A beautiful, big roast turkey is the star of the Thanksgiving table. This recipe keeps it simple and traditional while still adding a little extra wow factor. The cornbread stuffing gets so much more flavor from being cooked inside the bird and the easy gizzard gravy is the perfect finisher for a plate piled high with classic holiday foods.
Technique tip: Use Cornish game hens for faster cooking time. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with foil and put baking rack on top. Roast until the juices run clear and an instant-read thermometer registers 180 F when inserted into the thickest part of the thigh, about 50-55 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven, cover with foil and let the hens rest for about five minutes before serving. Transfer the hens to a large serving tray.
- 1 box cornbread mix, prepared according to package directions
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 1 cup chopped green onions
- 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- 1 can chicken with rice soup
- 1 (12-pound) turkey, thawed
- 2 sticks salted butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- poultry gizzards and neck
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the cornbread stuffing:
Make cornbread from mix, according to package directions. Crumble cornbread into small pieces and lay onto a cookie sheet to air dry.
For the turkey:
1. Pat turkey dry with paper towels. Remove the gizzards and neck.
2. In a bowl, combine celery and green onions with air-dried cornbread. Add poultry seasoning, melted butter and soup, but no water. Mix together thoroughly and place inside turkey cavity.
3. Generously cover bird completely with softened butter, both under skin and on top of skin, tent with aluminum foil and bake, according to package instructions for bird's weight. One hour before bird is finished cooking, remove foil and baste. This will allow skin to become crispy and brown without burning.
4. The turkey is done when the internal temperature registers 170 F deep in the thigh and juices run clear when flesh is pierced. The temperature of the stuffing should be 160 F in the center.
5. Remove bird from oven, place on serving platter and tent with foil. Let turkey rest for about 15 minutes so the temperature of the stuffing will reach 165 F in the center and the temperature in the thigh will rise to 180 F.
For the turkey gravy:
1. Place gizzards and neck into a pan of water and bring to a simmer to create broth for gravy. Simmer for 30-45 minutes. Remove from the heat, strain and reserve.
2. In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil, add the flour and brown deeply, stirring constantly over medium-low heat.
3. Add bird drippings and whisk until thickened. Add gizzard broth and simmer. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Removing stuffing from bird and place in serving bowl. Carve turkey and plate with stuffing and gravy.