One week before: Bake a 9 x 13 pan of corn bread. Cool. Break into chunks and put in very large Tupperware container or large roasting pan. Add 1 and 1/2 loaves of bread - spread slices for drying moving around daily, and breaking up as the slices dry out. Use good bread ~ the cheap stuff is NOT as good! Keep covered with a clean dish towel, do NOT seal with lid.
PREPARATION AND COOKING: Clean a a thawed turkey (thaw in the refrigerator about 3-4 days for a 20 pound turkey). Place the turkey breast DOWN in a large roasting pan (enamel is great). Add the neck and giblets. Slice about 2 sticks of butter and place these all over the turkey. Open one can chicken broth and pour in the bottom of the pan.
If the roaster lid fits, use it to cover the turkey. If it doesn’t, make a cover with heavy foil by tearing off two pieces of foil about 12 inches longer than the pan and make a ’sealed’ fold along the lengthwise edges.
Put over the turkey like a tent - that is, leave some space in the center rather than having the foil touch the turkey. Pinch the edges of the foil tightly around all edges to seal juices in as turkey bakes.
Bake in a 325 degree oven until about 1 hour BEFORE the turkey is completely done! You’ll have to check a 20 lb turkey in about 2 1/2 hours or 3 hours. If your turkey is TOO done, it will not be as good. Ideally, the meat should not be falling away from the bones.
Set a timer for 2 1/2 hours… and about 1 hour before you think the turkey is ready for adding the stuffing, begin preparing it. Do NOT prepare too far ahead of time.
Dice the onions and celery hearts/leaves (if you don’t have hearts, use lots of leaves - this is one of the ’secrets’ of my stuffing). Together, the onions and celery should equal at least 6 cups, more or less.
Remove the turkey carefully. Move the turkey to another container (I use the roaster lid or an aluminum baking pan). Pour the broth through a strainer into the sauce pan you’ll be using to make the gravy. Retain the rest for the stuffing. If more liquid is needed, use cans of chicken broth and/or 1 stick of butter to 1 cup of water. Into a large container (I use the huge Tupperware bowl), put the dried corn bread, bread, onions and celery. Pour in any left-over broth. This may be hot, so wait for it to cool. Mix with a large wooden spoon. Add enough chicken broth to cool the mixture enough that it can be mixed with your hands. Each hardened piece of corn bread and bread should be smashed with your fingers. When the mixture is cool enough that it won’t cook the eggs, add the eggs. Remember to break the eggs into another container. This will prevent egg shells in your stuffing!!! (Eggs in stuffing: Another secret.) Add salt, lots of pepper, and lots of sage. Mix by hand, adding more broth as needed for a nice thick and moist mixture - not too sloppy. Taste it! This is where YOUR judgment comes into play. The stuffing should have a hint of pepper, and a definite taste of sage.
When the stuffing looks right and tastes right, start putting it in the bottom of the roaster. Put in enough so that you have about 1/2′ of stuffing in the pan. Now place the turkey ON TOP of the stuffing, breast UP. Continue adding the stuffing all around the turkey. If you have enough, you can completely bury the turkey in stuffing! Bury the neck and giblets in the stuffing - push then in and cover them.
(My favorite part of the turkey is the neck - no one in my family DARES to use it in gravy!) If you want giblet gravy (ugh!) hold back the giblets and do your thing with them.
Cover as before, return to the oven for about 2 hours, or until celery and onions are tender. Make gravy by adding a couple of large scoops of stuffing into the retained broth. Make thickening of flour and water (or cornstarch) to thicken your gravy as desired. If you don’t have enough broth, open another can of Chicken broth!
This turkey is NOT ‘pretty as a picture’ but I guarantee it’s the most delicious way in the world to prepare turkey and stuffing (or chicken and stuffing). Clem’s grandmother raised fourteen children and this was the only way to prepare enough ‘dressing’ for the entire family. Of course, she cooked her meals in a wood cook stove. This method of preparation was handed down to Clem’s mother who then taught it to me….Joyce Kohl Taken from: IT NEVER TURNS OUT THE SAME WAY COOKBOOK A Collection of Recipes from the Kitchen of Joyce and Clem Kohl —–