According to Cook’s Illustrated, the most perfect way to roast a turkey involves roasting it upside down with salt pork draped over the back. Since the narrative accompanying the recipe makes it seem like every other attempt to roast a turkey will result in some disastrous outcome or another, I decided to give their method a try. Not having any salt pork handy (or even actually knowing what it is), I substituted bacon, which looked very similar to what they had drawn in the illustration.
The smell of a roasting turkey is just the most wonderful thing. Layering the campfire smell of roasting bacon on top of it is exquisite. I was drooling all day. Per CI’s instructions, I had stuffed the turkey (more on that later), with the intention of removing the stuffing when I flipped the bird over. The only really problematic part of the recipe is the turning of the bird, during which I dropped stuffing all over and burned myself twice. In the end, I decided to sacrifice two dish towels to the process, and simply used them as handles to grab either end of the bird. This method made the turn remarkably simple. I finished the bird breast side up, no foil tent or anything, and the skin came out a nice crispy brown.
With the slight flavor of bacon grease and a super moist breast, this may have been my favorite turkey ever. You can certainly grab a CI from the bookstore now and keep the recipe handy, but the thrust of it is this: roast the turkey upside down with bacon draped over the back until you only have about an hour cooking time left, empty it and flip it right side up for the last hour of roasting. Take the removed stuffing and mix it in with the part that didn’t make it into the bird for want of room. While the bird rests, bake the stuffing (covered with foil) until up to temperature. This simple trick resulted in my best bird ever.
A big part of what makes the meal great though is the stuffing. At some point in my life, I may make oyster or sausage stuffing, but I just can’t imagine it because I am in LOVE with my recipe. It’s a bit sweet as far as stuffing goes, entirely a result of the dates, which are AMAZING in this recipe. Dried pears are becoming harder and harder to come by, but there is no substitute.
1 10 oz loaf Sourdough
1 9×9 pan cornbread
1 onion, diced
5 carrots, diced
5 stalks celery, diced
4 Tb butter
12 – 15 dates, chopped
12 dried pear halves, chopped
1 C broth
salt and peper
Cut the breads into cubes and leave out overnight to dry.
Saute the onion, carrot, and celery in butter in a large pan, until soft. Meanwhile, thoroughly chop the dried fruits.
Mix all ingredients until well blended, add salt and pepper, and pour broth over the top. Add another 1/2 C broth if the mix looks dry.