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Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon, and Cornbread Stuffing

Turkey day is almost here! I figured I better hurry up and post a few recipes those that are still in need of Thanksgiving recipe inspiration.

As a side note, do you make the traditional food for Thanksgiving (turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, etc.) or do you go with more unusual food?  I am often torn between trying something new and relying on the old stand by recipes.

Anyhow, onto the meal. Tyler Florence rocks this turkey/stuffing recipe. The pan drippings make a very unusual gravy that is slightly sweet. My only complaint was that even with a lot of basting going on, it turned out not as juicy as I would’ve hoped. Anyone have any tips in that area?

Maple-Roasted Turkey with Sage, Smoked Bacon, and Cornbread Stuffing
Serves 6-8

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 tube of Jimmy Dean maple sausage (I believe its 1/2 to 1 lb), cooked and drained
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

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and remove the top rack.

2. 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.

3. In a saute 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 sauteed onion mixture on top. Add the cooked maple sausage. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence

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  1. LOL at the pink juicy pants. Actually last week or so I was thinking of creating a menu and trying a few new recipes to see how they turn out and if I want to add them to my usuals. But I'm not sure if we're going to our friend's house again or not. If so, I will probably bring a few dishes anyways.

    I do tend to like the traditional dishes, but each year I collect recipes and intend on trying stuff. But it just always seems to be easier not to though, because I know how to do the tried and true things without even thinking about it.

    We'll see how I feel though being like about 7 months pregnant by then. I can't believe it though, it's not that far away!! wow

  2. OK, I normally don't really like turkey, and you have my mouth watering with that picture! Well done! Looks just great. 😀

    a.k.a. The Hungry Mouse

  3. It doesn't look quite as pretty, but I have found that roasting breast side down allows the juices from the dark meat to keep the breast juicier while cooking.

  4. Put bacon or sausage in anything and I'm there! Add maple and it's even better! Thanks for the great Thanksgiving ideas! 🙂

  5. I do a turkey recipe that looks a lot like yours, but I baste the turkey every 1/2 hour in generous amounts of cream. It comes out moist and beautiful, and who cares about the calories when it is a once a year dish?

  6. Oh my, that looks wonderful. I do believe I need to start planning for the big day. Thanks for the great recipes.

  7. I stumbled upon your site…. and I thought to pass on another Thanksgiving site I came across on StumbleUpon:

    The Skinny Chef Thanksgiving series of recipes and posts includes healther versions of classics such as

    # Scalloped Potatoes
    # Cranberry Sauce
    # Thanksgiving Stuffing
    # Gingerbread Cookies

    For those of us who aren’t used to cooking a huge celebration meal, it might seem daunting – so that's why I liked the Skinny Chef's simple tips and do ahead ideas that even beginning cooks can use.

    Keep cooking,

  8. Ali — Somehow I got out of the habit of visiting your site (sites?). I always love your recipes. I'm delighted you are still blogging. We need you! I was looking for the stuffed sweet potatoes recipe but couldn't find it. Yeah, I know, it's hardly a recipe. Cooked sweet potato, then sliced open and stuffed with butter, brown sugar, walnuts and mini-marshmallow. I still haven't tried it although it pops up in my head this time of year.