'Turkey, Please'

Laura Laiben of The Culinary Center of Kansas City shares her turkey and dressing recipes

tuchodi, Creative Commons

   Every Thanksgiving, Laura Laiben, owner and founder of The Culinary Center of Kansas City in downtown Overland Park, prepares the following turkey and dressing recipes.

   “This is a killer turkey and dressing recipe,” she says. “I’ve been using it now for 30 years. I’m happy to share it. It’s a Southwest-style recipe. It has a whole bunch of garlic, and the dressing has apples and sage and cornbread. Phenomenal.”

Roasted Turkey with Browned Garlic Gravy

Ingredients For Turkey

1 (12-lb) turkey, including neck and giblets, which has brined overnight in a salt/sugar solution
 (Brine: 1/4 cup each of salt and sugar to every gallon of water, using enough water to cover the turkey completely)

1 ½ cups chopped onion

3 large carrots, peeled and chopped

12 unpeeled whole garlic cloves

¼ cup olive oil

salt to taste

ground pepper to taste

½ cup chicken broth

½ cup dry white wine


Ingredients for Gravy

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

6 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

degreased juices from the turkey roasting pan

5 cups chicken broth, homemade or canned

ground black pepper to taste



To Prepare The Turkey

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Rinse turkey inside and out and pat dry. Cut off and reserve the first joint of each wing.  Set turkey in roasting pan and scatter the onions, carrots, garlic, neck, giblets and wing tips around the turkey. Rub 1 tablespoon olive oil onto the skin of the turkey breast. Season generously with salt and pepper. Dampen a piece of cheesecloth, double it and drape over the breast. Mix together the remaining olive oil, broth and wine. Roast the turkey for 30 minutes. Baste through the cheesecloth with half of the wine mixture and roast another 30 minutes. Baste again the rest of the wine mixture and roast another 15 minutes. Baste every 15 minutes or so with the pan juices for a total cooking time of about 2 ¾ hours. When an instant-read thermometer registers 170 degrees in the thickest part of the thigh, the turkey is done. Transfer to a cutting board and tent with foil.  Scrape any browned bits from the bottom of the pan and pour the solids and roasting juices through a strainer and into a bowl. Press the solids firmly to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the solids and degrease the pan juices.



To Prepare The Gravy

In medium sauce pan over low heat, melt the butter. When it foams, whisk in the flour and cook, stirring often without allowing the flour to brown, for about 5 minutes.  Combine the pan juices with enough of the chicken broth to equal about 6 cups. Whisk the broth mixture into the flour and butter.  Bring the gravy to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the gravy is slightly thickened.  Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Carve the turkey and serve it with the gravy. 



Pine Nut, Corn Bread and Apple Dressing

¾ cup pine nuts

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 cups coarsely diced onion

1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme, crumbled

3 large baking apples (about 1 ½ pounds total), cored and coarsely chopped

½ cup chopped fresh sage

1 teaspoon salt

1 recipe Stone Ground Corn Bread, crumbled coarsely (see recipe below)

2 ½ cups chicken broth

2 teaspoons ground black pepper



Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toast the pine nuts in a single layer in a shallow metal baking pan and bake stirring once or twice till golden brown. This should take about 7-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter. Add onion and thyme and cook, covered, stirring once or twice for 5 minutes. Add the apples and cook, covered, stirring once or twice, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in sage and salt and cool to room temp. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and turn the oven up to 400 degrees. Butter a large shallow baking dish. In a large bowl, thoroughly toss together the crumbled corn bread, apple mixture and pine nuts. Stir in the chicken broth and the freshly ground pepper and mix thoroughly. Spoon the dressing into the baking dish and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the dressing is steamy. Serves 12. 


Stone Ground Corn Bread


2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups yellow cornmeal, stone ground

4 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons baking power

1 teaspoon salt

2 cups buttermilk, at room temp

2 eggs, beaten

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted



Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 9x11 baking pan. In a large bowl, stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the buttermilk, egg, and melted butter and stir until partially combined. Do not over-mix. Transfer to baking pan and spread to edges. Bake 20 minutes or until cornbread is firm, edges are golden and tester inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool.