If you’re like me you have a taste for turkey and stuffing far beyond Thanksgiving. But who wants to buy a big old bird all the time and roast it in the oven? There’s got to be a better way. Guess what, I found it!
More and more I am becoming adept at using a slow cooker. That means I’m not using it simply to drop something in and cook it until it’s beaten into submission. A slow cooker is a valuable tool but if you don’t use it properly it can create meals that are virtually tasteless.
This recipe, I guarantee you, has tons of flavor. It also has its traditional aspects and its unique aspects and I will discuss those in my lessons learned. I started out by using a bone in turkey breast for this recipe and decided the next time I made it I would try a boneless pork roast. Guess what? Both ways it was fabulous! So let’s talk slow cooker turkey or pork roast and stuffing…
Lesson Learned 1 – How to prepare the stuffing: I used a box of stove stop stuffing for these recipes (one designed to be used with turkey and one designed for pork) so it already had the seasonings I needed in it but you can also use just a plain stuffing mix. If so, you will need to add some poultry seasoning and dried sage. I also added some sliced onions, sliced mushrooms and diced celery to boost the flavor of the stuffing mix when I made the turkey and substituted sliced apples for the mushrooms when making the pork, but you don’t have to. I’ll put both versions in the recipe below and you can chose whatever method suits you.
The first time I made this most of the stuffing was soft except for the very bottom. I stirred everything together after it was all cooked and it turned out ok. The second time I made this I added a cup of chicken broth to the stuffing mix and it turned out perfectly. Since you put the soup/gravy mixture on top of the meat, it does not totally reach all of the stuffing. And since a turkey breast doesn’t have a lot of fat to begin with you need the moistness of the chicken broth to get the desired consistency of the stuffing. I also added carrots on top of the stuffing in both recipes and they turned out perfectly. The pork roast had a little more fat so that also helped to keep the stuffing moist.
Lesson Learned 2 – Spray the crock with cooking spray: After the long hours of slow cooking the stuffing will stick to the crock if you don’t spray it. Make sure you spray the crock with cooking spray before adding the stuffing. You’ll be glad you did at both serving and clean up time.
Lesson Learned – Season each layer: Slow cooking requires careful seasoning so food does not come out tasting bland. Remember to season each layer with salt and pepper as you prepare the slow cooker.
Lesson Learned 4 – What kind of turkey to use: I am fortunate to have a grocery store that cuts half turkey breasts on the bone and sells them fresh. This works so well in this recipe. When I first made it I was surprised at the moistness of the turkey breast. My husband loved it.
You can use a boneless breast as well. You really shouldn’t use more than a 3 pound turkey breast for this recipe. If you do, you will need to cook it longer. If you buy the breast frozen be sure to thaw it before putting it in the slow cooker. For 4 people, 2 1/2 – 3 pounds is perfect. You may even have some leftovers. The breast pictured below is on the bone and 2 1/2 pounds.
Lesson Learned 5 – What kind of pork roast to use: I used a 2 1/4 pound boneless pork roast for this recipe. Make sure when you put it in the slow cooker you put it fat side up. That way the fat will drip down onto the stuffing and vegetables. I also seasoned the pork roast with fresh lemon thyme. I didn’t need to do that when I made this recipe with a turkey breast.
Lesson Learned 6 – Combine turkey gravy or pork gravy and mushroom soup for a delightful sauce: I found combining gravies with the soup created a surprisingly flavorful sauce to put over the meat. When I made the turkey I used a cream of mushroom soup. When I made the pork I used a cremini mushroom bisque soup. Both were great, although in hindsight I preferred the mushroom bisque over the cream of mushroom.
I started out by making a packet of McCormick gravy on the stove and combined it with a can of mushroom soup. You can used jarred gravy as well. The combination tasted divine and gave flavorful moisture to the meat as it cooked.
If I was having a small gathering at Thanksgiving I would consider either one of these for dinner. They were unbelievably good and super simple to make. This is also a great recipe for having turkey and stuffing whenever you want it. Turkey is not just for Thanksgiving anymore.
Lesson Learned 7 – Both versions of this recipe results in super moist and tender meat: I have to say I was surprised at how moist and tender both the turkey and the pork tasted. I cooked both for 5 hours on low and both turned out perfectly. Once again I want to make it clear that you need to know your slow cooker. Also, to ensure the turkey and pork are cooked, you need to adhere to the weights I have given you. If you choose to cook something a little larger you will want to add a little more time to the cooking process.
Try this recipe combo and let me know what you think. They are becoming staples in our home!
Slow Cooker Turkey Or Pork and Stuffing...
1 – 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 pound turkey breast, bone in preferable or,
1 – 2 1/4 – 2 1/2 boneless pork roast
I – 6 oz. box of Stove Top Stuffing (chicken or pork variety)
I cup cremini mushrooms, sliced thick (can use for either chicken or pork)
1 large stalk of celery, diced
1 small onion, diced
1 small granny smith apple peeled and sliced (for a pork roast)
4 carrots, peeled and sliced into 2 inch logs
1 cup chicken broth
2 Tbs butter, melted
I packet McCormick turkey or pork gravy
1 10.75 oz. can of mushroom bisque soup
Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
Fresh Lemon Thyme (pork roast)
Prepare gravy mix according to package instructions. Once the gravy has somewhat cooled add the mushroom soup to the gravy and stir until combined. Set aside.
Spray the crock of the slow cooker with cooking spray. Mix onion, celery, dressing mix, chicken broth and butter until combined. Spread on the bottom of the slow cooker. Add the mushrooms, carrots and apple (pork roast recipe) on top of the stuffing.
Place the turkey or pork roast on top of the stuffing and vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. If making the pork roast, strip lemon thyme leaves from the stalks and season the top of the pork roast. (You can add remaining stalks around the pork to season the stuffing and veggies – just remember to pull them out before serving).
Pour the gravy/soup mixture over the meat. Cover and cook for 5 hours on low.