America's Test Kitchen: Old Fashioned Stuffed Turkey & Gravy for Thanksgiving

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I'm not sure if I'd call myself a foodie, but I know that I like to eat all kinds of food whether it's Mexican, Southern, Mediterranean, Japanese, etc. This diverse world of ours is full of all kinds of wonderful food that fill our tummies and comforts the soul. If I had to choose one cuisine that I would consider to be my favorite, I would choose Chinese food. I'm lucky to have many, good Chinese restaurants located near me. The problem (at least for me) is that

making Chinese food at home is never the same as the dishes that I get from a Chinese restaurant. One possible reason is because the kitchens from Chinese restaurants are outfitted with a high butane gas stove that they use to heat up large woks of food. The high heat coupled with a properly seasoned wok imparts that certain flavor to Chinese dishes that is hard to describe in words, so I just call it that "wok" flavor. Luckily, America's Test Kitchen has a recipe for a Chinese dish that doesn't require a high heat stove or even a wok. I'm surprised to say their recipe to pork shumai is pretty close to what you would get when you go get dim sum for lunch at a Chinese restaurant.

America's Test Kitchen Old Fashioned Stuffed Turkey and Gravy for Thanksgiving
America's Test Kitchen Old Fashioned Stuffed Turkey & Gravy
ATK Carved Thanksgiving Turkey
Carved Thanksgiving Turkey
Let's start with the meat first. Even though it's more work, making your own ground pork is well worth it. If you want to save some time and effort, then by all means just use a pack of ground pork that you can buy from your grocery store. If you happen to have an actual meat grinder instead of a food processor, you can use that too. I've found that country style pork ribs is very inexpensive and can be as cheap as 99 cents per pound for a 6 lb pack when it's on sale at my grocery store. I've also used pork shoulder to make pork shumai and found that to be just as good. The problem with grinding your own meat is that you really have to trim the fat. Whether you're using country style ribs or pork shoulder, there's going to be long strands of sinewy fat and silver skin. You're going to have to trim that off, but getting all of it can be quite tedious. What I found that worked pretty well was to trim off the larger pieces of sinewy fat...whatever you can get off. When you're ready to start filling up the wonton wrappers after running the meat in the food processor and mixing in the other ingredients, you'll see that there will be long strands of fat when you're trying to get a spoonful at a time. This fat will never melt away and break down, but by this point, you can easily remove it from the meat mixture using your fingers to pick it off. There's no need to trim it with a knife since the meat is already ground into small pieces, so separating it from the meat mixture is straight forward. I didn't bother grinding half the pork more coarsely than the other, and I didn't grind the shrimp either. I rouphly chopped the shrimp into small pieces (about 1 cm in length) before mixing it into the meat. I've found that you can taste the shrimp more when it isn't ground.

There were some ingredients that Becky Hayes from America's Test Kitchen uses which I left off. For example, I excluded cilantro because that's something I'm not accustomed to tasting in pork shumai. I know a lot of people hate cilantro and find it unappealing. I absolutely love cilantro, but just not in my dim sum. This same goes for the bit of carrot she uses as garnish. Other than a bit of color, I feel that it's unnecessary. I've seen some restaurants put a small piece of shrimp up top. I also left off the gelatin as well. That's something that I don't normally have in my pantry. The first time I made shumai I didn't include it, and it seemed to turn out just fine without it. Becky uses eggroll wrappers that she cuts circles from. You can buy circular wonton wrappers that are already the right size for pork shumai. I really liked the use of water chestnuts and mushrooms in the shumai. The water chestnuts added a nice crunch when you bite into it. Ifelt that both the water chestnuts and mushrooms prevented the shumai from being too "meaty". In regards to the mushrooms, I didn't use dried shitake mushrooms. My grocery store had shitake mushrooms in the produce section which I ended up getting which worked fine, so you can use either that or the dried variety.

I ended up buying a bamboo steamer, just so that I can try this recipe. I've found that it was well worth the investment. Luckily, they're not expensive and Amazon has a lot to choose from. That will give me extra incentive to find other food to steam like fish or vegetables which is a healthier alternative to cooking in oil.

FlavorFool's Notes

  • I didn't use salt pork, but I'm open to the idea of using bacon or pancetta instead.
  • Definitely roast the turkey breast side down if you want tender and moist white meat. This sounds unorthodox, but it definitely works allowing the white meat to soak up the juices.
  • I used another recipe for the gravy since it has been in the family for decades.
  • Rub some butter in between the skin and flesh of the turkey to get a crispy skin.
  • Old Fashioned Stuffed Turkey & Gravy Recipe for Thanksgiving

    America's Test Kitchen - season 11, episode 15, Thanksgiving Turkey
    serves 10 to 12


    1 (12 to 14 lb turkey), neck and giblets reserved for gravy
    3 tbsp plus 2 tsp kosher salt
    2 tsp baking powder
    12 oz salt pork, cut into 1/4 inch slices and rinsed [I left this out]

    4 tbsp (half stick) unsalted butter, plus extra for the baking dish
    1.5 lbs (about 15 slices) white sandwich bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 12 cups)
    2 celery ribs, chopped fine
    1 medium onion, minced
    Ground black pepper and Kosher salt
    1 tbsp minced fresh marjoram leaves
    2 tbsp minced fresh thyme leaves
    1 tbsp minced fresh sage leaves
    1.5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    2 large eggs
    1 36-inch square cheesecloth, folded in quarters


    1. For the turkey: use your fingers or the handle of a wooden spoon to separate the turkey skin from the meat on the breast, thighs, legs, and back; avoid breaking the skin. Rub 1 tbsp of salt evenly inside the cavity of the turkey, 1.5 tsp salt under the skin of each breast half, and 1.5 tsp salt under the skin of each leg. Wrap the turkey tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 - 48 hrs.

    2. For the stuffing: adjust oven rack to the lowest position and heat oven to 250 degrees. Spread the bread cubes in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until the edges have dried but the centers are slightly moist (the cubes should yield to pressure), about 45 mins, stirring several times during baking. Transfer to a large bowl and increase the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

    3. While the bread dries, heat the butter in a 12 in. skillet over medium/high heat; when the foaming subsides, add the celery, onion, 1 tsp pepper, and 2 tsp salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften and brown slightly, 7 - 10 mins. Stir in the herbs; cook until fragrant, about 1 min. Add the vegetables to the bowl with the dried bread; add 1 cup of the broth and toss until evenly moistened.

    4. To roast the turkey: combine the baking powder and remaining 2 tsp salt in a small bowl. Remove the turkey from the refrigerator and unwrap. Thoroughly dry the turkey inside and out with paper towels. Using a skewer, poke 15 - 20 holes in the fat deposits on top of the breast halves and thighs, 4 - 5 holes in each deposit. Sprinkle the surface of the turkey with the salt/baking powder mixture and rub in the mixture with your hands, coating the skin evenly. Tuck the wings underneath the turkey. Line the turkey cavity with the cheesecloth, pack with 4-5 cups stuffing, and tie the ends of the cheesecloth together. Cover the remaining stuffing with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Using twine, loosely tie the turkey legs together. Place the turkey breast side down in a V-rack set in a roasting pan and drape the salt pork slices over the back [I didn't use salt pork].

    5. Roast the turkey breast side down until the thickest part of the breast registers 130 degrees on an instant read thermometer, 2 - 2.5 hrs. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees. Transfer the turkey in the V-rack to a rimmed baking sheet. Remove and discard the salt pork. Using clean potholders or kitchen towels, rotate the turkey breast side up. Cut the twine binding the legs and remove the stuffing bag; empty into the reserved stuffing in the bowl. Pour the drippings from the roasting pan into a fat separator and rsever for gravy, if making.

    6. Once the oven has come to temperature, return the turkey in the V-rack to the roasting pan and roast until the skin is crisp and golden brown, the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees, and the thickest part of the thigh registers 175 degrees, about 45 mins, rotating the pan halfway through. Transfers the turkey to a carving board and let rest, uncovered, for 30 mins.

    7. While the turkey rests, reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Whisk the eggs and remaining half cup broth together ina small bowl. Pour the egg mixture over the stuffing and toss to combine, breaking up any large chunks; spread in a buttered 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Bake until the stuffing registers 165 degrees and the top is golden brown, about 15 mins. Carve the turkey and serve with stuffing.

    Video: America's Test Kitchen Old Fashioned Stuffed Turkey (part 1)

    Video: America's Test Kitchen Old Fashioned Stuffed Turkey (part 1)


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