Thanksgiving Recipe: Cathal Armstrong’s Turkey and Stuffing

The Restaurant Eve toque shares tips from his upcoming cookbook.

Chef Cathal Armstrong shares his father’s method for roasting a perfect bird. Photograph by Scott Suchman

“I’ve cooked probably 3,000 turkeys in my life, and every one has always been spot-on for this recipe,” says Cathal Armstrong, chef/owner of Restaurant Eve.

He learned the method from his father, and a version of the failproof recipe will appear in My Irish Table, Armstrong’s first cookbook, debuting in spring 2014.

While there are many ways to tackle a turkey, Armstrong swears by his: The bacon-wrapped bird first steams in the oven, ensuring moist meat, and is then roasted at a higher temperature to crisp the skin. Health departments don’t recommend stuffing the turkey, but as chef says, “if you decide to be risky like your grandmother,” make sure you take the weight of the stuffing (about a pound here) into account for the cooking time.

Thanksgiving Turkey and Stuffing

Serves 8 to 10


For the turkey:

1 (15-pound) turkey, such as those from Fields of Athenry Farm (available at Society Fair)
1 package pork bacon
1 roll aluminum foil
Cooking twine
1 pint chicken stock

For the stuffing:

1 pint chicken broth
½ pound diced bacon
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large Idaho potato, diced
4 cups sourdough bread, diced
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
5 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper

For the pan gravy:

3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 quarts chicken stock


Make the stuffing and turkey:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, thoroughly combine the ingredients for the stuffing. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Rinse the turkey cavity and pat it dry. Fill the turkey cavity with the stuffing. Tie the legs together tightly. Cover the neck cavity with foil to ensure the skin doesn’t burn and the stuffing stays moist.

Place the turkey on a baking rack set inside a baking sheet, or place turkey on a traditional turkey baking pan with a raised rack.

Cover the breast of the turkey with strips of bacon, followed by a layer of foil to cover this area only.

Pour 1 pint of chicken stock into the baking sheet or pan. Place in the oven.

Cook the turkey for 15 minutes per pound, plus 15 minutes to begin (about 4 hours total for a 15-pound turkey). One hour from finish cooking time, remove the foil from the stuffing section and the breast section, along with the bacon. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. If you want to test the doneness of the bird with a meat thermometer, the target temperature is 165 degrees.

Make the pan gravy:

Once the bird has been removed from the oven, add a small amount of chicken broth to the pan drippings. With a whisk, get the drippings and the liquid moving around.

In a separate bowl make a roux, mixing the flour and butter together.

Set a saucepan over medium heat and add the roux, followed by the chicken stock and pan drippings. Gradually add more chicken stock, stirring, to adjust for consistency (it should be the texture of a light soup). Bring the mixture to a boil until it thickens to a brown gravy. Once it has a thick consistency, remove from the heat and pass it through a fine strainer.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.