I actually prepared this delicious Tyler Florence Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon, and Cornbread Stuffing in 2009. I prepared it again this past spring after a long struggle to get our refrigerator-freezer repaired or replaced.
After multiple repair calls, several replaced parts, losing a great deal of food, it was finally determined that the refrigerator was beyond repair and after a great deal of wrangling with the customer service department we received a full refund and immediately went out to purchase a new refrigerator-freezer by, you guessed it, a different manufacturer.
During that time the one item in our freezer that survived was a turkey. This little turkey spent the winter and spring months traveling to and from our neighbor’s house so many times I lost track.
By the time I decided to post this recipe I could not remember how many times the turkey had actually traveled back and forth so I asked my neighbor Sandy if she could remember and perhaps put a few words together about how she felt about housing our turkey over and over again.
I expected just a few numbers and a sentence or two. What I got instead was a funny account of this crazy time written in her words and my voice. I thought this was very funny indeed.
Here is what she wrote:
Traveling; when we think of traveling it brings to mind snowy peaks for skiing, warm beaches for swimming and cruise ships for cruising the open waters. However, our little corner here in Torrey Pines has its own description of traveling and traveler.
Around the beginning of last year, our refrigerator decided to show that it could cause us problems. These problems manifested themselves in a ‘warming climate change’ in our freezer. Thankfully, our freezer was not chock-full, but certainly was not empty by any means.
It soon became evident that the manufacturer, who shall remain nameless, was going to give us problems regarding the warranty. Thankfully our paperwork showed we were not out of warranty (albeit by a very slim margin) and this resulted in numerous back and forth messages to said manufacturer.
Finally, they favored us with the news that a technician would be around to inspect the refrigerator. By this time, we were eating freezer food at a frantic pace and decided that our frozen turkey needed to ‘leave home’ and be stored in a safer climate. We contacted our go-to neighbors the Kesslers, who were glad to foster our turkey until, hopefully, our freezer could be repaired.
The technician came and after much examination, decided that a new part was in order. However, said part took its own sweet time arriving and then, of course, said technician had to appear again. The part was installed and the technician left. However, he got no further than the end of the road and we noticed that the digital panel was not working.
Of course, this necessitated another call to the manufacturer. Finally, another part came, was installed and we rejoiced that all was back in working order. Even more importantly, turkey could come home!!!
Several weeks went by and all seemed fine. Not so! Freezer warming occurred once again. More calls to the manufacturer, more waiting, and, of course, our wonderful neighbors came to rescue again. By this time, they had become somewhat attached to the turkey.
Thankfully, not as much time had to elapse before success was once again achieved. Turkey came back home, and had hardly claimed his rightful place in the freezer, than I decided turkey should be on the menu. And, so it happened, that Torrey Pines had its very own traveling turkey.
Sandy ended by saying, “This is my recollection of events. There may have been one or more travel times, but I can’t really remember. It got to be so humorous that I guess I lost track”.
By the time the turkey made it back into our new freezer, we were preparing to leave on a long trip and worried about the electricity going off during one of the many tropical storms we encounter here in Florida. So, what to do? Have a dinner party!
I decided to cook the turkey and invite our wonderful next door neighbors, Bob and Sandy, who kept taking our turkey in and several other neighbors who had been very patient and supportive listening to our plight and offering space in their refrigerators. They came and we all enjoyed a lovely evening of friendship and a delicious turkey dinner. What made the dinner even more special is that everyone brought something to share. Wonderful, just wonderful!
Tyler’s Maple-Roasted Turkey
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 bunch fresh sage, leaves finely chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 loaf cornbread, cubed (about 6 cups)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 cups chicken stock
1 (12 to 14 pound) fresh turkey
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 cup hot water
8 strips smoked bacon
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 lemon, juiced
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and remove the top rack.
Combine the butter and sage in a mixing bowl, mash with a fork or spoon until the sage is well incorporated and the butter has flecks of green in it; season with salt and pepper.
In a sauté pan, melt 4 tablespoons of the sage butter, add the onions, cook and stir for 15 minutes until soft and golden. Remove from heat. Put the cornbread in a large mixing bowl and scrape the sautéed onion mixture on top. Add the egg, heavy cream, and just enough chicken stock to moisten the stuffing without making it soggy (about 1/2 cup.) Toss well to combine, season with salt and pepper.
Remove the neck and gizzards from the inside of the turkey and discard. Rinse the bird thoroughly inside and out with cold water, pat dry. Sprinkle the cavity and skin liberally with salt and pepper. Using your fingers, gently lift the skin from the breast and legs, and slip pieces of the sage butter underneath; massaging it in as you go. Fill the bird with the cornbread stuffing without packing too tightly; cook the remaining stuffing separately in a buttered baking dish. Truss the turkey; place it on a rack in a large roasting pan, and put into the oven.
Meanwhile, in a small mixing bowl, whisk together the maple syrup and hot water to thin the glaze out a bit; use this to baste the turkey every 30 minutes. The turkey should take about 3 hours to cook (i.e. 15 to 20 minutes per pound.) If the legs or breast brown too quickly, cover with foil. About 2 hours into cooking, shingle the strips of bacon oven the turkey breast to cover; continue to roast and baste for another hour or so. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the meatiest part of the thigh registers 170 degrees F (the thigh juices will also run clear when pricked with a knife.) Transfer the turkey to a cutting board and let rest for 20 minutes before carving, so the juices can settle back into the meat.
Skim off the excess fat from the pan drippings with a spoon and place the roasting pan over 2 burners set on medium-high heat. Using a wooden spoon, scrape up brown bits stuck to bottom of pan. Whisk the flour into the drippings, stirring as it thickens to prevent lumps. Add the remaining chicken stock and bring to a simmer; season with salt and pepper and hit it with a squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Simmer for 5 minutes and then strain to remove any particles. Serve the gravy with the maple-roasted turkey and cornbread stuffing.
This turkey comes out so tender, moist and flavorful that each time I have prepared it there is never anything left on the plate but bones.
Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. Have you chosen your turkey recipe yet?
PS–Thank you Sandy!!!!!