The dish Save it, folks. I can already hear it. No, this isn't a brined turkey recipe. Don't get me wrong, I love brined turkeys. In fact, I've made one each Thanksgiving for the past few years. I'm well aware of their popularity, ranking somewhere between the cupcake and sliders. But Alton's take on turkey and stuffing harkens back to an old-school version.
The difficulty I would rate this one as moderate. It's not difficult, but does require focus. That's code for: Keep the kids out of the kitchen. There's a fair amount of chopping involved, and a few side jobs like soaking the mushrooms and cleaning the turkey. Finding a good loaf of Challah bread can be a fairly difficult task. I found mine at Three Brothers Bakery.
The presentation Again, I love a good brined turkey, but it sure is hard beating the presentation of a turkey and stuffing. As you can tell, I let the bird do the talking. I know it's common to add veggies and fruits around the turkey, but I left mine alone. I'm more of a fan of dressing up some of the side dishes. The golden turkey skin and the crispy exterior of the stuffing made for a wonderful presentation.
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The slim down It's hard to imagine slimming this one down any more. There are no Paula pats of butter tucked under the skin. And the stuffing is fairly healthy. I ditched the pecans (my wife is allergic) and eliminating one egg probably wouldn't detract much. Don't substitute the Challah.
The tips It is absolutely critical to get all of your ingredients out on the counter. Chop everything, soak the mushrooms, and get that turkey cleaned. These are all critical steps before you really delve into the cooking, especially if you are working in a smaller kitchen. I recommend chopping the veggies as well as the dried cherries into small pieces. Also, follow the suggested cooking times, but keep an eye on the bird. Every oven heats differently, and you don't want to overcook it.
The verdict Good, but certainly not memorable. This is a solid turkey and stuffing recipe. The stuffing came out a little too salty, but the sage, dried cherries and mushrooms provided a nice flavor. The turkey meat was a little bland, but moist, and worked well with the salty stuffing. This is a good recipe if you want to put a bird on the table that people will enjoy, with few complaints.