• Turkey, Cornbread Dressing, and Gravy for Wannabe Southern Cooks

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    This posting includes recipes for brining the turkey (to make it flavorful and tender) to cooking it, creating turkey stock to prepare cornbread dressing, and then using the stock to make gravy. Actually, while this looks time-consuming, it really takes very little prep time, and the labor involved is spread out over 3 days, requiring only minutes here and there to get things done. I prefer Butterball turkeys; however, if you don't have the ability to buy one, brining yours in a salt and sugar solution will make any turkey delicious. Calculate one pound per person when purchasing your turkey, which will give you plenty to serve, plus you'll have some leftovers. Also, have a few cans of chicken stock on hand, just in case.


    • Brine:
    • 2 cups salt
    • 4 cups sugar
    • 1 chopped onion
    • 2 stalks celery, chopped
    • 2 carrots, chopped
    • 3-4 sprigs parsley
    • water to cover the turkey
    • 12-14 lb. turkey
    • 1 onion
    • 1 apple, cut in half
    • butter
    • pepper
    • Turkey Stock:
    • turkey carcass (skin and bones)
    • 4 cups chicken stock (3 cans)
    • 6 cups water
    • 4 carrots, peeled, chopped
    • 4 stalks celery, chopped
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 tsp. thyme
    • 2 tbs. chopped parsley
    • 1/2 tbs. salt
    • 2 tsp. pepper
    • Cornbread Dressing:
    • Double your favorite cornbread recipe, or use the one below, or see links.
    • Cornbread (16 cups):
    • 2 1/2 cups cornmeal
    • 1 1/2 cups flour
    • 3 sticks melted butter
    • 1 cup buttermilk
    • 1 2/3 cups milk
    • 1 tbs. + 1 tsp. baking powder
    • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
    • 2 -3 tbs. sugar
    • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
    • For the Dressing:
    • 1 stick melted butter + 2 tbs. solid butter
    • 1/3 cups each, minced: celery, onions, and carrots
    • 1/2 tbs. dry sage
    • 8 eggs
    • 2-3 cups turkey or chicken stock, or water
    • optional: 1 lb. regular breakfast sausage, or sage flavored, such as Jimmy Dean, cooked, crumbled
    • Gravy (gravy is only as good as its stock):
    • 1 1/2 qts. homemade turkey or chicken stock (6 cups)
    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 1/4 cup flour
    • 1 tsp. dry rubbed sage
    • 1 tsp. dry thyme
    • 2 tbs. chopped parsley
    • 2 hardboiled eggs, sliced or chopped
    • optional: cooked, chopped giblets
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • Equipment:
    • deep tub for brining the turkey and room in your fridge to store it
    • large roasting pan with a lid or foil cover
    • kitchen string
    • large mixing bowl
    • something to baste the turkey with, like a baster or large spoon
    • stock pot for broth
    • 9x13 pan for dressing


    1. Day 1 (Brining):
    2. Wash the turkey and remove the neck, giblets, or anything that it came with.
    3. Make room in the fridge for the brining container and place the turkey in it.
    4. Pour the brining solution over the turkey, cover, let it brine 20-24 hours.
    5. Day 2 (Bake Turkey and Make Broth):
    6. Heat the oven to 350 F.
    7. Remove the turkey from the brine, wash it off, place it in the roasting pan. Put the onion and the apple slices in the cavity of the turkey. Tie its legs together with string, if it did not come with metal leg holders.
    8. Rub some soft butter containing a bit of pepper over the bird, cover, and bake 18 minutes per pound.
    9. After 2 hours, remove the cover and baste the turkey occasionally, re-cover.
    10. The last half hour of cooking, remove the cover so the bird will brown.
    11. When the turkey is done, let it rest 1 hour.
    12. Begin carving it in the pan, so some juices will run to the bottom of the pan.
    13. Move the turkey to a work board and finish carving it.
    14. Plate the meat, cover, and refrigerate it.
    15. Pour off the juices and fat from the pan and put them in the freezer for a while. When the fat hardens at the top, skim it off and throw it away.
    16. Discard the brine.
    17. Turkey Broth:
    18. Add all the ingredients, including the juices, to the stock pot, along with the bones, skin, i.e., the turkey carcass. If the turkey came with a neck bone, add it, too.
    19. Bring the broth to a boil, turn it down to simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
    20. Taste the broth and if its not concentrated in flavor enough, continue reducing until it is.
    21. When it's ready, let cool, strain the broth through a colander. Refrigerate the broth and discard the carcass.
    22. Day 3 (Make Cornbread and Gravy):
    23. Prepare your preferred cornbread recipe. If using mine, heat the oven to 375 F, beat the eggs, add the 2 milks and then add the other ingredients.
    24. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes. Let cool.
    25. Remove the broth from the fridge, and skim any fat from the top.
    26. Reserve 6 cups of the broth.
    27. Cornbread Dressing:
    28. Heat oven to 350 F.
    29. Cook sausage, if using it.
    30. Crumble 12 cups of the cornbread (eat the rest!)
    31. Saute the vegetables in the butter until lightly browned.
    32. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, add the stock/water, and the other ingredients, combine.
    33. (The mixture should be very moist. If not, add more stock or water.)
    34. Pour the mix into a 9x13 greased baking pan.
    35. Bake uncovered 1 hour and check for doneness. If it is not done cooking, cover and bake another 1/2 hour.
    36. Gravy:
    37. Melt the butter in a stock pot, add the flour to make a roux.
    38. Begin adding the stock, stirring continuously.
    39. Keep the heat at low medium while stirring, and when you have the consistency you want, remove it from the stove.
    40. If the gravy has lumps, run it through a strainer.
    41. Add the parsley, giblets, and hardboiled eggs.
    42. Season to taste.
    43. Congratulations, you're a genuine southern cook!

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