Search For Perfect Thanksgiving Bird Ends Here: “Turkey-In-A-Sac” With Bread Stuffing – History & Technique – Thanksgiving Classics Combo – Original Publication @Blog-City In 2005

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Tabacco’s ‘Turkey In A Sac With Bread Stuffing’ Adapted – The History & Overview, Part I



Turkey In A Sac will brown & be juicy (especially white meat). If you BASTE your turkey while cooking, you now know why your turkey is dry as the Sinai and requires gravy as camouflage!


This recipe originally came from “Dining With David Wade”.  It has been adapted and altered by Tabacco.  I have worked on it for the last 35 years.  About 25 years ago I stopped experimenting with the basic recipe.  About 3 years ago I added the finishing touch – brining.  This recipe is now perfect – I guarantee it. 




However, my stuffing is very inconsistent.  That part of the recipe is still in the experimental stage.  So for the present, you will have to supply your own stuffing recipe.




Evolution of a Recipe


their turkey


What is the bacon for? Taste?


Maintain juiciness? Both?




Around 1970 I remember preparing this recipe and having to put it back in the oven because it was undercooked.  I did this several years because I neglected one fact in Wade’s original recipe: my turkey is always stuffed; Wade’s was not.  Therefore my bird would not be properly roasted using Wade’s timing rule.  I added 1/2-hour roasting time and increased oven temperature 25 degrees.  Once I got past that hurdle, the undercooked bird has never again been a problem.




I lost my original copy of “Dining With David Wade” and did it from memory.  My memory wasn’t always perfect, even then.  I forgot to set the spices in warm water for 15 minutes.  I began setting them in the peanut oil instead.  Around 1990, I found another copy of the book in a Broadway bookstore in New York City.  When I realized my oversight, I used the water just as Wade’s recipe directed.  The taste was not as good.  Don’t ask me why.  So I went back to my “improvement” which was the result of a faulty memory, not a stroke of genius.




Once I discovered brining, my turkey went from spectacular to sublime.  Two years ago, after preparing the turkey, I prepared to cut a slice for myself, in the privacy of the kitchen with the electric knife, just to make sure it was OK.  The knife made the turkey meat quiver like Jell-O.  I forgot about sampling, and announced to my guests, “Dinner is served”. 




Most cooks baste their turkey to death.  This opening and closing of the oven door increases the cooking time and dries out the bird; but it does insure a crisp, brown skin.  That’s why most white meat is served swimming in gravy.  If it weren’t camouflaged that way, you would be dining on compacted sawdust.  I haven’t made turkey gravy in 25 years except for the obligatory turkey hash after the 3rd day.




If you do nothing else in the kitchen, brine your poultry!  I mean henceforth and forever more, whether you roast a turkey or chicken, whether you fry, smoke or whatever.  Brine!




The Basics




In cooking, brining is a process similar to marination in which meat is soaked in a salt solution (the brine) before cooking.



Brining makes cooked meat moister by hydrating the cells of its muscle tissue before cooking, via the process of osmosis, and by allowing the cells to hold on to the water while they are cooked, via the process of denaturation. The brine surrounding the cells has a higher concentration of salt than the fluid within the cells, but the cell fluid has a higher concentration of other solutes. This leads salt ions to enter the cell via diffusion. The increased salinity of the cell fluid causes the cell to absorb water from the brine via osmosis. The salt introduced into the cell also denatures its proteins. The proteins coagulate, forming a matrix, which traps water molecules and holds them during cooking. This prevents the meat from drying out, or dehydrating.  {Did you get all that?}




In many foods the additional salt is also desirable as a preservative. Note that kosher meats are salted during the process of koshering so they should not be brined.

Turkey In A Sac With Bread Stuffing – The Recipe, Part II




Turkey: 14-16 pounds (if larger, increase brine and marinade; cooking time based on weight of bird)



1- Turkey Brine:


alton_brownGood Eats


Recipe courtesy Alton Brown


Show: Good Eats  Episode: Romancing the Bird (A Good Eats Thanksgiving)


1 cup kosher salt


1/2 cup light brown sugar


1 gallon vegetable broth (not salt-free type) – Tabacco prefers College Inn Chicken broth


1 tablespoon black peppercorns


1/2 tablespoon allspice berries


1/2 tablespoon candied ginger




1 gallon iced water



2- Turkey Spices & Peanut Oil


1-1/4 cups peanut oil (ABSOLUTELY NO SUBSTITUTIONS)


3 Tablespoons paprika


salt & pepper to taste




poultry seasoning (optional)


NOTE: David Wade warned against using the Peanut Oil with chicken, but didn’t say why not. But being stubborn and pigheaded, I tried it anyway – it was awful. But if you’re stubborn and pigheaded, be my guest! And no, I still don’t know why it doesn’t work with chicken. I bake chicken wings all the time using Peanut Oil. Maybe you know why?



3- Accessories


bread stuffing (your recipe)


2 large paper shopping bags (double bagged)

Brown Paper Bag


This is what a brown paper bag looks like – you will require 2 (double-bag them) because they don’t make brown paper bags like they used to – or anything else for that matter!




Twine or Rope

And this is twine or rope – DO NOT USE STRING! You need heavy-duty stuff here – it will be in the oven for a few hours, but heavy saturation with peanut oil will permit it to blacken, but not burn – TRUST TABACCO!        

thick twine or rope, not string


large roasting pan with wire rack insert


large, preferably serrated bread knife





Procedure Complete



1- Brining the Turkey:                                                                                                                                                                 


Combine all brine ingredients, except ice water, in a stockpot, and bring to a boil. Stir to dissolve solids, then remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.




Early on the day of cooking, (or late the night before) combine the brine and ice water in a clean 5-gallon bucket. Place thawed turkey breast side down in brine, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area (like a basement) for 6-8 hours. Turn turkey over once, half way through brining. (Weight down turkey if necessary!)




After 6-8 hours, remove bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard brine.






2- Turkey Spices & Peanut Oil Preparation:




Place peanut oil and spices in measuring cup to stand 15 minutes.


(I haven’t tried this yet, but I will this year: heat oil and spices, to 200º Fahrenheit only, to release oil-soluble spice flavors into the peanut oil) Source: America’s Test Kitchen on TV) – PS I have never tried it out, but if you do, let me know how it works!




Double bag the shopping bags and pour off most of peanut oil into bags. Note that spices settle to bottom of measuring cup.  Set aside remaining peanut oil and spices for rubbing turkey.




Swirl oil around inside of bags and, with hands, spread peanut oil over every inch of the doubled bags, inside and out.  (This is the messy part; let the kids do it – they love making a mess.)






3- Turkey Preparation & Roasting:




Wash turkey thoroughly and pat dry after removing giblets & neck for your stuffing.




With hands, place small amount of remaining oil and spices in turkey cavities.




Stuff the turkey.




Spread remaining oil and spices all over turkey; the paprika gives bird a pleasing red color, which translates to a crisp, brown crust when done.




Secure legs and neck skin after stuffing with skewers etc.




Place stuffed turkey inside oiled double bags.




Place long piece of twine in measuring cup and add more peanut oil to saturate for a couple of minutes to prevent burning during the roasting process.




Close bag(s) opening by twisting, and tie with oiled twine to seal opening tight.




Place bagged turkey on the rack inside roasting pan and cook @350º Fahrenheit according to the following formula:





10 minutes per lb of turkey + 30 minutes for the stuffing.





     A stuffed 15 lb turkey then cooks


    150 minutes + 30 minutes = 3 hours (that’s right, 3 hours, this is not a typo!)




Have FAITH in Tabacco! I guarantee that your turkey will be superb, juicy inside and crispy outside with the formula above in the red box.










After roasting time complete, use that serrated knife to cut the bags.  Be careful, there is a lot of steam inside, just like a pressure cooker.  Be careful removing bag pieces from wings and drumsticks – they will fall off if you’re careless.  Discard bag pieces.  Remove turkey to serving platter.  Tilt roaster pan to pour liquids into a gravy separator.  Pour off the extra oil and save the juices.  I never make gravy anymore; just serve the juices in a gravy boat.




Presentation for family Thanksgiving to make an impression:


Open a large can of pear halves.  Place a few drops of green food coloring into the pear liquid and shake the can gently to even the pale green color.  Place pear halves around the turkey, cut side up.  Insert a maraschino cherry in each pear half. – The awe factor.




T.A.B.A.C.C.O.  (Truth About Business And Congressional Crimes Organization)



In 1981’s ‘Body Heat’, Kathleen Turner said, “Knowledge is power”.


Tabacco Wise Old Owl


T.A.B.A.C.C.O.  (Truth About Business And Congressional Crimes Organization)



Originally published for Thanksgiving 2005 on October 10, 2005…Annual Thanksgiving Classics Recipe No. 142 “Search For” H:644 on 111509.. Repub Nov. 10, 2006 H:351 on 111509.. Repub Nov 2, 2007 H:400 on 111509.. (Total H:1,395 on 11/15/09)… (3) publications: On Nov. 21, 2010 – 101005 742H, 111006 460H, 110207 471H – Total 1,673H 112110




Originally published for Thanksgiving 2005 on October 11, 2005…Annual Thanksgiving Classics Recipe No. 143 “Perfect Bird” H:948 +C:1.. Repub Nov 10, 2006 H:551.. Repub Nov 2, 2007 H:1,307.. (Total H:2,806 + C:1 on 11/15/09).. (3) publications: On Nov. 21, 2010 – 101105 1,050H+1C, 111906 694H, 110207 1,524H: Total 3,268H 112110




Combo Annual Thanksgiving Classics Recipe No 142-143 Nov 2, 2008 H:523 on 111509.. Reissued November 15, 2009 Nov. 21, 2010 (Subtotal: 1,167H).. 




(Total H:4,724+1C 11/15/09)..Grand Total: Nov. 21,2010 – 6,108H + 1C




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2 thoughts on “Search For Perfect Thanksgiving Bird Ends Here: “Turkey-In-A-Sac” With Bread Stuffing – History & Technique – Thanksgiving Classics Combo – Original Publication @Blog-City In 2005

  1. Tabacco’s Comment on my own Blog-City Blog in 2010

    ‘Tabacco’ left this comment on 22 Nov 10
    Turkey Cooks:

    Would you open an umbrella outside on a rainy day to wash your hair? Of course not! And you wouldn’t sport a shower cap in the shower either, would you!

    Then why would you baste a turkey (particularly after the skin gets crusty brown) to keep the white meat moist? That basting liquid will never penetrate the skin! All you get is a crisp skin, longer cooking time and a DRY TURKEY!

    If you baste your turkey to ensure a crisp skin, keep doing it!

    If you baste your turkey to keep the white meat moist, then open an umbrella outside on a rainy day to wash your hair!

    Everybody used to think the Earth was flat and you could cure ulcers by drinking milk. Some of you still think the Earth is flat and basting yields a moist turkey. Mind you, some very well-known TV chefs promote turkey basting for moist white meat. When it fails, you blame yourself for “not basting enough”! This year USE YOUR BRAIN!

    Chefs, who recommend basting, also give you the technique for making gravy. I don’t! I like gravy! But I trust my turkey roasting technique so I don’t supply a “gravy technique”! You don’t need it with “Turkey In A Sac”. Dry white meat needs gravy to cover that failure!

    Would you eat sawdust, smothered in gravy? If you baste your bird, that’s practically the same thing! Now, you know why so many people do NOT like turkey – particularly white meat! And NO, they don’t like sawdust smothered in gravy either!


  2. Peanut Allergists!

    Sorry, but if there are peanut allergies in your household, peanut oil is a NO-NO! And it is essential for this technique – I had dinner at someone’s home, who used the same technique with butter, not peanut oil. It was awful!

    I have never done so myself, but an alternative might be those brown and serve plastic bags you can buy. That should modify the dryness problem, but I would not think you will get a crisp skin using those bags.

    Happy Thanksgiving,


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