Small Thanksgiving meal thought: Am I missing something?
November 18, 2013 1:10 PM   Subscribe

I think I figured out a way to simplify my family's Thanksgiving meal. What didn't I think of?

I thought of cooking a half turkey breast and one leg with thigh on a bed of stuffing. My plan is simple. Brine a half turkey breast. Whip up some simple stuffing stuffing (cornbread, mirepoix, chicken broth, an egg, some herbs) in a roasting pan, throw it in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes. Then put the leg/thigh on top, wait another 15 minutes. Put the breast on top until it's 155 degrees inside, then crank the oven to 450 to crisp the skin, about 10 minutes. Put the meat on a plate to rest and stir the stuffing to distribute the drippings.

Slice and serve!

What am I missing/not thinking of?
posted by Marky to Food & Drink (20 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
That leaves you with no gravy, which for me, is the True Meaning of Thanksgiving.
posted by xingcat at 1:12 PM on November 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

Okay, that was snarky. What I mean is - are you asking for more ideas for side dishes to round it out, or are you asking if that sounds like enough turkey to cover everyone?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:12 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by aryma at 1:13 PM on November 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

There's nothing wrong with this approach to the turkey/stuffing. I was just listening to America's Test Kitchen's radio show and this is precisely their suggestion for one way to make the turkey. They have you break down the whole turkey (or butterfly it) and put it over stuffing, but nothing wrong with only doing part of the turkey.
posted by Betelgeuse at 1:15 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

How long are you expecting the leg and breast to be cooking? I'd worry about the stuffing burning. Doing a half-breast and leg will be faster than a whole bird, but I'd still make preparations to finish cooking the breast in another pan. (This recipe is similar to what you're proposing and separates the breast and stuffing about halfway through, although it's using a whole breast, so it may not be as necessary.)
posted by kagredon at 1:16 PM on November 18, 2013

When you put the turkey on a plate to rest, do not put it on a cold plate. Have a plate warmer and put the meat on a warm plate.

Cold plate does the meat no favors.
posted by bilabial at 1:17 PM on November 18, 2013

I don't understand what you are asking. Do you want ideas for what to serve besides turkey and stuffing? Or, is getting rid of the usual side dishes like potatoes and green bean casserole how you are "simplifying"? Or, did you want to know if we think your rather detailed turkey recipe is good?

I think we need you to explain what information you want. We don't even know how many people you wish to feed.
posted by Tanizaki at 1:17 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Don't forget to temp the stuffing, if it's got turkey juice in it.
posted by ftm at 1:23 PM on November 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

I'm spatchcocking a turkey this year.

I make my stuffing like a bread pudding, with an egg and broth mixture. Works great, really easy and tasty, tasty.

I use the neck, back and giblets from the turkey to make the gravy base, then add drippings in at the end for rich flavor.

Easy mashed potatoes are Ore-Ida Steam and Mash.

Green Giant French Cut Green Beans and Almonds.

Homemade cranberry sauce (it's the recipe on the bag, with OJ instead of water.)

If you don't like turkey, do a chicken.

Buy a pumpkin pie.

Is this close to answering your questions?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 1:25 PM on November 18, 2013

I wouldn't cook the turkey on top of the stuffing (or stuffing inside of a turkey, for that matter) for food safety reasons. The stuffing you have planned sounds fine to serve on the side with gravy. (Yes you do need gravy!) Separating the breast and thigh for cooking is a very good idea in all circumstances.
posted by BibiRose at 1:35 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Cook the stuffing separately or you run the risk of it either drying up or not completely cooking the turkey juices. One is bad, the other is worse.

How many people do you need to feed? I would just cook the turkey breasts/thighs instead of the whole bird and proceed with the sides as usual. You're not just serving stuffing, right? Because Thanksgiving without at least mashed potatoes and gravy is a crime.
posted by lydhre at 1:38 PM on November 18, 2013

Okay, we're all a bit confused about what the question is, but last year I had a Thanksgiving with very few meat eaters, so I only did a turkey breast (via an Ina Garten recipe). It was great.
posted by BlahLaLa at 1:51 PM on November 18, 2013

I think the stuffing would get too greasy from all the turkey drippings that would otherwise become greasy gravy.
posted by mareli at 1:58 PM on November 18, 2013

Sorry if I was unclear. I making a small meal for four. I usually roast a whole turkey breast, but that's been too much in the past and my nephew mentioned he would like some dark meat this year.

I only thought of this method to save some space in the oven. My major concern was greasy or undercooked stuffing.

And will will have other sides. Cranberries, smashed potatoes, stuffed sweet potatoes, gravy, rolls and pie.
posted by Marky at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2013

Do you have a crockpot? You could try this recipe for the turkey.
posted by mareli at 2:23 PM on November 18, 2013

You might get greasy stuffing if all the drippings are going into it...that sounds like a lot of dark-meat fat to just mix into stuffing.
posted by xingcat at 2:32 PM on November 18, 2013

If you ask, the meat department at your supermarket will probably saw a turkey in half the long way for you. I've known a bunch of people who've done it that way.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 4:12 PM on November 18, 2013

I have done this and it turned out well. The stuffing cooks fine because it's not inside the turkey and is able to get to get fully cooked.
posted by theora55 at 10:16 PM on November 18, 2013

Beth at Budget Bytes has a recipe up for exactly this - the turkey cooked on top of the stuffing. It looks SUPER TASTY and I've had good success with many of her previous recipes.
posted by augustimagination at 11:47 PM on November 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

A recipe I love from James Beard, when he belatedly got into low-fat cooking, is roasted turkey breast slices with crumbled feta and chopped parsley. The salty/melty cheese and fresh green flavors are perfect with the mild turkey.

I dunno if this combination is in the Flavor Bible, but it should be, because the combination is more than the sum of its parts.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 5:32 PM on November 19, 2013

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