Cooked turkey debacle
November 24, 2011 6:53 AM   Subscribe

What do I do with the stuffing and gravy if the turkey is already cooked?

While doing last minute Thanksgiving shopping yesterday, I grabbed the only turkey they had left in the store. Unfortunately, I failed to notice that it was pre-cooked! Is there a good way to cook stuffing and gravy with a pre-cooked turkey? Should we just go grab a chicken instead?
posted by _cave to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I personally never cook stuffing in the turkey, it's too hard to get it right, there's risk of undercooking the turkey or the stuffing, and it gets all mushy and soggy. Here's a good example of one recipe that does not require stuffing the turkey. I've made it a couple of times, it's yum. I've also done a stuffing in a crockpot which was great as it freed up the stove and oven.

The main reason that I like a fresh turkey is because of the gizzards and the neck that makes excellent stock for those sides. So if you can get those parts separate you're, well, gravy.
posted by like_neon at 7:09 AM on November 24, 2011

if you do go to the store, just get a couple things of turkey stock and neck/gizzards to boil in it and you should be able to make both stuffing and gravy taste like you spent all that time on the turkey. braise the neck before putting it in the stock, though! maybe even sautee the gizzard for best flavour.
posted by batmonkey at 7:23 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

We don't stuff turkeys in my family but make a huge pan of dressing. Buy turkey necks or a leg and make your broth/stock. If you can't find turkey parts, use chicken thighs to make stock and if all else fails use packaged chicken broth.

This recipe would work but I would add celery. This is a good one too.
posted by shoesietart at 7:24 AM on November 24, 2011

In my experience, the best stuffing/dressing is made separately anyway. I've also been told by a friend who is a pro chef that this is the way to do it, and if you do a google search you'll find articles that advise this as well. Happy Thanksgiving!
posted by seriousmoonlight at 7:28 AM on November 24, 2011

Yeah, stuffing the bird isn't really the best thing to do. By the time the stuffing cooks enough to kill any turkey germs it gets while in the bird, the meat is way too dry.

Cook it separately and call it dressing!
posted by cooker girl at 7:47 AM on November 24, 2011

Nthing that it's almost never a good idea to cook stuffing inside the bird.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:50 AM on November 24, 2011

Stovetop stuffing and gravy made from a package will work fine. They won't have the same rich flavour, but they'll definitely do in a pinch. Batmonkey's solution for the gravy would also be a good bet (you can even combine it with packaged gravy if you find that you're not getting enough flavour/liquid by just boiling the neck and gizzards).
posted by asnider at 8:00 AM on November 24, 2011

My favorite was to make stuffing is outside of a bird. Put the stuffing into muffin tins, and have individual serving crispy little stuffing muffins!
posted by piratebowling at 8:27 AM on November 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

I highly recommend this separate from the turkey stuffing recipe-- you can swap in different breads, other kinds of sausage, leave out the sweet potato etc and it is still fantastic. Also you could try this mushroom thyme gravy maybe using chicken stock?
posted by tangaroo at 8:29 AM on November 24, 2011

I will respectfully disagree with all above who claim stuffing outside the bird is better or in any way preferable to real stuffing, cooked in the cavity of a dead bird, as God intended.

However, I often cook some extra stuffing on the side when I need more than the bird itself will hold, and it is okay if you use stock to flavour it. (I usually mix it with the stuffing from the bird as well though).
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:49 AM on November 24, 2011

I never liked stuffing or dressing of any sort, but I will eat this dressing day and night given the opportunity:

Mix Stove Top stuffing, cooked wild and/or brown rice, cooked onions and celery (I actually prefer to use celery salt), maybe a touch of garlic salt, your cooked turkey bits and turkey juice (could use stock from the store here), and bake for a bit.

Everybody LOVES this.
posted by moira at 9:00 AM on November 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I bake my stuffing in a pan, placing chicken wings on top, it really does impart great flavor to the dressing. I don't like to stuff the bird, prolongs cooking time, I like to stuff cavity with herbs, onions, carrots, things that will steam but allow air circulation inside the bird.
posted by Jazz Hands at 9:25 AM on November 24, 2011

My great grandmother, when cooking large amounts of food to feed a small army of people would cook the stuffing in a large roasting pan, similar to the one you put a turkey in anyways. Her secret was to mix in a pound of ground beef (raw) into the stuffing mix before you bake it. It adds the richness (MSG) that you get from roasting it inside the turkey, but without having to worry about stuffing the turkey or running out of stuffing either because you can make a huge batch.

(As an aside I guess my upbringing is a bit odd because I don't consider a dinner for 40 people to be that out of the ordinary and have personally cooked on a bbq for 250. First the OWS potato and now this question. I should write a book on how to cook a nice meal for 50 people.)
posted by koolkat at 9:30 AM on November 24, 2011

Here's a good all-purpose gravy recipe you can use. It obviously won't have turkey drippings, but should suffice.
posted by briank at 9:45 AM on November 24, 2011

We bake the stuffing in a 9 x 13 glass dish moistened with broth. We make the gravy out of a flour and fat roux (then add broth) where the fat is usually turkey drippings, but if you don't have turkey drippings you can use butter.

If I'm starting with an uncooked turkey, I make the broth out of the neck and giblets---which is what I need to start pretty quick---but if you don't have those, decent quality chicken is fine too.
posted by leahwrenn at 10:23 AM on November 24, 2011

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