Deconstructed Turkey and Stuffing with Vegetables in ONE Roaster!
This recipe is going to totally change how you roast your holiday turkeys, no word of a lie! This all in one roaster concept is how I am going to cook my holiday turkey dinners from now on – it's so easy, fast and no more arguing over when the turkey is done because the breast cooks too fast, the thighs cook too slow – it can't be only my family that likes to argue about cooking the Christmas turkey, right?
This concept has been rattling around my empty noggin ever since I saw Aimee from Simple Bites post her Sheet Pan Turkey Meal recipe this past Thanksgiving here in Canada. It brought to mind Julie's deconstructed turkey post that I remembered seeing last winter as well. I also know that I have watched Rachel Ray roast a turkey ON vegetables sometime in the past few years. Julia Child was probably the very first to come up with deconstructed turkey and stuffing, but I don't have the cookbook that the recipe is in. So between those four recipes and concepts I decided that I wanted it all, because that's how I roll for the holidays.
I wanted deconstructed turkey AND stuffing AND vegetables in one roaster, darn it. I also wanted a big turkey that would feed my entire extended family with no problem. Don't worry, I always am shooting for the moon, a girl has to aim high, right? It also helps that I am the one that is always in charge of the turkey during Thanksgiving and Christmas and as much fun as it is arguing (good-naturedly) over when the turkey is going to be done with my mom and my sister, that will happen no more.
So, here it is. And it's magnificent. That is a 16 lb turkey, my friends and it cooked up like A BOSS.
Sixteen glorious, delicious pounds of deconstructed turkey and stuffing for me and the two kids.
That's the glamorous food blogger life, I am afraid. Mike was in San Francisco on a client trip and I have to make sure that I get my holiday recipes out to you guys ASAP. I'm officially tired of turkey and the holidays haven't even started. I had to test whether a large and in charge turkey would actually work with this method. It does, it did, and it's going to be the way I make the Christmas turkey down at my parents house in Phoenix this year.
That also means that I have new turkey leftover recipes for you all coming soon as well, because Lord knows that 16 lbs sure needed to get used up on something other than hot turkey sandwiches.
Now, a few things. This deconstructed turkey took 2 1/2 hours to cook in total, with me testing it along the way, so I definitely interfered with the cooking process by opening the oven repeatedly. I'm going to surmise that this would have actually taken close to 2 hours if I hadn't kept releasing the heat from the oven! TWO HOURS!!! That is HALF the normal roasting time, basically!
I wanted to test, however, to see if the turkey pieces were keeping up with each other temperature wise. At the 2 hour mark, the thighs were at 177° F and the breast was at 150°. I am just in awe at how this worked out. Most methods chop the breast in half and remove the wings, but the first time I tried that the breasts were dried out. So I cooked the entire breast together this time, wings and all, and it was turkey magic.
The breast needs reach 165°F and the dark meat can be as high as 200 °F or more. Dark meat is so forgiving when it comes to “over” cooking, but really, to get the perfect texture thighs need to reach at least 185 °F. Did you know that? A lot of my American readers ask me on my chicken/turkey dark meat recipes why I tell them to cook to at least 185°F and that's the reason. It's because the USDA used to recommend that you cooked the breast to 165 and the thigh to 180, and then they changed it to all 165. That is just a food safety temperature, my friends, and NOT the actual best temperature for dark meat. The fat dissolves more and the dark meat fibers break down into a more tender meat when you hit 185 as a minimum. This method actually lets you achieve this!
Now if you have a freakazoid turkey that has a huge breast and small thighs, I would separate the breast and roast it in two pieces so that you don't really overcook the turkey thighs. Leave the wings on, however, to help keep the skin on, and thus the moisture inside the breast. It needs all the help it can get.
You also have a few choices in turkey placement:
- Place the turkey thighs on top of the stuffing for extra moisture. If you have really fatty turkey thighs, know that the fat will drip through into the stuffing. Which was AMAZING, I actually dream about this stuffing, it's the best I have ever eaten.
- Place the turkey breast on the stuffing if you already have a stuffing that is perfect and just needs cooking, without the extra moisture, and if you don't want the grease.
- Place the turkey thighs on the vegetables and they will be covered in turkey drippings. You will also be able to scoop the drippings out from under the vegetables if you want more for gravy.
- Place the turkey breast on the vegetables and they will be drier, so toss a bit of butter in there.
- Half and half it, knowing all the above information and arrange the pieces as you see fit for drippings usage. The drippings are liquid flavour GOLD!
Make sure that when you remove the back and tail, you put them – and any fat that you trim off! – into a separate pan for roasting and making drippings for gravy. It works out perfectly!
Now because it was only the kids and I, I used one turkey stuffing recipe but for a real holiday turkey you should double it or triple it. I used my recipe for Homemade Stove Top Stuffing .I honestly want to eat only that stuffing when I make it with the turkey thighs on top. People will be fighting over it!!
You can also try my recipe for Apple Sausage Crockpot Stuffing Just double it and it will cook up perfectly!
The vegetables are up to you, just chop them large and in charge. Red potatoes hold together the best – and skin on is delicious.
Happy turkey roasting you guys! Let me know if you try this!
Pin this recipe to your Holiday Meals or Dinner Ideas Boards!
- 1 14-16 lb turkey
- your favourite stuffing recipe doubled or tripled
- 12-14 cups of red potatoes carrots, sweet potatoes, onions, all large chopped
- 1/2 cup melted butter
- 1 tbsp poultry seasoning
- 2-3 batches of my Homemade Stove Top Stuffing
- one large 18-20 inch square roaster
Using kitchen shears, remove the back of the turkey in one strip, leaving the breast and wings attached. If you want drippings for gravy, place these pieces in a pan and roast separately - the tail especially! Remove any large fat pieces and add to this pan as well.
Remove each thigh carefully,with the leg attached, trying not to tear the turkey skin.
Pre-heat your oven to 350 °F.
Combine the poultry seasoning with the melted butter.
Grease the roaster with butter.
Place a thick layer of vegetables on one side, followed by a thick layer of stuffing on the other. If you are not placing the turkey thighs on the vegetables, drizzle some of the seasoned butter over the top and mix in to coat them.
Arrange the turkey on top of the stuffing and vegetables.Baste with the butter mixture thoroughly.
Roast in the oven ( I do uncovered for that crispy golden skin) for 2- 21/2 hours, until the breast meat reaches 165 °F and the thighs are at least 180 °F. ( the thighs will almost always be ready when the breast is)
Remove, let rest for 5-10 minutes and serve! You can prepare the drippings from the tail and back pieces into your favourite gravy.
You can vary the amounts of vegetables and stuffing, just remember that a thin layer will cook faster than the turkey, so you can't roast a large turkey with thin layers, they have to match up!
Nutrition facts below are based on commercial stuffing mixes and only roasted red potatoes for the vegetables. Actual calories and info will vary according to what you use personally.