Roasted Split Organic Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing

Ingredients:

Stuffed Turkey

1 12-14 pound heritage or organic turkey
4-5 sprigs of each: organic thyme, sage, Italian parsley, leaves removed and chopped
6-8 tablespoons of olive oil

*1 pound shelled steamed chestnuts
3 organic leeks, cleaned, green parts removed and white part chopped fine
2 ounces of organic butter

6 ounces ricotta cheese (see our recipe for easy homemade organic ricotta cheese)
2 cups bread crumbs
8 ounces organic butter brought to room temperature
Leaves from 4-6 sprigs of thyme
3-4 sage leaves
2 organic eggs
2 cups parmesan cheese grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Gravy:

2 cups dry white wine
9 cups turkey stock (see our recipe here)
3/4 cup all purpose flower

Method:

Put oven rack in lowest position and preheat oven to 375°F.

Rinse turkey inside and out with warm water and pat dry with a paper towel.

Sauté leeks in 2 ounces of butter until translucent and remove from heat and cool. Meanwhile, toast chestnuts in a sauté pan over medium heat until fragrant remove from heat and cool. Finely chop chestnuts and add to leeks. Stir to combine.

Combine thyme, sage and Italian parsley in olive oil and set aside (you will rub this herbed olive oil over the bird after you have stuffed it).

Combine remaining ingredients: ricotta cheese, bread crumbs, butter, thyme, sage, eggs, parmesan cheese and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in leek and chestnut mixture and salt and pepper to taste.

On a flat surface with the back bone facing up, use poultry shearers to remove backbone of turkey by cutting along each side of the backbone. Reserve for another use such as turkey stock (you can remove the back bone several days ahead so you can then use it to make your turkey stock in advance). Turn over turkey, so breast is facing up, and firmly strike the breast bone with the back of a chef’s knife to break the breast bone, collar bone and rib cage. You can also flip the turkey over and use your hands to pull rib cage out to the side thereby breaking it so the turkey lies flat when turned over. Generously sprinkle rib cage with salt and pepper.

Using a small paring knife, delicately run it between the skin of the bird and the meat loosening the skin. Continue loosening skin by running your fingers between the skin and the meat throughout the bird. Cut small slits with the paring knife at the joints of the thigh and wings and loosen skin with fingers. Place stuffing between the skin and the meat. Stuff the wings and the legs the same way. Gently massage skin on the outside to evenly spread stuffing around the bird. Rub herbed olive oil over bird. Generously salt and pepper bird to taste.

Lay turkey flat (breast up) in roasting pan and place in oven. Baste turkey every 30 minutes, checking that skin is browning nicely. If skin begins to brown too fast, loosely tent turkey with tin foil to slow the browning. Roast turkey until thermometer inserted into fleshy part of thigh (do not touch the bone) registers 170°F, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Note: Generally speaking, you will roast a stuffed bird 12-15 minutes per pound. If the bird is not stuffed, you will roast the turkey 10-12 minutes per pound. A turkey is done when thermometer that is plunged into the thickest part of the thigh registers 170º-175°F.

Remove turkey from oven and transfer to serving platter, cover and let rest for 25 minutes. The internal temperature of turkey will continue to rise to about 180°F.

Pour juices left in roasting pan through a fine mesh strainer and skim fat from juice or use a fat separator, you should have about 1/2 cup of fat. If you do not have 1/2 cup of fat, add melted butter to fat to total 1/2 cup and set aside (you will use this fat to make the roux for the gravy).

In a 3-quart saucepan bring 8 cups of turkey stock and defatted pan juices to a simmer.

Place roasting pan over 2 burners and deglaze with wine. Reduce wine about 1 minute while scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon. Strain reduction and add to 3-quart saucepan.

Place roasting pan over two burners on low heat. Add flour and 1/2 cup of reserved fat and whisk for about 5 minutes until roux takes on a nutty smell and is golden brown and smooth. Taste the roux. If it still tastes like flour, keep cooking it until it takes on a nutty flavor and is golden brown (do not brown too much however because the roux will loose its thickening properties).

Pour hot stock mixture into roux in a steady stream while whisking constantly until gravy is smooth and all lumps have disappeared. Simmer while occasionally whisking until gravy is thickened about 10 minutes. Pour in turkey juices from platter. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

* Shelling chestnuts on your own can be very labor intensive. Thus, in the interest of saving time I have used prepared chestnuts that have been shelled and steamed. You can find them in specialty food stores.

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