FIRST, look in your oven and arrange your oven racks so you will have room for a turkey and a pan of something else at the same time. You’ll thank me for this later.
To make stuffing, you need DRY bread. Take some bread (real bread, not anything with “Wonder” in the brand name) right now, and tear it into dice or slightly bigger pieces and let it sit out in the kitchen in a pan overnight so it will get stale for tomorrow morning. If you can possible lay your hands on some actual cornbread, use that about half-and-half.
Tomorrow morning, saute about half of a well-chopped onion in butter till the onion clarifies and add that to the bread mix. Also add: chopped apples, walnuts, chopped celery, some parsley, some salt and pepper, and liberal amounts of dried sage. Stir all this stuff together.
Now listen very carefully to this next part: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Yes: 425 Degrees.
Now, remove anything you find in the body or neck cavity of the bird and toss it into a pan of water and start simmering it.
Shove the stuffing in the turkey. Firm, but not packed. You should sing this rhyme while you do so, to the tune of “Frere Jacques”:
Next Thanksgiving, next Thanksgiving–
Save your bread, save your bread!
Shove it up a turkey, shove it up a turkey–
Eat the bird. Eat the bird.
-The Munzer Family of northern New Jersey
If you can get the rest of your family to help sing it, round style, it works even better.
Now close the flaps of neck skin and pin the turkey’s butt together using skewers, string, toothpicks, whatever works.
Place the turkey on a shallow rack in a roasting pan.
Rub butter over the breast. Turn the wings under, or tie them across the breast. Put a meat thermometer into a meaty part of the thigh (don’t hit the bone).
Reverently place the turkey in the overn
TURN THE HEAT DOWN to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. The high heat at the outset will crisp the breast skin and lock in the turkey juices so they do not frizzle away.
Your turkey will be ready to come out of the oven when the thermometer reads 180 to 185 degrees. It needs to rest for about twenty minutes before you carve it–the perfect time to make gravy.
You should tent the turkey breast with some foil during the last hour.
Baste every half hour at least until done. You need something turkey flavored to baste your bird with (you need a clean brush to do this with.) Luckily you’ve got just the item–your giblets, heart, liver are simmering merrily away right there on the stove top. For the first hour or so, just swipe some turkey stock to baste with. You can add water to the giblets pan if it starts to run low. As grease begins to cook out of the roasting bird, you can use the stuff in the bottom of the pan.
Roasting bag? What, someone thinks the Pilgrims got roasting bags from the Native Americans?!? Sheesh.