Definitive recipe for traditional roast turkey with chestnut stuffing and home made gravy. This is time consuming but everyone will find it worth it on occasions such as important family reunions.
Preparing the Stuffing
To roast the chestnuts, cut an X on the flat side of each chestnut and roast for 15 to 20 minutes at 375°F oven. Let cool for 10 minutes and then peel and chop.
In a large pot over low heat, heat the olive oil then add onions and celery. Sauté for about 3 minutes or until soft. Stir in crushed garlic, sage, rosemary, thyme and apple and sauté for a further 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in egg, then add chopped chestnuts and bread. Toss mixture well. Stir in warm broth and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
Preparing the Turkey
Remove turkey from fridge and loosely stuff the neck cavity with chestnut stuffing, fold the skin under and secure in place with a toothpick. Then loosely stuff the main cavity, making sure to leave room for expansion and the air to flow through.
Prepare your roasting pan: Use a large roasting pan and at the bottom add two roughly chopped carrots, onion and celery. Place the rack over the vegetables. Now place your turkey, breast side up, on the rack. Drizzle with melted butter.
Bake, uncovered, at 375°F for the first 30 minutes, then baste and reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue basting turkey every 25 to 30 minutes. The cooking time should be approximately 20 minutes per pound of turkey, which would be about 3.5 hours for a 10b turkey. To check if the turkey is cooked pierce the thigh bone, juices should run clear without any pink. Also use a meat thermometer on the thickest part of the thigh. The temperature should show 180°F. Turkey should be golden and crispy on the outside too.
Remove the turkey from roasting tray and reserve juices for gravy.
Mash the vegetables in the roasting tray, then push all ingredients through a sieve. Discard any remaining vegetables or fat. Place the sieved liquid in a saucepan and simmer over low heat. If you don't have enough liquid then add 1 cup or more (depending on how much gravy you need) of turkey or chicken stock; You can also add a couple of tablespoons of butter.
In a small bowl add two tablespoons of cornstarch and mix with cold water (about 1/2 cup) until all lumps dissolve. Slowly add a little of this mixture (tablespoon by tablespoon) to the saucepan, stirring well after each addition and allowing time for gravy to thicken. Keep adding corn flour/water mixture until gravy thickens to your taste.
Tip: You can also add a couple of tablespoons of red wine to the gravy or Madeira for a richer taste. The alcohol will dissolve during the cooking process and children will be able to have the gravy.
The Night Before
If possible, the previous night, or at least one hour before cooking, prepare your turkey. Remove any giblets and rise well (inside and out) with cold water, then pat dry with paper towels. Generously rub turkey with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and place back in refrigerator until time to cook.
In The Morning
Prepare the stuffing, the turkey and the gravy.
Use cooked packaged chestnuts, if more convenient. If roasting chestnuts, do not turn oven off as it will need to be preheated for cooking the turkey.
Use chicken broth or chicken stock if you did not have time to make turkey stock. At worst, make stock from boiling water and a stock cube.
For extra added safety, remove the stuffing from turkey once turkey is cooked and bake on a separate dish for approximately 10 extra minutes.
A roast turkey is at the core of many a celebration meal, certainly Thanksgiving, almost sure at Christmas, why not Easter?
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