The amount of stuffing you need varies with the size of the bird, so I will list ingredients only, not the amounts to use. This long recipe may seem time consuming and complicated. Itís not as bad as it seems, and the giblets and rice can be cooked the night before and kept in the refrigerator until the next morning when you mix everything together. I always start the giblets in the morning and let the delicious smells waft through out the house.
Dried Bread White and Whole Wheat Cut into cubes
Fresh Bread cut into cubes.
Wild rice, rinsed.
Celery, diced into small pieces (Use the leaves, they add more flavor)
Giblets and neck from the bird
Cans of chicken broth
Egg slightly beaten
Spices: Poultry seasoning, sage, celery seed, salt, pepper, garlic. Use as much or as little as you like.
Remove the giblets and neck bone from your bird and rinse. Place in a large pan with some of the chicken broth, and spices, and boil for at least 30 to 45 minutes or until cooked through. (Adding the spices to the broth, will help infuse the flavors through out your dressing. Donít worry about not adding enough at this point, you can add more if needed to the dressing while youíre mixing it). Remove giblets and set aside to cool. Add the wild rice to the broth, (you may need to add more broth at this point), and cook until the rice is tender about 30 to 45 minutes more. Make sure you have enough broth so that even after your rice is cooked, you still have plenty of broth left. I use the old stand-by, handful method, to decide how much rice to use. A small handful for a small bird, a large handful for a medium bird and about 1 to 2 handfuls for a large bird. You need to make sure the rice is cooked before you stuff your bird, if not, it will not all be cooked when your bird is done. The rice in the middle of the bird will be ok, but the rice in the rest of your stuffing will be hard and inedible. (Trust me, Iíve made this mistake more then once.)
Toss the bread together. I like using a mixture of both the dried and the fresh bread. This makes a moister dressing, without have it get soggy and wet.
Toss your celery and onions together with some butter (1/2 to one whole cube) and pre-cook in the microwave until the onions are clear and celery is almost completely cooked. Set aside to cool
Once your giblets are cool enough to handle, chop into very small pieces, removing any tough and grisly parts. Remove as much of the meat from the neck bone as you can and chop that up with the giblets.
When your rice is done, remove it from the heat and let it start cooling down. Toss your celery/onion mixture in with your bread cubes. Add your chopped giblets. Donít mix yet. Remove the rice from the broth and toss that in with all the bread/giblet/veggie mixture. Drop one or two beaten eggs on the top and now start gently tossing everything together, added broth as you toss. Save any unused broth to baste your bird while itís cooking, or save for the gravy. Donít mix any more then you have to. You want your dried bread cubes to start sticking together, but not becoming mushy. As you toss, smell your dressing (I know, sounds funny doesnít it!), if you need more seasoning you can add it now. I go by scent to tell if I have enough or not. You can also add a little cream to your dressing, sometimes I do, and sometimes I donít. What you want for a finished product is a moist, slightly sticky dressing that has all the spices, veggies, and giblets incorporated through out the stuffing. Every time you make it, you will refine and improve on what you had before because you will be able to tell from the scent, and the feel, how your finished product will turn out.
Take your turkey and rinse it inside and out. Dry with paper towels, and salt, and pepper the inside.
To stuff the bird, turn it on its breast and stuff the neck cavity, when itís about Ĺ full add a pat or two of butter and finish stuffing. Donít over stuff, the rule of thumb is about ĺís full. Sew or pin the skin to hold the stuffing in place and flip the bird over to stuff the main cavity, adding a pat of butter about every 2 to 3 handfuls. (Yes use your hands, much easier then a spoon) Hook the legs of your bird into the band it comes with or tie them together with string.
You can add butter to your bird if you think it will not be moist enough when finished cooking. You can cut a hole in the skin and slide some butter pats up under the skin to the breast meat, or you can buy an injection kit and inject butter directly into the meat of the breast and thighs. (Thatís all they do for the more expensive ďButter BallĒ birds.) Rub olive oil or butter over the outside of the bird, salt and pepper the skin and roast according to the roasting instructions in this book, or that came with your bird.
When your bird is done cooking, let it set for at least 20 minutes before you start carving. It will make your meat much more tender and juicy if you do.