Remove giblets and neck from body cavity. Rinse turkey and pat dry with absorbent paper. Fill neck cavity loosely with stuffing/dressing. Do not pack, as stuffing/dressing expands during roasting. Fold neck skin over stuffing/dressing in cavity opening and fasten securely to back with skewers. Stuff body cavity loosely. Lock wings behind the back and tie drumsticks to bird with kitchen twine or heavy string. Place turkey on a metal rack coated with non-caloric vegetable cooking spray in a shallow ungreased roasting pan. Insert a meat thermometer, if desired, into the thickest part of the breast or inside thigh. Brush entire bird liberally with mayonnaise. Sprinkle bird lightly with salt and pepper. Add ½ cup water to pan. Baste bird with brandy or bourbon or orange juice, if desired. Repeat process often during roasting. Place a tent of aluminum foil, shiny-side turned in, loosely over bird. Allow a hole in the foil for the meat thermometer or pop-up timer. Bake in a preheated slow oven (325 degrees F.) until done, about 4 ½ to 5 hours. Allow 20 to 25 minutes per pound for roasting. Turkey is done when a meat thermometer inserted into the breast away from fat or bone registers 170 degrees F. (180 to 185 degrees F. if inserted between drumstick and body). Cut string holding legs when bird is two-thirds cooked. Remove foil during the last 30 to 40 minutes of roasting, basting frequently with pan liquid. Remove turkey from oven when done and cover tightly with aluminum foil. Allow turkey to rest for 20 to 25 minutes for easier carving. Arrange turkey on heated platter, garnish as desired, and serve.
Turkey Breast: For a 4 to 7-pound turkey breast, lightly coat outside surfaces of breast with mayonnaise. Stuff breast neck cavity and body cavity loosely with stuffing/dressing, if desired; close skin over cavities and secure with long wooden picks. Or, bake stuffing/dressing separately in a 2-quart casserole. Arrange turkey breast in a lightly greased or aluminum foil-lined roaster or broiler pan or 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan (if not stuffed, place breast on metal rack in pan). Insert a meat thermometer, if desired. (May add ½ to 1 cup water and chicken bouillon cube(s) to pan, if desired.) Bake, covered with a tent of aluminum foil, shiny side turned in, ends open, in a preheated slow oven (325 degrees F.) for about 2 to 3 hours, depending on weight of turkey breast, 20 to 25 minutes per pound, or until meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of breast registers 170 degrees F. (Allow a hole in the foil for meat thermometer or pop-up timer.) When turkey begins to brown, may sprinkle top of breast with salt and pepper, if desired. About 30 minutes before end of baking time, remove aluminum foil to insure turkey breast browning; baste breast with pan liquid and continue baking until turkey breast is done. Allow turkey breast to rest at room temperature, covered with aluminum foil, for about 15 to 20 minutes after removing from oven to allow easier carving. May use liquid in baking pan for preparation of gravy.
Note: If not using brandy, bourbon, or orange juice, increase amount of water added to pan to 1¼ to 1½ cups.
Cornbread, Walnut, Date, and Raisin Stuffing (Dressing)
about 5½ to 6 cups
Combine stuffing mix, nuts, dates, celery, onion, raisins, and mace together in a large bowl. In a small heavy saucepan, bring chicken broth and water to a boil over moderate heat; melt butter in boiling broth/water. Stir into bread cube mixture; add egg, mixing well. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Use for stuffing turkey. Or, stuffing may be baked separately in a greased 2-quart casserole, covered, in a preheated moderate oven (350 degrees F.) for 45 to 50 minutes or until done and lightly browned. May uncover during the last 10 to 15 minutes of baking, if desired.
Note: For a moister stuffing/dressing, increase the broth to 1¼ cups or the water to 3/4 cup or the butter to ½ cup.
Note: May wish to increase the recipe by 1½ to 2 times for those who especially like stuffing/dressing.
about 5 ½ cups
In a small bowl, blend brandy and flour until smooth. In a medium heavy saucepan, blend brandy-flour mixture into turkey drippings. Stir in marmalade and/or apricot preserves. Cook, stirring constantly, over moderate heat until thickened and bubbly hot. Season with salt to taste.
Note: Alcohol content evaporates during cooking process.
Variation: Omit marmalade and/or preserves and increase flour to 4 tablespoons. Season with salt and pepper to taste. May add a few drops gravy flavoring and seasoning sauce, if desired. Yield: about 4 cups
Great Turkey Gravy
about 4 to 5 cups
In a large heavy saucepan, cook turkey giblets, tail, and neck in water to cover thoroughly, cover ajar, over low to moderate heat for about 1 to 1½ hour(s), or until very tender. Cool thoroughly. Drain and cut giblets into bite-size pieces. Remove meat from tail and neck; discard neck bones and tail fat and cut meat into bite-size pieces and reserve for gravy.
In a large heavy saucepan, blend flour into turkey pan drippings with a wire whisk, whisking until mixture is smooth. Cook, stirring mixture constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add bouillon cubes and 2 cups chicken broth or water, blending well. Add seasonings and blend in remaining 2 cups broth or water (may use a combination of 2 cups each broth and water, if desired). Cook, stirring constantly, over moderate heat until thickened and bubbly hot. May add seasoning and browning sauce, if desired. Adjust other seasonings to taste. Stir turkey meat and giblets, if used, into hot gravy.
Note: Use 6 tablespoons flour for a thinner consistency gravy and 8 tablespoons flour for a thicker consistency gravy.