What do you put under the turkey's skin?
In the past I've used sage leaves and it has been delicious. What do you use?
I like my stuffing all in the turkey, for 2 reasons: it is more flavorful and it helps the turkey to stay moist - protecting the breast meat from drying too much. So, to answer your question, I make double the stuffign i would usually make and stuff it in both cavities and under all the skin i can get into. I pack it right in and , it makes a funny looking bird - all the bumps and lumps, but is a perfect way to both have extra stuffing and to keep the turkey moist.
Turkey skin is pretty tough - if you slide your hand in there first and pull the skin loose from the clingy membranes, you can make a pocket a little bigger than your hand on each side. You do need to use your hands instead of a utensil, but packing some good moist buttery stuffing in there does wonders both for flavoring the breast meat and insulating it so that it cooks as slowly as the dark meat. I don't stuff the cavity at all anymore - I stuff the breast, then bake the rest of the stuffing in a pan.
I always have to have cubed stale bread, preferably cubed at home and not out of a bag. Butter, chicken or turkey broth, celery and onion are essential, as are sage and thyme. If I do cornbread stuffing it's about a half-and-half mixture with my white bread, for poultry anyway. This year I couldn't make up my mind between oyster and bread stuffing and cornbread with chestnuts and sausage, so I'm gonna do both!
As Will said down below, the skin is tuff - but when i say i make double the stuffing as per usual , i am not exaggerating - u can fit a lot more than 1 handful on each side - it goes almost around trhe wings and way down below the breast - and i dont have it all that buttery - the skin protects the stuffing and the stuffing protects the breast meat. And , here's what i really really like: when u start to teke out the stuffing - it sticks to the skin and u get delicious pieces of skin along with the side stuffing - - the stuffing in the other 2 inside cavities of the bird is as normal.
I had that problem with fresh sage--made a note on my recipe to use dried next time. Here's my recipe:
Herb Butter Rub
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 large cloves garlic, pressed
grated zest of 2 lemons
6 Tbl. finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp. dried sage
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. pepper
Mix everything together. Gently loosen the skin from the turkey over the breast meat and smear it with half the butter. Smear the rest on the outside of the skin on the rest of the bird.
I mash garlic, sage, thyme, and paprika in my mortar and pestle, mix it with a little cayenne and loosen it up with good olive oil. Then I put on my trusty disposable surgical gloves and persuade the skin to loosen from the meat, and give the turkey flesh below the skin a good rub with this slushy mix all over, even on the legs and thighs. The flavors seem to absorb better into the meat that way.
I did this turkey last year and it was absolutely incredible. It is a Pancetta-sage turkey and you mix garlic, pancetta, parmesan, butter, olive oil, shallot, rosemary, sage and fresh pepper to make a seasoned butter which you rub between the breast meat and the skin. You then make a pancetta-sage flavored gravy. Have a look at the link, well worth it.