We’ll start with turkey, which I think is probably the easiest part of the meal. I like to roast mine with a lemon and rosemary rub, and I stuff it with lemon and cook my stuffing separately. I like a crispy top on my stuffing, and that doesn’t happen when it’s all sitting inside a bird.
Lemon Rosemary Roast Turkey (serves 12-16)
12 to 14 lb turkey (Figure 1 pound per person)
¼ cup butter, softened
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
Zest and juice of one lemon
2 lemons, quartered, for stuffing cavity
Take your turkey out about a half hour before cooking, and preheat oven to 450.
Carefully rinse turkey, inside and out in the sink (I hate this task and the huge amounts of Lysol the cleanup takes). Pat turkey dry and place, breast side up, in roasting pan. Remove giblets and neck and discard.
Combine butter, rosemary, zest, and juice of lemon in a bowl. Using your hands, rub the mix under the skin of the turkey.
Generously season the turkey with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and paprika. I eyeball this, but I will tell you I season the crap out of it. Probably a good tablespoon of salt. Lots of salt = crispy skin! Stuff the cavity with the quartered lemons.
Add water to your roasting pan to come about one inch up the sides. Place lid on roasting pan (you can tent with foil if you don’t have a pan with a lid), and cook for 30 minutes.
After 30 minutes, turn the heat down to 350 and remove lid. Cook until a meat thermometer measures 165 in the thigh and thickest part of breast. I calculate 15 minutes per pound, so a 14 pound bird will take you 3 and a half hours.
When done, remove from oven, cover pan, and let rest for 30-40 minutes. Carve and serve.
This recipe gives you a huge amount of pan juices for gravy, but I have to admit something sacrilegious: I hate gravy. I buy it premade each year, which goes against basically everything I stand for in cooking, but it’s just easier. So unfortunately I have no recipes to share for that, but I’m sure Martha Stewart or the Barefoot Contessa can fill in where I’m lacking.
Italian Sausage Stuffing (Serves up to 18)
This is an old family recipe! I love this stuffing. I bake it in a separate dish, outside the turkey.
2 lbs Italian bread, cut into small cubes
2 lbs good Italian sausage (get it from a good Italian butcher shop! I like a mix of hot and sweet sausage)
1 stick butter
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
¼ cup parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper
3-5 cups chicken stock
Preheat oven to 350. Arrange bread cubes onto a baking sheet (you may need to use multiple sheets), and toast for about 20 minutes, until crisp. Alternately, you can buy your bread a few days early and just let it go stale.
Heat butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Remove sausage from casing and break into chunks. Saute until fully cooked and browned, then remove with a slotted spoon to a large mixing bowl.
Continuing in the same pan, add oil, sage, parsley, and shallots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute 10 minutes, or until softened. Add vegetable mixture and any pan juices to mixing bowl and combine with sausage.
Stuffing can be prepared to this point up to one day ahead. Keep your bread covered at room temperature, and the sausage/vegetable mixture in the fridge.
When ready to bake, add the bread to the sausage mixture. Add egg and three cups of stock and mix well. Depending on the type of bread you used, you may need to add more stock. You want the mixture to be wet but not too soaked and mushy. If pressed together, it should mostly hold.
Butter a 9x13 baking dish and add bread and sausage mix. Sprinkle the parmesan on top. Cover pan with foil and bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Then, remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until top is browned.
(Leftovers are amazing with a drippy fried egg for breakfast the next day!)