Mark Bittman’s Minimalist Thanksgiving Tips

Email a Friend


Minimalist Turkey (Fastest Bread Stuffing)
Time: 2 hours and 30 minutes
Makes: At least servings (with leftovers)
Wine: Serve with a fruity wine, like Reisling, Chenin Blanc or Gewurztraminer, or a light red like Beaujolais
12-pound turkey
1 recipe Bread Stuffing (below)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse the turkey and remove the giblets; save the liver to make the stuffing. Loosely pack the turkey cavity with the stuffing, then tie the legs together to enclose the vent.
Place the turkey on a rack in a large roasting pan. Add ½ cup water to the bottom of the pan along with the turkey neck, gizzard, and any other trimmings. Place in the oven, legs first.
Roast 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top begins to brown, then turn the heat down to 350 degrees. Continue to roast, checking every 30 minutes or so; if the top threatens to brown too much, lay a piece of aluminum foil directly into it. If the bottom dries out, add water, about ½ cup at a time. The turkey is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh measures 165 degrees. If, when the turkey is nearly done, the top is not browned enough, turn the heat back up to 425 degrees for the last 20 to 30 minutes of cooking.
Remove the turkey from the oven. Take the bird off the rack and make Sherry Reduction Sauce while the bird rests (let it sit for about 20 minutes before carving).

Fastest Bread Stuffing
6 tablespoons butter
3 chicken livers, about ¼ pound, or an equivalent amount of turkey l liver
1 cup chopped parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices good day-or two-day-old white bread, crusts trimmed

Chop together (by hand or in small food processor) the butter, livers, and parsley; season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread half of the mixture on 4 of the bread slices; use the remaining bread to make 4 sandwiches. Spread the remaining mixture on the outside of the sandwiches. Cut each of the sandwiches into 6 pieces.
Stuff the turkey as described above.

Keys to Success:

The turkey gets a high heat boost at the beginning so the bird gets a fast start. This ensures browning and keeps roasting time well under three hours. It works.

Chef Mark Bittman shares his minimalist cooking tips in his book The Minimalist Cooks at Home: Recipes That Give You More Flavor from Fewer Ingredients in Less Time. Read an excerpt of Bittman's book in the Reading Room