Published November 1, 1997.
Stuffing the turkey can lead to overcooked white meat and potential safety problems. The solution? Preheat the stuffing, brine the bird, and use dual oven temperatures.
There is something undeniably festive about a stuffed roasted turkey, and for many people the holidays just aren't the holidays without one. Every year, though, we are warned that for health and safety reasons, turkeys are best roasted unstuffed. Despite these warnings, many cooks continue to stuff their holiday bird. For the sake of flavorful, moist, turkey-infused stuffing, these cooks sacrifice perfectly cooked breast meat and risk food-borne illness from underdone stuffing.
We wanted to find a way to safely and successfully roast a stuffed turkey, making sure that the breast meat would be succulent and the stuffing fully cooked. Before we began, we decided to limit our turkey to a maximum of 15 pounds, because it is just too difficult to safely stuff and roast a larger bird.
Heat the stuffing in the microwave before placing it in the bird to give it a head start on cooking. Brine the bird to add flavor and moisture (brining will not, as we feared, make the stuffing soggy or overly salty). For even more insurance that the easily dried out breast meat will stay moist, roast the turkey breast-side down for the first three hours to protect it from the direct heat of the oven, then flip and finish breast-side up until done (and browned).list of recipes