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Herb-Crusted Turkey With Apple-Cranberry And Veal Stuffing

Thanksgiving Turkey

Still on the hunt for an impressive turkey recipe to showcase your Thanksgiving centerpiece? Here it is! Apples, cinnamon, and cranberries add a harvest-season sweetness to fragrant herbs like rosemary, sage, and cloves, and brining the turkey beforehand ensure that you’ll have tender and juicy meat all the way through. It does take some planning ahead to get the brine going (you’ll want to get it started today!), but the results are completely worth it.

If you haven’t defrosted your bird yet, or simply won’t be able to make the brine work for one reason or another, you can still skip this step – just take some extra precaution about cooking. You’ll definitely want a meat thermometer in this case, to make sure you aren’t overcooking the breasts, and you might consider cooking the legs and the breast separately.

Some more cooking tips: for the crispiest skin, cook the turkey uncovered. If you see the skin getting a little too dark or looking like it’s burnt, then you can cover the pan either with a lid or with a quick “tent” of aluminum foil. In terms of cooking time, at 350 degrees, it usually takes 15-17 minutes per pound of turkey. But this is really a rough estimate; a much more precise technique is to buy a meat thermometer and check the temperature regularly. You want the legs at about 165 degrees, and the breast a little lower (about 150 degrees for the most tender meat). You can buy a thermometer for very cheap (usually around $5 for a basic one) at any grocery store, and it’s the best way to make sure you aren’t about to serve any leathery breasts or undercooked thighs.

If you’re not confident in your ability to cook the whole turkey, or if you just don’t want to take the risk, another option is to use the exact same brining and rub from this recipe, but simply spatchcock the turkey and cook the stuffing separately. You won’t get that impressive display of the whole bird on the table, but it’s also a lot more foolproof for beginning cooks.

Another important ingredient for any roast turkey is, of course, the stuffing. If your turkey comes with giblets (usually in a plastic pouch stuffed inside the turkey when you buy it), just add these right into the stuffing for extra flavor. Also, as you’re preparing the recipe, keep the vegetables from the brine somewhere out of the way, and save the bones from the turkey when you serve it. This will give you all the ingredients to cook up a big batch of turkey stock for later.

This is a fairly complicated recipe, so to help you plan your oven space and time commitments, here’s a very rough timeline of what to do and when. Assuming you want to start Thanksgiving dinner at 7:00pm on Thursday (if you’re planning for earlier or later, just adjust the times accordingly), here’s what to do:

  • Monday, 11/25 (that’s today!): put the turkey in the brine (details below).
  • Wednesday night, 11/27: take the turkey out of the brine, rub it with the herb crust, and refrigerate overnight (details below).
  • (optional) Thursday morning, 11/28: mix up the stuffing and stick it in the fridge (this is not required but it saves you time later in the afternoon).
  • Thursday, 2:00-3:00pm: Preheat the oven, put the stuffing into the turkey, and put the turkey in the oven, as described below. For a bigger bird, start earlier; for a smaller bird, start later.
  • Thursday, 6:15-6:30pm (or whenever the turkey is done): remove the turkey from the oven and let it rest 30-40 minutes on a cutting board before you carve it.
  • Thursday, approximately 7:00pm: dinner time! Enjoy the compliments on your delicious meal.

Herb-Crusted Turkey With Apple-cranberry And Veal Stuffing Recipe

Preparation time PREP: 1h + 2-3 days.Cooking time COOK: 4 hrs.


Protein: 107g / %

Carbs: 40g / %

Fat: 64g / %

Values are per portion. These are for information only & are not meant to be exact calculations.


  1. 1 turkey of about 12 lbs;
  2. 2 apples, cut in chunks;
  3. 1 large onion, diced;
  4. 2 large carrots, diced;
  5. 3 ribs celery, diced;
  6. 1 head garlic, cut in half horizontally;
  7. 1/2 bunch fresh rosemary;
  8. 1/2 bunch fresh sage;
  9. 6 bay leaves;
  10. Sea salt;

Ingredients for the apple, cranberry and veal stuffing

  1. 1 lb. ground veal;
  2. Turkey giblets; (optional)
  3. 1 cup almond flour;
  4. 1 small onion, diced;
  5. 3 apples, peeled, seeded and chopped;
  6. 1 cup of cranberries; (fresh or dry)
  7. 2 garlic cloves, minced;
  8. 1/3 cup blanched almonds, toasted and coarsely chopped;
  9. 1 egg;
  10. 1 tsp. ground cinnamon;
  11. ¼ tsp. ground cloves;
  12. ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg;
  13. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper;

Veal Stuffing

Ingredients for the herb crust

  1. 1 bunch fresh rosemary, finely chopped;
  2. 1 bunch fresh sage, finely chopped;
  3. 1 cup of ghee or duck fat;
  4. Sea salt;

Thanksgiving Turkey Preparaion

Ingredients for the turkey and the gravy

  1. 1 large onion, diced;
  2. 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  3. 2 celery ribs, diced;
  4. 4 garlic cloves, smashed;
  5. 2 apples, diced;
  6. 5 bay leaves
  7. 1 cinnamon stick;
  8. 1 bunch thyme;
  9. 5 cups chicken stock, divided;
  10. 2 tbsp. tapioca starch;
  11. Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper;
Gravy Preparation preparation

The Preparation

  1. In a big container place all the ingredients for the brine. Add the turkey, fill with water to the top, and season with salt.
  2. Brine in the refrigerator 2 to 3 days.
  3. Remove turkey from the brine the night before the cooking and pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Combine the ingredients for the herb crust in a small bowl and season to taste with salt. Work the mixture under the skin of the turkey and massage it into the breasts and the legs. Massage the herbs and ghee on the outside of the skin as well.
  5. Place the herb-crusted in the refrigerator uncovered overnight.

The Cooking

  1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
  2. Place all the ingredients for the stuffing in a bowl, mix well, and season to taste.
  3. Stuff the turkey with the apple-veal stuffing and tie the legs together.
  4. Cover the bottom of a roasting pan big enough to hold the turkey with the onion, celery, carrots, garlic, apples, bay leaves, cinnamon stick, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Place the turkey on top of the vegetables and add 3 cups of chicken stock.
  6. Place the turkey in the oven uncovered and cook 40 minutes or until the skin gets a nice brown color.
  7. Lower the heat to 350 F. for the remaining cooking time.
  8. Baste the turkey every 30 minutes and add chicken stock to the pan if needed; if the skin gets too dark, cover the roasting pan with the lid or some aluminum foil.
  9. Remove turkey from the oven when cooking is done and set it to rest on a cutting board.
  10. Remove stuffing from inside the turkey and place in a serving bowl.
  11. Using a colander, remove the vegetables from the broth mixture in the bottom of the pan, but keep the broth.
  12. Empty the broth into a saucepan over a low heat.
  13. Mix the tapioca starch in a small bowl with ¼ cup of chicken stock until smooth and slowly add to the saucepan while whisking.
  14. Cook the sauce until you get a gravy consistency; if the sauce is not thick enough, repeat step 13, adding 1 tbsp. of tapioca starch at a time.
  15. Place the sauce in a serving pitcher.
  16. Serve the turkey, the stuffing and the gravy.

Thanksgiving Turkey

Photo of Ashley Noël

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