Saturday, November 24, 2012

Honey-Spiced Roast Turkey with Apple Pecan Stuffing

How to prepare the bird is usually the first challenge to any Thanksgiving feast.  If you are even having turkey that is...

A few years back, when the holiday looked as though it was just to included Ross and myself, we opted to try pheasant.  That was an interesting experiment.

This year we were blessed with a visit from my mother and brother, as well as a dear friend of ours from Hawaii who has been spending the last few months in Michigan.  Along with our roommate, we created quite the hodge podge group.  Turkey was a must.  And as word of my cooking enthusiasm has spread, the ante was upped slightly.  All of the classics needed to be present, but a twist was needed.

So back to the bird.  I've brined before with much success.  In fact it may be my favorite way to prep a turkey, but it does require a little more fore thought than simple defrosting the bird usually entails.  So no brine this year.

I love the combination of nuts and fruit in my stuffing.  That is what caused the recipe to first catch my eye.  Once I read through and discovered the sweet and spice glaze on the bird, I was sold.  Most ingredients were staples in my pantry and no fancy culinary tricks or techniques would be needed.

Do keep an eye on the turkey during the last two hours.  The honey causes the skin to brown very quickly, even when loosely covered.  In the end, never uncovered ours and it was still finished nearly an hour earlier than estimated.

It was surprisingly moist and tender, throughout.

adapted from

serves 12

The Ingredients:
for the turkey
12- to 15-lb turkey, thawed
1/3 cup honey
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp chili powder
3/4 tsp ground allspice
3/4 tsp ground cumin

for the stuffing:
1/4 cup butter
1 small onion, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
2-3 sprigs fresh sage
1/2 cup pecan pieces, toasted
1 medium apple, chopped (1 cup)
4-5 cups dried bread cubes
1 1/3 cups apple juice

The Process:
Heat oven to 325°F. 

In a small bowl, combine the honey, butter and spices until well blended.  Starting at back opening of turkey, gently separate skin from turkey breast, using fingers. Try not to puncture the skin over the breast.   Brush half of the honey mixture over turkey breast under skin.  Reserve remaining honey mixture for later.

In large heavy bottomed pot , melt 1/4 cup butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery, thyme and sage. Saute until onion is tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the apple and pecans, cooking another 2-3 minutes.Add the bread crumbs and stir in the apple juice until the stuffing is just moistened.  Remove from heat.  Remove the sage and thyme sprigs.  Allow the stuffing to cool before stuffing the turkey.
Gently stuff the neck area.  Pull the neck skin over the opening and secure with a skewer or toothpick.   Loosely pack the stuffing into the cavity, do not over stuff...the stuffing will expand during cooking.  Twist the wing tip back under the bird and secure the legs, if desired.  Place turkey, breast side up, on rack in shallow roasting pan.  Loosely tent foil over the turkey.

Roast for 4 to 5 hours (or about 20 minutes per pound).   Uncover the turkey and brush with the remaining honey mixture.   Roast for an addition 30 minutes or until a thermometer reads 180°F and juices run clear. Drumsticks should move easily when lifted or twisted.

Place turkey on warm platter; cover with foil to keep warm. Let stand at least 15 minutes for juices to set.  Carve.

Spoon out the stuffing and serve separately.


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