Grandmother Hutchinson’s amazing turkey stuffing is the one things I look forward to most every holiday season. It’s got just the right amount of spice to balance out the sage. And if you get to it quickly and are able to get a piece from the top part of it that has cooked to a crust on the outside of the bird (in the photo it’s a darker brown), it’s a treat to die for. (In my house you will note that the outside crust of dressing steadily disappears during the last hour of turkey cooking. I maintain my right to refuse to comment on where it might be disappearing to even though the occurrences coincide with my “basting” times. )
Grandmother Hutchinson is my husband’s grandmother, so I didn’t have this the entire time I was growing up, but he did. I’m jealous. When my mother-in-law first introduced this recipe to me many years ago we had to use an old-fashioned meat grinder to mince and grind all the ingredients. Nowadays you can use any food processor to achieve the same results in a fraction of the time. We also substitute Jimmy Dean sausage for the link sausage she used to use. It brings it from a 2-days-to-prepare recipe to something doable for all busy moms (or dads).
We start this recipe the day before by pulling the giblets out of the bird and putting them in a sauce pan and covering them with water. Boil then simmer for several hours, adding water as needed. Reserve giblets and water in pan. Allow to cool. Later in the day proceed as follows:
Giblets (prepared as stated above)
2 rolls Jimmy Dean regular sausage
1 roll Jimmy Dean Hot sausage
1 head celery (washed thoroughly to remove dirt)
4-5 large onions
1 bag bread stuffing
Poultry Seasoning (about 4-5 tablespoons)
Remove the meat from the cooked turkey neck, then place it in a very large bowl or half of a big roasting pan. You’ll need lots of space for mixing. Be careful not to get any bones in it. Put the rest of the giblets in your food processor and process until minced. Add those to the bowl.
Add the uncooked sausage rolls to the bowl.
Mince or shred (I mince) the head of celery in your food processor. Add contents to the big bowl.
Mince or shred all the onions. Add to the bowl. Quickly cover them with the bag of bread stuffing (if it’s cubed, mince it in processor first). Mix. The faster you do this, the faster you will tame the onion fumes.
Add the poultry seasoning. Mix thoroughly, adding 1/2 cup of juice from giblets or more as necessary to keep the stuffing very moist. Put it all into a big ziplock bag until the next morning when you are ready to stuff the bird. Do not –I repeat, do not stuff the turkey the the evening before. If you do, the juices from the bird can get into it and cause all kinds of problems like food poisoning.
The next morning, take out your bird and wash it thoroughly inside and out. Pat it dry. Stuff the neck cavity of the bird first, tucking the skin under to secure. Then stuff the abdominal cavity until a neat little mound of stuffing protrudes. It will swell with cooking so don’t do too much. (you can see in the photo above that some of the stuffing is darker than the rest. That is the result of the swelling. The darker patch is how much was exposed at the beginning to give you an idea how much we stuff.) Put remaining stuffing in loaf pan and cook it in oven just like you would a meatloaf. Cook your bird as usual being sure to following roasting charts for a stuffed bird. It needs to be in a lower oven temperature for a longer period of time.