Holiday Feast Recipe: Deconstructed turkey with stuffing from Richmond Station’s Carl Heinrich

Holiday Feast Recipe: Deconstructed turkey with stuffing from Richmond Station’s Carl Heinrich

After winning season two of Top Chef Canada, Carl Heinrich became a household name. His new Financial District restaurant, Richmond Station, focuses on the farm-to-table cooking that made him a champ. As a kid, Heinrich helped out with the Christmas turkey and often heard his mom lament that it’s almost impossible to cook both the breast and the leg meat perfectly at the same time. He played with his own recipe until he came up with a simple solution: deconstruct the bird and stuff the legs.

Carl Heinrich’s Deconstructed Turkey With Stuffing

Serves 12


Turkey and stuffing

  • 12 lb fresh or defrosted turkey, broken down into 2 breast pieces on the bone and 2 deboned leg-thigh pieces. Save wings for stock.
  • 4 slices sourdough bread, crusts removed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
  • Pinch each nutmeg, salt and pepper
  • 2 to 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Butcher’s string


  • 16 cups water
  • ½ cup salt
  • ⅓ cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 sprig sage
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed


1. Place brine ingredients in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Pour into a large container and refrigerate brine until it’s cool, about 3 hours.

2. Submerge turkey pieces in chilled brine and refrigerate for at least 5 hours.

3. Prepare stuffing. Preheat oven to 275° F. Remove crusts from bread and cut into ½-inch cubes. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden.

4. Set a large frying pan over medium heat and add butter. When hot, add onion, celery and garlic. Cook, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Stir in sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Stir in bread cubes. Refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.

5. Remove turkey from brine. Rinse under cold running water for 5 minutes. Pat dry.

6. When ready to roast turkey, preheat oven to 300° F. Place deboned legs skin side down on a cutting board. Mound stuffing into a log shape over centre of each leg. (Don’t worry if you don’t use all of the stuffing. Simply place what’s left in a small baking dish, moisten with a little chicken broth, cover and bake alongside turkey until hot.) Wrap skin around each leg and roll as you would a jelly roll. Using butcher’s string, tie each leg in 4 places. The result should be roughly cylindrical and tightly sealed.

7. Heat oil in a large frying pan. Brown each leg all over, then brown skin side of each breast. This will take 2 to 4 minutes per side. Add more oil as needed. Place turkey breasts skin side up and turkey leg rolls seam side down on a rack in a large roasting pan. Bake in centre of preheated oven. Remove breasts when an instant-read thermometre placed into the thickest part reaches a temperature of 150° and legs when they reach 180°. This will take 2½ to 3 hours.

8. Remove to a carving board. Loosely cover and let rest for at least 15 minutes before carving. To carve, cut the breast off the bone and slice thinly crosswise. Remove string from leg rolls. Slice thinly. Serve warm with more stuffing, if you like.

The Healthy Butcher sells grain-fed turkeys from Country­side Poultry in Listowel. The pros there will break down and debone the bird for you upon request. 565 Queen St. W., 416-703-2164; 298 Eglinton Ave., 416-489-3430.

Ravine Vineyard 2010 Chardonnay
$24 | Niagara | 92 points
Powerful, barrel-aged chardonnay will carry turkey and all the trimmings. Apple, butterscotch and peat smoke coalesce in this version. Vintages. LCBO 173377
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Coyote’s Run 2010 Red Paw Pinot Noir
$25 | Niagara | 89 points
Ontario pinot evokes cranberries, making it a slam dunk with turkey. This one has a whisper of wood smoke and enough edgy acidity to cut through the richest fare. Vintages. LCBO 79228
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