Maple-Roasted Turkey with Wild Rice, Sausage and Pecan Stuffing
Giving Thanks: “For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
I look up at the staircase and think of all the pleasant nights before Thanksgiving I peacefully slept upstairs to the dreamy smells of sage and thyme that seductively wafted from the oven as the turkey cooked through the wee, small hours of the morning. I cough out the acrimonious cocktail of smoke, flame and water that now toxically fills my lungs. I look around in despair. The house has been emptied of salvageable belongings.
Most everything except the piano. Seeing this gorgeous instrument, now warped and singed from the fury of the inferno, breaks my heart and makes me selfishly, desperately want to save it, to get it out of such a forsaken, smoldering environment before it becomes irreparable. I glimpse over at my tearful mother, slowly sifting through the rubble, and silently offer up another prayer, so immensely grateful that no one was home when the fire broke out. Yes, the material loss is unfathomable and mournful but I remind myself that these are things, not people. You can always replace things.
- 1 (12-to 14-lb) fresh turkey, at room temperature for 1 hour
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- ¼ cup pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 2 cups chicken broth, plus more as necessary
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 4 peeled garlic cloves
- 3 bay leaves
- 3 celery ribs, quartered
- 3 carrots, quartered
- 2 sprigs parsley
- 2 sprigs sage
- For the stuffing: 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 8 cups cubed rustic bread
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound ground hot Italian sausage
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 2 cups turkey stock
- 2 cups cooked wild rice
- ½ cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped sage
- 1 tablespoon chopped thyme
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey (reserve for stock, if desired; discard liver). Thoroughly rinse the turkey, inside and out and pat dry. Liberally season all over, including the cavity, with salt and pepper. (See below for additional instructions.) Pin the neck skin to the body with a skewer. Place the turkey, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting pan. Loosely fill the rear cavity with stuffing, if desired (see recipe below). If not, stuff the rear cavity with an onion, garlic cloves and fresh herbs, like sage and thyme. Center butcher’s twine under the back of the breastbone and bring ends up and over to pin the wings, then crisscross the string around drumsticks and tie together. Combine the melted butter, maple syrup, orange juice and poultry seasoning and brush the turkey liberally with the mixture. Pour the chicken broth in the pan and roast the turkey for 30 minutes, then baste with the butter mixture. Continue to roast, basting every 30 minutes, for 1-1/2 hours. Cover with some foil if the turkey’s browning too quickly and add more broth to the pan, if necessary.
- Add the vegetables and herbs to the pan and continue to roast and baste, until the turkey is deeply browned and has reached an internal temperature of 170 degrees; count on about 13 minutes per pound, about 2-1/2 to 3 hours total. Transfer the turkey to a platter, tent loosely with foil, and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
- Wild Rice, Sausage and Pecan Stuffing
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the butter and bread until evenly coated. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and golden, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium. Add the sausage and onions and cook until the sausage is well-browned and cooked through. Add the celery and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
- Deglaze the pan with a little of the stock, scraping up any browned bits and add to the bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and season with salt and pepper. To bake stuffing outside of the bird: Butter a large casserole dish, add the stuffing, cover with parchment paper then foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove the parchment and foil and bake until the top is golden brown.
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• With the holidays coming up, we not only take photos of our food but of our friends and family as well. Here are a few tips:
• Try to catch people unawares. Most people are uncomfortable having their picture taken and tend to stiffen up when the camera is pointed at them; they look rigid or uncomfortable or do something silly to cover their discomfort. Wait until they are engaged in conversation or some activity, be patient and take your picture at the moment when they are most expressive.
• Avoid photographing people while they are eating. People look their least attractive with their mouths full.
• Try to anticipate the action. If you know grandmother’s special holiday pie is going to be served next, make sure you have camera in hand and have chosen a good vantage point from which to get the photo you want, be it of the family oohing and aahing over grandma’s pie or of some one lost in the bliss of that first taste.
• Good photos are the result of deliberate choice and preparation. Make sure you have your camera handy, plenty of batteries and enough of whatever media your camera uses so you won’t miss anything by having to run and download to clear your memory card.
• If you are going to photograph your food for your blog, make sure everyone knows that you intend to do this and do it early so people aren’t standing around hungry. It’s a good idea to have some extra servings of the food you’re going to photograph so people can nosh on it while they wait on you to complete your images.
• Above all enjoy yourself. If you are having fun, it will reflect in your photos.
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