Crisp & Tender Turkey with Traditional Stuffing

The holidays will soon be here. No, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but this early, I am looking forward to planning for Christmas day.

It is always my husband who prepares the Turkey for Christmas. Usually it is Lechon that I serve on Christmas day. Last Christmas, we both had turkey and Lechon to satisfy the whole family. My husband prepares Roast Turkey without any stuffing but that will change this year. Recently, the Peninsula Manila Executive Chef Patrick Boucher at The Maya Kitchen shared this recipe on Roast turkey with traditional stuffing.

Serves 10 to 12

Table salt is not recommended for this recipe because it is too fine. To roast a kosher or self-basting turkey (such as a frozen Butterball), do not salt it in step 1. Look for salt pork that is roughly equal parts fat and lean meat. The bread can be toasted up to 1 day in advance.


For the turkey:
1 pc. Turkey (12 to 15lbs), giblets and neck reserved for gravy
3 tbs. plus 2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 tsp. Baking powder
12 oz. Salt pork, rinsed and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
For the stuffing:
1 ½ lbs. White sandwich bread (about 15 slices), cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
4 tbs. Butter (unsalted), plus extra for baking dish
1 cup Onion (medium sized), finely chopped
1 cup Celery ribs, finely chopped
To taste Kosher salt
To taste Ground black pepper
2 tbs. Fresh thyme leaves, minced
1 tbs Fresh marjoram leaves, minced
1 tbs Fresh sage leaves, minced
1 ½ cups Low-sodium chicken broth
1 pc. 136-inch square cheesecloths, folded in quarters
2 Eggs (large)

For the turkey

1. Using fingers or handle of wooden spoon, separate turkey skin from meat on breast, legs, thighs, and back; avoid breaking skin.

2. Rub 1 tablespoon salt evenly inside the cavity of the turkey. Rub 1 ½ teaspoons salt under the skin of each breast, and 1 ½ teaspoons salt under the skin of each leg.

3. Wrap the turkey tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate 24 to 48 hours.

For the stuffing

1. Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and heat oven to 250º Celsius. Spread bread cubes in single layer on the baking sheet.

2. Bake until the edges have dried but centers are slightly moist (cubes should yield to pressure) for about 45 minutes, stirring several times during baking.

3. Transfer to a large bowl and increase oven temperature to 325 º Celsius.

4. While bread dries, heat 4 tablespoons of butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.

5. When foaming subsides, add onion, celery, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper; cook for 7 to 10 minutes – stirring occasionally until vegetables begin to soften and brown slightly. Stir in herbs and cook for about 1 minute or until fragrant.

6. Add vegetables to bowl with dried bread; add 1 cup broth and toss until evenly moistened.

To roast the turkey:

1. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons kosher salt and baking powder in a small bowl. Remove turkey from refrigerator and unwrap. Using paper towels, thoroughly dry the turkey inside and out.

2. Using a skewer, poke 15 to 20 holes in fat deposits of the turkey which are found on top of the breast halves and thighs (4 to 5 holes in each deposit).

3. Sprinkle the surface of the turkey with salt-baking powder mixture and rub in mixture with hands, coating skin evenly. Tuck the wings underneath turkey.

4. Line turkey cavity with cheesecloth, pack with 4 to 5 cups stuffing, tie the ends of cheesecloth together. Cover remaining stuffing with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

5. Using twine, loosely tie turkey legs together. Place turkey (breast-side down) on a V-rack set in roasting pan and drape salt pork slices over back.

6. Roast turkey (breast-side down) until the thickest part of breast registers 130º Celsius on instant-read thermometer for 2 to 2 ½ hours.

7. Remove the roasting pan from the oven (close oven door) and increase oven temperature to 450º Celsius.

8. Transfer the turkey on a V-rack rimmed with a baking sheet. Remove and discard salt pork. Using clean potholders or kitchen towels, rotate turkey (breast-side up).

9. Cut twine binding legs and remove stuffing bag; empty into reserved stuffing in bowl. Pour drippings from roasting pan into fat separator and reserve for gravy (optional).

10. Once oven has come to temperature, return turkey still on the V-rack to the roasting pan and roast until the skin is golden brown, crisp and the thickest part of the turkey breast registers 160º Celsius, and the thickest part of turkey thigh registers 175º Celsius for about 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfer turkey to a carving board and let it rest, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

11. While turkey rests, reduce the oven temperature to 400º Celsius. Whisk eggs and remaining ½ cup broth together in small bowl. Pour egg mixture over stuffing and toss to combine, breaking up any large chunks. Spread in buttered 13” x 9” baking dish. Bake until the stuffing registers 165º Celsius and the top is golden brown for about 15 minutes. Carve turkey and serve with the stuffing.

The Cranberry Sauce
Serves 8-10
3 tbs. Butter (unsalted)
1 pc. Red onion (large), finely diced
2 tbs. Fresh ginger (grated)
1 cup Orange juice
½ cup Light brown sugar
1 lb. Cranberries
2 pcs. Ripe mango, halved, pitted and diced
1 tbs Orange zest (grated)

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat.
Toss in onions and ginger and cook until soft. Add in the orange juice and brown sugar then bring to a boil. Add half of the cranberries then cook until they pop. Add the remaining cranberries and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Add mangoes and zest.

Serve at room temperature. This cranberry sauce mixture will keep in the refrigerator for a week.

The Gravy
(All-purpose gravy)

Makes 2 Cups
½ cup Carrot, peeled and chopped into rough ½ inch pieces
½ cup Celery rib, chopped into rough ½ inch pieces
¾ cup Onion, chopped into rough ½ inch pieces (about ¾ cup)
3 tbs. Butter (unsalted)
¼ cup Maya all-purpose flour (unbleached)
2 cups Chicken broth
2 cups Beef broth
1 pc. Bay leaf
¼ tsp. Dried thyme
5 pcs. Whole black peppercorns
ground black pepper


1. In a food processor, pulse carrot until broken into rough ¼ inch pieces, (this will take about five – 1-second-pulses).

2. Add celery and onion and pulse until all vegetables are broken into 1/8 inch pieces (this will take about five 1 second pulses).

3. In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the butter medium-high heat. When foaming subsides, add vegetables and cook while stirring frequently until the vegetables have softened and well browned for about 7 minutes.

4. Reduce heat to medium. Stir in flour and cook while stirring constantly, until vegetables are thoroughly browned and fragrant for about five minutes.

5. Whisking constantly, gradually add the broths and bring to a boil while skimming off any foam that forms on the surface.

6. Reduce heat to medium-low and add bay leaf, thyme and peppercorns. Simmer while stirring occasionally and until the saice thickens and is reduced to 3 cups for 20 -25 minutes.

7. Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer into a clean saucepan, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

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