My friend and host finally came clean this year and told me he has found my stuffing dry in the past. Usually I am manhandling a 25+ pound bird which I feel would never cook if I put the stuffing inside so I make it as dressing in a separate dish and baste it with turkey drippings. This time I had a totally manageable bird of just 16 pounds so I stuffed 'er up! The stuffing was almost too moist! Boy was it good, especially mixed with some gravy and layered on top of turkey for the requisite day after, and after, and after, turkey sandwich.
One thing that I have been doing for the last few years is making a homemade turkey stock or broth the night before. It's pretty easy and a flavourful touch to the big meal. Now for those of you thinking to yourself... 'yeah, because I don't have enough to do before the big day!', don't panic. You can just buy a couple of boxes of chicken broth from the grocery store. It's not the same but it's better than just using water to boil your potatoes in, steam veggies and add to the turkey drippings for the gravy. But if you really want to add a special touch give homemade broth a go. And you can do this anytime ahead of the big dinner. I do it the night before but you can do it earlier. Just buy a turkey neck in the grocery store instead of taking the neck and gizzards out of the bird you are going to roast.
- Turkey neck and gizzards from the inside of the turkey. DO NOT USE THE LIVER - it will give it a bitter taste
- 3 or 4 celery stalks, cut in chunks
- 1 onion, cut in chunks
- 3 or 4 carrots, cut in chunks
- Fresh herbs, I use thyme, sage, rosemary and flat leaf parsley, just throw in a couple of stalks of each
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 - 6 cups of water
- Throw everything in the pot and set it over a medium low heat to simmer, covered. If you get a good boil going it will start to develop a foam on top. Scoop this foam off but don't worry about it too much, nothing you are using the broth for will require it be perfectly clear.
- Let it simmer for a couple of hours until the neck is falling apart. Once that starts to happen, uncover the pot and let it reduce for 30 - 40 minutes. I like a nice intensely flavored broth.
- All that is left is to drain the broth and discard the solid bits of veggies, gizzards, neck and herbs. Chill the broth overnight and then in the morning you can scoop off any fat that has risen to the top.
- I put aside one cup for my gravy. I use the rest to boil the potatoes and turnip in and to steam any veggies I might be making.
- You can freeze any leftovers but make sure the container you put it in has LOTS of room to expand. I have come across leftover broth in my freezer in a broken jar months later.