Thanksgiving Fried Turkey and Stuffing Waffles
This Thanksgiving fried turkey and stuffing waffles is a holiday-themed version of the classic Southern fried chicken and waffles dish!
The turkey (wild or domestic) gets a buttermilk brine treatment overnight, then is dredged in a flour mixture and fried to crispy perfection in a cast iron skillet.
To serve it, I made a classic white sausage gravy enriched with minced giblets, stuffing waffles, and cranberry-bourbon maple syrup to top it all off.
What a delicious untraditional Thanksgiving dish, with all of the classic nostalgic flavours!
A big thanks to my friend Gayle for providing the stuffing waffles and the recipe for them!
- Prep Time1 hr
- Cook Time2 hr
- Total Time3 hr
- Ready in3 hours, plus 24hrs marinade
- Yield6 servings with lots of leftovers
For the Brine
- 1 4-7lb turkey (or 4lbs wild turkey breast)
- 2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
- 1 quart (1L) buttermilk
- 5 teaspoons kosher salt
For the Cranberry Bourbon Maple Syrup
- 1 cup real maple syrup
- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
For the Sausage Gravy
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 package plain pork or pork breakfast sausages
- Giblets from turkey, chopped finely (optional)
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 2.5 cups whole milk
- Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
For the Stuffing Waffles (Recipe contributed by my friend Gayle Pulle)
- 1 box turkey stovetop stuffing
- 1/2 cup + 1/2 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon neutral oil
For the Turkey
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups cornstarch
- 3 teaspoons baking powder
- 4 tablespoons poultry seasoning
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- Neutral oil to fry
- Fresh sage leaves to garnish (optional)
For the Brine
Break down your turkey into smaller pieces.
Cut off the wings, then break them into three pieces – wing tip, flat, and drummette. Set the wing tips aside for stock or soup.
Cut off the legs and separate the drumsticks and thighs. Cut alongside the thigh bone, cutting the thighs into 2 pieces each.
Either leave the drumsticks whole, or use a cleaver to chop off the shin bone, leaving only a sphere of meat surrounding a bone.
Slice down the keel bone, separating the meat from the flat bone, then using a heavy knife, continue straight down, chopping through ribs and other bones. Do the same for the other side, separating the breasts from the carcass, leaving some bones and ribs attached to them. Now cut those into 2 or 3 pieces each.
Add the carcass, neck, and any leftover pieces to the soup pile.
You should have about 16 pieces of turkey.
Mix the poultry seasoning and salt with the buttermilk in your largest bowl. Mix well, until all of the salt dissolves.
Now add the turkey pieces, tossing them so that they’re all coated. Either leave them in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a lid, or transfer the turkey pieces and brine to large plastic ziplock bags.
Let brine overnight in the fridge.
For the Syrup
Bring the syrup and cranberries to a strong simmer in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once it starts bubbling, reduce to low heat and let softly simmer until the cranberries burst and begin to break down.
Take the pot off of the heat and stir in the butter until it melts, then stir in the bourbon.
For a clean syrup, strain and discard solids. For a chunky sauce, leave solids in.
Set aside or in the fridge until you’re ready to plate, then briefly heat up in the microwave or on the stove.
For the Sausage Gravy
Add the butter to a pot or skillet over medium-high heat.
Push the sausage out of its casings into the pot. Add the chopped giblets.
Stir and break up the sausage into smaller pieces as it browns. Cook until everything is lightly browned.
Add the flour and thyme and reduce heat to medium. Toast flour, stirring often, for 1 minute.
Slowly pour in the milk, scraping any browned bits off of the bottom of the pan.
Let the gravy cook until it thickens, 3-5 minutes, stirring often.
Add salt and pepper to taste (I like lots of pepper in mine).
Set aside and reheat when ready to plate.
For the Stuffing Waffles
Bring the water and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth to a boil in a medium pot. Add the contents of the stuffing box.
Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring, then cover and take off of the heat.
Let sit for 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
In a small bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, cornstarch, salt, and poultry seasoning.
In a separate large bowl, mix together the milk, the rest of the vegetable broth, the beaten eggs, and the oil. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix them in well.
Preheat waffle maker. Lightly grease, then add some of the stuffing batter (the amount will depend on your waffle maker). Cook until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the batter.
These can be reheated in a 350°F oven for 10 minutes just before plating.
For the Turkey
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Add oil to a large skill (preferably cast iron) to about 2 inches high. Bring to 325°F over medium-high heat. Monitor heat level of oil throughout cooking.
In a large baking or casserole dish, mix the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, poultry seasoning, and salt.
Dribble the buttermilk over the flour mixture and then work it in with your hands, creating little bits. This will create a crunchier crust on the turkey.
Take a piece of turkey out of the brine and place it into the flour mix. Roll it over so that it gets entirely coated, making sure to press flour into the nooks and crannies.
Gently add the turkey piece to the hot oil. Repeat with 1-3 more pieces, depending on the size of your skillet. Be sure not to overcrowd your skillet!
Fry, flipping once, until a temperature gauge reads 160°F in the center.
Transfer the fried turkey to a sheet pan in the oven while you complete the rest of the pieces.
This process took me a little over an hour to do.
Reheat the waffles, syrup, and gravy if need be.
Take a ladleful of gravy and pour it in a pool in the center of a plate.
Press in a stuffing waffle, pushing the gravy outwards.
Top the waffle with a piece or two of fried turkey.
Drizzle the turkey and waffle with the warm syrup. Top with sage leaves and serve. Enjoy!
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