then cook it right away, calculating roasting time using 18-20 minutes per pound as a good guide. Allow about 30-45 minutes of standing time after roasting before carving.

So perhaps we begin to think that making this whole turkey dinner is just too much work. Well, read on! The following excerpts are taken from a 1932 edition of The American Home Cook Book, assuming that you will be going out to the turkey pen to make your choice. I shall spare you the slaughter information.

("Select a young turkey: Old turkeys have long hairs, and the flesh is purplish. About March they deteriorate in quality. "Remove all the feathers carefully, singe it over a burning newspaper on the top of the stove: then draw it nicely, being careful not to break any of the internal organs; remove the crop carefully; cut off the neck close to the body. Now rinse the inside of the turkey out with several waters, and in the next to the last, mix a teaspoonful of baking soda: oftentimes the inside of a fowl is very sour, especially if it is not freshly killed. Now, after washing, wipe the turkey dry, inside and out, with a clean cloth."
So, just go buy a turkey from your favorite market. Cook it any way you prefer. No matter what, it will be perfect, just the way YOU wanted it! Have a fabulous dinner with family and friends.

10-16 pound turkey (if larger bird, double the dressing ingredients)
1/4 cup butter
1-2 tart apples, chopped
1-2 onions, chopped
1-3 ribs celery, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/3 cup chopped dried apricots, or dates, prunes, etc.
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon dried sage
3-4 leaves fresh sage, snipped
1/2 cup turkey broth
5-6 cups diced day-old bread, or a bag of prepared bread cubes

1/2 cup turkey or chicken stock
1/2 teaspoon good quality sweet paprika

First thing is to remove the giblets from the turkey to make the stock/broth. (See the recipe) Place the turkey back into the refrigerator while the broth is cooking. In meantime, you can calculate the roasting time, using 20 minutes per pound of turkey so that you will know when to put the whole thing into the oven so that is will be done when the family is ready to eat! When the broth is done, you get to begin the stuffing and roasting procedure! Wash the turkey well, and pat it dry with paper towels. Remove any extra fat, if visible. Rub the inside with fine sea salt, and then lightly rub the outside skin with a little salt also. Set aside while you prepare the dressing. I use my microwave oven to cook the dressing ingredients but if you are doubling the recipe use a large heavy bottomed saute pan. For microwave method, in a large bowl such as an 8 cup batter bowl, combine the butter, apples, onions, celery, garlic, apricots, salt, pepper and sage. Microwave on high for 8 minutes. Then add 1/2 cup broth and the bread, stirring to mix well. If using a saute pan, first heat the butter to melt it and then stir in the same ingredients, cooking and stirring to partially cook the vegetables and fruits, about 10 minutes time. Add the broth and bread, stirring well.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. This is the preheating time, you will not cook it at this high of a temperature.
Lightly stuff the cavity of the turkey. Do not pack it in too tightly. It is easy. With your hands make "snowballs" out of the dressing and place them inside the cavity. It is easy to seal off the cavity with a slice of bread. Or, if you prefer, truss it shut with metal or wooden skewers. Don't forget to stuff the neck cavity. Pull the neck skin back over the dressing and secure in place with a skewer or pick. You should not let the stuffed turkey set, it should be stuffed and roasted right away, especially if the dressing was still warm.
Place the stuffed turkey in a deep heavy bottomed roasting pan. No need to use a rack unless you wish to. I like the turkey to sit down in the pan as it stays more moist and the underneath skin does not stick like it tends to do to a rack. Combine the remaining 1/2 cup broth with the paprika. Brush this all over the turkey. Dampen a piece of cheesecloth (cut a bit bigger than the size of the turkey breast) in the broth, and place it over the breast. This is the VERY BEST way to keep the white meat moist and to allow it to brown nicely without steaming it. It also will hold the wings close to the body, just tuck them under the cheesecloth to hold them in place. Give it a try this year, you will love the results.
Calculate the roasting time, using 20 minutes per pound as a guide. Place the turkey in the hot oven, TURN THE TEMPERATURE DOWN TO 350 DEGREES. Baste the cheesecloth with the pan juices and more broth, as needed, from time to time. (The cheesecloth holds the juices in place instead of running right off of the breast. The cheesecloth will get quite brown, that is normal. When the turkey is done, the whole piece of cheesecloth removes easily and underneath will be your moist and browned roast.) Using an instant meat thermometer, check the bird when it gets to within 30 minutes of the calculated cooking time. Insert the thermometer into the thigh socket for most accurate reading. It should register about 170-175 degrees or even as much as 180 but anything over that will produce a dry bird. When done, remove the pan from the oven. Remove the cheesecloth. Lift the turkey out of the roasting pan and onto a cutting board, reserving the drippings in the pan for making the gravy. Tent the turkey with a silicone mat, parchment or foil. Allow to stand about 30-45 minutes before carving, while you make the potatoes and gravy!

Recipe created 2006-11-07.

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