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GOOD COOKING

Thanksgiving : The High-Heat Solution

November 20, 1994|ABBY MANDEL

One Thanksgiving Day a friend called frantically to say that all was ready for her dinner . . . except the turkey. She'd forgotten to put it in the oven. Remembering that many French chefs use very high oven temperatures for roasting poultry, I suggested roasting it in foil at 475 degrees. Not only did she put a large, stuffed turkey on the table in 3 1/2 hours, it had amazingly moist flesh, and all without any basting at all. Since then, I have fine-tuned this quick method. These days, it's the only way I roast a turkey, and it never fails.

As for stuffing, I prefer it to be well-seasoned, the kind that can stand on its own with leftovers and on sandwiches. I use hot sausage and packaged herb seasoned stuffing mix, which contribute the basic flavors I'm looking for.

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Always try to find a fresh, high-quality turkey; it makes all the difference. Rinse well with cold water. The turkey can be kept up to two days, refrigerated and covered with a damp towel. A day ahead, make the stock and piece together the heavy-duty foil sheets; this foil wrapping encases the turkey during roasting and actually steams it.

HIGH-HEAT, FOIL-WRAPPED THANKSGIVING TURKEY

1 (16- to 18-pound) turkey

3/4 teaspoon paprika, preferably Hungarian

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Old-Fashioned Sausage, Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing

2 tablespoons oil

2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Giblet Gravy

Cut 3 (3-foot) lengths of heavy-duty foil. Place side-by-side on large, flat surface to make long sheet. Form 1 continuous sheet by double-folding edges together. Securely seal seams. Foil must be airtight. Invert large roasting pan. Center foil over pan and gently shape foil around it. Remove foil. Turn pan over. Carefully fit foil in pan without tearing. Set aside.

Rinse body and neck cavities of turkey. Drain and pat dry with paper towels. Combine paprika, salt and pepper in small dish. Sprinkle seasoning in both cavities, reserving some for surface.

Just before roasting, loosely spoon Old-Fashioned Sausage, Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing into cavities. Put any extra stuffing in 1 1/2-quart casserole. Tie turkey legs together, skewer both cavities to close, and tuck in wings. Wrap several layers of foil around points of skewers to prevent tearing foil around turkey.

Place turkey, breast-side up, in prepared pan. Rub turkey with oil. Sprinkle with remaining seasoning. Bring foil up over sides of turkey, leaving airspace on sides and top of turkey so skin won't tear during roasting. Double fold foil edges to form airtight package.

Bake on lowest oven rack at 475 degrees 2 1/2 hours. Then open foil (carefully, beware of hot steam) and brush breast and legs with melted butter. Tent foil loosely over legs and thighs to prevent drying, but leave breast exposed, and return turkey to oven. Place casserole of stuffing in oven at this time as well. Continue to cook until breast is deeply browned and instant-read thermometer inserted into thigh meat right next to breast registers 170 degrees, about 30 to 60 more minutes.

Remove turkey and casserole of stuffing from oven. Use bulb baster to transfer drippings and pan juices to 2-cup measure. Bring foil back up sides to cover turkey. Let stand 30 minutes before carving. Serve hot. Pass Giblet Gravy separately in gravy boat. Makes 12 to 14 servings.

Each of 12 servings, including Old-Fashioned Sausage, Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing Giblet Gravy, contains about:

874 calories; 776 mg sodium; 271 mg cholesterol; 43 grams fat; 39 grams carbohydrates; 80 grams protein; 0.95 gram fiber.

Each of 12 servings, without stuffing or gravy, contains about:

561 calories; 379 mg sodium; 250 mg cholesterol; 30 grams fat; 0 carbohydrates; 70 grams protein; 0.03 gram fiber.

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\o7 Wild rice, cooked al dente, gives this stuffing its perfect texture. Be sure to remove all the stuffing from the cavities before refrigerating the leftover turkey carcass.

\f7

Old-Fashioned Sausage, Wild Rice and Mushroom Stuffing

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 (12-ounce) package breakfast sausage, preferably hot, crumbled

Turkey liver, optional, diced

1 large red onion, minced

2 large ribs celery, diced

3 1/2 cups sliced, trimmed wild mushrooms, such as shiitake and crimini, or white mushrooms

3 cups cooked wild rice

1 (8-ounce) package herbed seasoned stuffing mix

1 cup small cubed day-old white bread

Red pepper flakes

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

3 to 6 tablespoons Turkey Gravy Stock or reduced-salt chicken stock

Heat butter in 4-quart skillet with high sides or wide pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add sausage, liver, onion and celery. Cook until sausage is cooked through, about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add mushrooms. Cook until just tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add wild rice, seasoned stuffing mix and bread cubes. Season to taste with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Use 2 large wooden spoons to mix. Add just enough Turkey Gravy Stock to moisten stuffing. Stuffing should not be wet. Adjust seasonings.

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