Nov 23, 2010

CECH Dean Shares His Secret Thanksgiving Dinner Recipe

The University of Cincinnati's College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services Dean Larry Johnson highlights an unconventional regional ingredient for his turkey-day stuffing.

I am going to give you some tips on how I cook a turkey and make my stuffing. For planning purposes it takes about 1.5 hours to get the stuffing made and the bird ready for the oven. The bird will cook for about 3 to 3.5 hours and then it we take about 45 minutes to get the gravy made and turkey carved. So the whole prep time to service is about 5.5 – 6.5 hours. First let’s get the ingredients:

1 Turkey 18 to 20 Lbs
4 Tablespoons of Soft Spread Butter (Olivio or Canola Oil)
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Celery Salt
2 to 3 Tablespoons of Ground Bouillon Cube (Kroger has it or you can Substitute Lawry’s Seasoned Salt)
1 Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
12 White Castle hamburgers, no pickles (two Boxes in the frozen section of the grocery)
2 cups celery, diced
2 cups onions, diced
The leftover celery stalks (goes in bottom of pan under turkey to make stock)
1 Medium to Large onion (goes in bottom of pan under turkey to make stock)
1 Large Carrot (goes in bottom of pan under turkey to make stock)
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 package of Caesar Croutons
½ cup diced cilantro (or parsley)
11/2 Teaspoon Thyme
2 Tablespoons ground sage
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tablespoons of cornstarch (for the gravy)
1 pint chicken livers (optional)
Kitchen Bouquet

Sauté onions and parsley in a tablespoon of soft spread in a large frying pan. Add celery salt, a pinch of the sage and pepper. Only sauté this mixture for a short period of time until the onions get slightly translucent and the celery gets deeper green (perhaps a minute or two at most). Next dump all of this mixture into a large mixing bowl and let cool. Cube the White Castle Cheeseburgers, bun and all, and add them to the bowl. Now add the cheese, croutons, wild rice, cilantro (or parsley), sage, and thyme. Mix together with the contents of the frying pan. Now break two eggs into the mixture and mix. Finally, add the chicken stock until you have the right texture (I like it most so I add it all).

Empty the gizzards and other parts from the bird and rinse the turkey inside and out with cold running water, drain and pat dry with paper towels. Tuck the wing tips under the body. Now you have to decide if you are going to stuff the bird or cook the stuffing separately. I like to stuff the bird because I believe the stuffing tastes better and helps keep the bird moist. To make sure it is cooked, put the stuffing in the microwave for ten minutes after I take it out of the turkey. If you choose not to stuff the bird, cut up apples and put them in the cavity to help keep the meat moist. Cook the stuffing for 1 hour in a covered dish at 350.

Next, put the gizzards and other parts from the inside in the bottom of the turkey cooking pan. (Sometimes I add a pint of chicken livers – these are good if you want a giblet gravy and they add lots of flavor.) I add what is left over from the celery stalks with a roughly chopped onion and a large carrot in the bottom as well and cover this mixture with water (this all cooks to make a great gravy stock). Then I put the stuffed turkey on the rack and take the rest of the soft spread and I spread it all over the top of the turkey. Finally I sprinkle the ground bouillon over the top of the turkey and put what I don’t use in the bottom of the pan. The oil and the bouillon helps make a very crisp skin and add flavor to the turkey and the gravy.

Roast the turkey by starting at a high temperature and then turning it down. This procedure helps to yield crisp skin and moist meat. First, preheat the oven to 425 and place the turkey in the oven. Keep it at this temperature for 30 minutes and then turn the oven down to 350. When the turkey has cooked for an hour, get some tin foil and loosely tent it over the top of the turkey. Total cooking time should be 3 to 3.5 hours for an 18 to 20 pound bird, but it can vary, depending on your oven. After about 3 hours, check the bird every 15 minutes and take it out when the temperature reads 165. Take the bird out and let it rest for 30 minutes on the carving platter, before carving.

While the turkey is resting, make the gravy. Wisk cornstarch in ¾ cups of water, then strain the mixture into a medium-sized sauce pan for cooking the gravy. Next, strain out the water and drippings from the bottom of the turkey pan. I do this in a bowl and then take about two cups of this and add it to the sauce pan. If you want giblet gravy, take out the chicken livers, chop them up and add them to the pan. Next, heat the mixture occasionally, stirring until it thickens. Add a touch of Kitchen Bouquet to get the right color (you can add a little celery salt if it needs it – if it gets too thick, add stock. If it doesn’t thicken after about 5 minutes of cooking, add a little more cornstarch). Once the gravy is made, empty the turkey of the stuffing and microwave it for 10 minutes then cover it and set it aside (it will stay warm for some time). Finally, carve the turkey and serve. If you add cranberries, your favorite vegetable, mashed potatoes, and a good loaf bread – you are home free!! Enjoy!!!!

- Larry

Anyone else have a unique take on this thanksgiving staple? Comment below. Happy Thanksgiving!

1 comment:

  1. Great info - the stuffing recipe looks particulary interesting! Thanks for sharing.