Larry Nemelka’s Turkey Recipe
with German Sausage Stuffing and Potato Water Gravy
Pan: Round, oblong turkey roasting pan with lid (or covered with aluminum foil). Use a V-shaped rack to place the turkey into the pan. This will keep it off the bottom of the pan.
Oven: 325 degrees for 15 minutes per pound for a "stuffed" turkey less than 16 pounds or 12 minutes per pound for a 16+ pound turkey. A 20 pound stuffed turkey requires 4 hours of cooking time. Refer to the label on the turkey wrapper or a cook book for cooking temperature and time for an un-stuffed turkey.
The turkey should be cooked with the breast side up. If you want to be a perfect cook, you should cook it for 1 ˝ hours (or 1 hour for a turkey less than 16 pounds) with the breast side down, and then turn it over with the breast side up for the remainder of the cooking time. If you use a thermometer, the breast meat should reach 170 degrees, the thigh meat should reach 185 degrees, and the stuffing should reach 165 degrees in order to be eaten safely. Additional cooking time for the stuffing (in a separate container after removal from the turkey) may be required if you don't want to over-cook the turkey.
Stuffing: These ingredients are for a 20 pound turkey. You should adjust the Ingredients based on the size of the turkey. For a 20 pound turkey, you need approximately 15 cups of stuffing for the cavity area and the head area (under the skin). You should coat the inside of the cavity and the head area with salt and pepper before adding the stuffing.
German Sausage Stuffing
- 2 loaves of bread (Wonder Bread style "sandwich" or "large" loaves work well), day-old and spread on a table and dried out for 18-24 hours (use a warm oven in a pinch), before being broken by hand into very small pieces. Do not use the bread ends, and do not cut off the crust.
- 24 ounces (two 12 oz packages) of ground pork sausage (ie, Farmer John brand breakfast sausage is Larry’s favorite, but Jimmy Dean regular works fine as well)
- 13 large eggs
- 7 stalks (sticks) of celery, chopped (diced) into small square pieces
- 2 medium size yellow onions, finely diced
- 3 1/2 Tablespoons (large spoon) of Poultry Seasoning (this is the name of the spice)
- 1 3/4 Tablespoons (large spoon) of Ground Sage (this is the name of the spice)
- 1 Tablespoon Salt and 1/2 Tablespoon Pepper
Pre-cook a small portion of the stuffing (in the microwave or stove top), and add Poultry Seasoning, Sage, Salt and/or Pepper to taste.
Turkey Preparation: After stuffing the head area, you should use thick string and a needle (or something similar) to sew the skin closed and keep the stuffing from falling out. You can buy a “kit” from the food market. You should also tie the legs together and the wings together with cooking twine or equivalent. Soften 1 stick (1/2 cup) of sweet (salted) butter and rub (or pour) over the top of the turkey . Then salt and pepper the outside of the turkey if you like to eat the skin. Optionally, use an injection basting device (syringe and needle) to inject melted butter (optionally, mixed with the spices of the choice--a Cajun mix adds some nice "kick") into the breast area to help keep the white meat moist and flavorful.
German Potato Water Gravy: After your potatoes are fully cooked (cut potatoes into 1 ˝ inch squared pieces, cover with water, add salt to water--like cooking pasta--then boil partially covered until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork), combine approximately 4-5 cups (for 8 people) of the water used for boiling the potatoes with the turkey drippings. (Alternately, add 2T of flour into the drippings and cook to brown the flour and thicken the drippings before adding the potato water.) Bring the gravy to a slow boil. Add salt & pepper (and turkey consommé if your drippings are sparse) to taste. Then take a large cup with 1/2 cup of flour and 2 Tablespoons corn starch mixed well with cold water to make a thick, smooth liquid. Remove all the lumps. Slowly add the flour liquid to the gravy while stirring vigorously until thickened. Add small portions at a time until you get the right consistency -- it should seem like a very thick soup or curry sauce. If you like a see-through quality to your gravy add potato starch or corn starch instead of flour. Once thickened, you should simmer the gravy for approximately 15 minutes to allow the starch taste to diminish.
To finish the potatoes, drain out all the water, cover the pan with the potatoes inside and let the potatoes "steam" for 10 minutes, then mash completely and slowly add whole milk while beating until the potatoes achieve a smooth consistency. Be careful not to add too much milk.