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Video: Martha’s tips for a tasty turkey

  1. Closed captioning of: Martha’s tips for a tasty turkey

    >> and on macys.com.

    >>> this morning on " martha on today," thanksgiving 101. if your bird's always dry and the gravy always lumpy, martha stewart is here to help. the december issue of " martha stewart living " chock-full of holiday tips. martha , good morning to you.

    >> good morning, good morning.

    >> good morning, martha .

    >> we are talking turkey today.

    >> and we have a turkey hotline going on sirius and calls are coming in every single minute.

    >> does everybody have the same questions? first, frozen. what do you recommend?

    >> i prefer a fresh killed bird, organically grown, if possible, antibiotic-free, if possible. look for a healthy bird, but there are a lot of great turkeys out there.

    >> and you always say wash it first. why?

    >> just in case it's been sitting around in its plastic packaging, wash it, let it drain well, dry it. and then get it ready for stuffing. don't stuff it until you're ready to roast it. that's very, very important.

    >> why, for health reasons?

    >> yeah, because something might be a little warm. i'd love for you to finish the stuffing.

    >> what's in here so far?

    >> a white loaf or whatever kind of bread you like. lots of sauteed onions, lots of celery, lots of fresh chopped parsley.

    >> okay.

    >> add about four cups of --

    >> chicken stock ?

    >> -- of homemade chicken stock or low-sodium stock.

    >> all right.

    >> and we're using dried cherries.

    >> they're always good.

    >> aren't they beautiful?

    >> i just bought some of those.

    >> and pecans.

    >> you're going to chop these up --

    >> the bigger the better.

    >> okay.

    >> people love big chunks. ten sage leaves that are chopped up.

    >> put the leaf in? who's laughing?

    >> nobody.

    >> wow.

    >> salt and pepper .

    >> this is two tablespoons?

    >> yeah.

    >> that looks like a lot, okay.

    >> two tablespoons.

    >> i'll mix that up.

    >> you mix that up. and then you stuff your bird. i stuffed in the cavity.

    >> don't overstuff, right?

    >> not too dense. any leftover you can bake. now you're going to truss the turkey , tie the legs together.

    >> which means just tie that baby up.

    >> tie it all up. here's what's beautiful about this beautiful lacquered, brown turkey that everyone wants. we have four sticks of butter.

    >> oh, my god, martha , that's a heart attack.

    >> unsalted butter , right?

    >> unsalted. and a baottle of white wine .

    >> the whole bottle?

    >> you sound disappointed.

    >> now you dip a piece of cheese cloth --

    >> that's why you have that. so, a bottle of wine and four sticks of butter.

    >> now want to unfold that?

    >> yeah, of course.

    >> you have to put your papers down. unfold that --

    >> like a veil.

    >> like a veil, all over that leg.

    >> the legs and everything.

    >> for about two hours, okay?

    >> do you need this -- can you just pour it on the bird?

    >> oh, no, you need this, because look what happens. this is keeping all of the juices in.

    >> wow.

    >> this is after it's been cooked for 2 1/2 hours. you uncover it then --

    >> oh.

    >> here's what's going to happen. now, it doesn't look so gorgeous.

    >> no, it doesn't. it's not impressive.

    >> but i'm telling you, it is impressive when you put it in for one more hour.

    >> one more our.

    >> yes, at 350. you get that turkey over there.

    >> and that cheese cloth is delicious the next day.

    >> that's right.

    >> fantastic.

    >> sandwiches.

    >> makes a good gravy.

    >> but then the gravy is another big problem. so many people have a hard time with the gravy.

    >> that's what was left in the turkey pan.

    >> yeah. this is the drippings, and i'm softening the drippings with some giblet stock. you know the giblets, the neck and the --

    >> you cooked it, then. you cooked it separately?

    >> here they are, all chopped up here.

    >> okay.

    >> so you cook that, you strain that, and see all the fat?

    >> mm-hmm.

    >> that's all --

    >> oh, okay.

    >> see, that's that butter that you didn't like.

    >> okay, all right.

    >> now, if you use one of these, it will separate this.

    >> i've never understood how this works.

    >> down here --

    >> that's fat.

    >> no, this is fat.

    >> up there? that's the fat?

    >> yeah, that's the fat. down here is the juice we want. so now we pour. you're not getting any fat, you're just getting that dark juice. it works really well.

    >> it does. it's magical.

    >> now watch, it's all gone, see?

    >> it's magic!

    >> that's a great gadget.

    >> and then flour?

    >> yes, and you have a bermaniere.

    >> oh, please.

    >> did you say "oh, please"?

    >> butter and flour.

    >> what is that anyway?

    >> it's just flour and butter softened together.

    >> oh. i thought that was something special you had to buy in a specialty.

    >> no.

    >> oh, okay.

    >> and you mix that in and you stir. excuse me.

    >> so, putting flour in directly is not the thing to do. it's mixing --

    >> we've only get a minute left. so, what is that?

    >> white wine .

    >> again --

    >> more wine.

    >> liking the wine.

    >> makes a great stuffing.

    >> okay, all right.

    >> can we get a beauty shot because we have about 35 seconds left. look. this is as pretty as our tables look.

    >> i hope so.

    >> come in here.

    >> the glazed turkey --

    >> poor martha .

    >> you've got potatoes, roasted parse nick bread pudding , green beans , shallots and breadcrumbs.

    >> sweet potato and sage butter casserole.

    >> and the turkey --

    >> and look, these are real gourds we spray-painted --

    >> they're beautiful.

    >> are you going to be okay?

    >> what time is dinner?

    >> 7:00.

    >> 7:00. we'll be there.

    >> but she's not telling her where.

    >> i heard her tell matt. i'm there. happy thanksgiving.

    >> hope you feel all right.

    >> just ahead, bon jovi .

TODAY recipes
updated 11/24/2009 11:58:42 AM ET 2009-11-24T16:58:42

Recipe: Turkey 101

  • 1 twenty- to-twenty-one-pound fresh whole turkey, giblets and neck removed from cavity and reserved
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted, plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 750-ml bottle dry white wine
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • Classic Stuffing
  • 1 cup dry red or white wine, for gravy (optional)
  • Giblet Stock

1. Rinse turkey with cool water, and dry with paper towels. Let stand for 2 hours at room temperature.

2. Place rack on lowest level in oven. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Combine melted butter and white wine in a bowl. Fold a large piece of cheesecloth into quarters and cut it into a 17-inch, four-layer square. Immerse cheesecloth in the butter and wine; let soak.

3. Place turkey, breast side up, on a roasting rack in a heavy metal roasting pan. If the turkey comes with a pop-up timer, remove it; an instant-read thermometer is a much more accurate indication of doneness. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Fill large cavity and neck cavity loosely with as much stuffing as they hold comfortably; do not pack tightly. (Cook remaining stuffing in a buttered baking dish for 45 minutes at 375 degrees.) Tie legs together loosely with kitchen string (a bow will be easy to untie later). Fold neck flap under, and secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey with the softened butter, and sprinkle with remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and pepper.

4. Lift cheesecloth out of liquid, and squeeze it slightly, leaving it very damp. Spread it evenly over the breast and about halfway down the sides of the turkey; it can cover some of the leg area. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Cook for 30 minutes. Using a pastry brush, baste cheesecloth and exposed parts of turkey with butter and wine. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. and continue to cook for 2 1/2 more hours, basting every 30 minutes and watching pan juices; if the pan gets too full, spoon out juices, reserving them for gravy.

5. After this third hour of cooking, carefully remove and discard cheesecloth. Turn roasting pan so that the breast is facing the back of the oven. Baste turkey with pan juices. If there are not enough juices, continue to use butter and wine. The skin gets fragile as it browns, so baste carefully. Cook 1 more hour, basting after 30 minutes.

6. After this fourth hour of cooking, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh. Do not poke into a bone. The temperature should reach 180 degrees.(stuffing should be between 140 degrees.and 160 degrees. and the turkey should be golden brown. The breast does not need to be checked for temperature. If legs are not yet fully cooked, baste turkey, return to oven, and cook another 20 to 30 minutes.

7. When fully cooked, transfer turkey to a serving platter, and let rest for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour all the pan juices into a glass measuring cup. Let stand until grease rises to the surface, about 10 minutes, then skim it off. Meanwhile, place roasting pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 cup dry red or white wine, or water, to the pan. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the pan until liquid boils and all the crisp bits are unstuck from pan. Add giblet stock to pan. Stir well, and bring back to a boil. Cook until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes. Add the defatted pan juices, and cook over medium-high heat 10 minutes more. You will have about 2 1/2 cups of gravy. Season to taste, strain into a warm gravy boat, and serve with turkey.

Serving Size

Serves 12 to 14

Recipe: Giblet Stock and Gravy

The giblets are edible when properly prepared and are the secret to a flavorful gravy. Make this stock while your turkey roasts.

  • Giblets, (heart, gizzard, and liver) and neck reserved from turkey
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1 celery stalk, with leaves, stalk cut into 1/4-inch dice, leaves roughly chopped
  • 1 small leek, trimmed, washed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf

1. Trim any fat or membrane from giblets. The liver should not have the gallbladder (a small green sac) attached. If it is, trim it off carefully, removing part of the liver if necessary. Do not pierce the sac; the liquid it contains is very bitter. Rinse giblets and neck, and pat dry.

2. In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat. Add chopped onion, celery and leaves, and leek. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper, and cook 5 minutes. Add 4 cups water, bay leaf, gizzard, heart, and neck (do not add liver; it needs to be cooked separately or it makes the stock bitter). Bring to a boil, then reduce to a high simmer. Cook for 45 minutes, or until gizzard is tender when pierced with the tip of a knife.

3. Meanwhile, chop liver finely. Melt remaining tablespoon of butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. Add liver, and cook, stirring constantly, until liver no longer releases any blood and is fully cooked, 4 to 6 minutes. Set aside.

4. After the 45 minutes of simmering, the liquid should reduce to about 3 cups. If it has not, increase the heat, and cook 10 to 15 minutes more.

5. Strain stock. Chop gizzard and heart very fine, and add to strained stock along with chopped liver. Pick meat off neck, and add to stock. Set aside until needed for gravy.

How to make the gravy: Transfer the turkey to a serving platter to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, make the gravy. Pour pan juices into a glass measuring cup; when the grease rises to the surface, skim it off and discard. Place the roasting pan over medium-high heat and add a cup of dry red or white wine or water; bring to a boil and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all of the brown bits. Add giblet stock (about 3 cups), return to a boil, and cook until reduced by half. Add reserved, defatted pan juices, cook 10 minutes more, and strain into a gravy boat.

Serving Size

Makes about 3 cups

Recipe: Classic Stuffing

The terms stuffing and dressing are often used interchangeably, but they do have different meanings: Stuffing is cooked inside the bird, dressing is on its own.

  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 onions, (2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 16 celery stalks, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 10 large fresh sage leaves, chopped, or 2 teaspoons crushed dried sage
  • 6 cups Homemade Chicken Stock, or canned low sodium chicken broth, skimmed of fat
  • 2 stale loaves white bread, (about 36 slices), crust on, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups (about 2 bunches) fresh coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, leaves
  • 2 cups pecans, toasted and chopped (optional)
  • 2 cups dried cherries, (optional)

1. Melt butter in a large skillet. Add onions and celery, and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add sage, stir to combine, and cook 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1/2 cup stock, and stir well. Cook for about 5 minutes, until liquid has reduced by half.

2. Transfer onion mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add all remaining ingredients, including the remaining stock; mix to combine.

Serving Size

Makes 12 cups


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