Saturday, May 9, 2009


Marty and I are in a group that tests recipes for Cooks Illustrated. Sometimes they are fabulous, sometimes not. Most often we are testing to see if the recipe works not just for taste: temperatures, pan size, ease of directions, utensils required etc. Usually the recipe reads fine and other things are iffy.

Yesterday we tested Old Fashioned Stuffed Turkey. We had one page for prepping and cooking the turkey, and two pages of dressing recipes. We picked a plain dressing (not fond of fruits and nuts in my dressing). These were the worst written recipes I have ever seen.

For the non cooks, and I know you are out there, a recipe should list the ingredients, then give the steps in the order you take to produce the dish. It will tell how many it serves, and the temperature settings. A really good recipe lists prep time/active time and then cooking and if needed, resting time.

No where on the turkey recipe does it tell the oven temperature. In step 3 it does tell you to turn up the temperature to 450. From what? Well, we knew, we are cooks. I finally found a oven setting for the turkey in the middle of the dressing recipes. That is just one thing so wrong with these recipes. Another problem was the dressing in cheese cloth inside the turkey. It was to cook 2 1/2 hours and then added to other things. Then it is placed in a cassorole dish to cook more in the oven. It should have been very moist when taken out. It was almost dry and icky bloody.

The turkey had kosher salt rubbed under the skin. Non cooks, that is to hold in moisture. Well it worked so well, there were no drippings from the turkey. That is why the stuffing was dry. Also, nothing to make gravy with. Luckily we make our own stock/broth and had some to make gravy.

The turkey was moist, but a little salty. The dressing smelled like heaven, but very dry. We upped the amount of broth in it. This is not a recipe we will use again. We already have the perfect recipes for turkey and dressing.

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