Christmas Turkey

Roasted turkey garnished with cranberries on a rustic style table decoraded with pumpkins, gourds, asparagus, brussel sprouts, baked vegetables, pie, flowers, and candles.


A 3-4kg whole turkey will feed 10-15 guests, depending on what else you are serving. A 1kg boned turkey breast will feed 6-8 guests. A boned turkey breast offers great value as there’s no wastage, it takes less time to cook than a whole turkey and its also easy to slice and serve.


Buy a fresh turkey a few days before cooking and keep refrigerated. You can order turkeys from the meat department. Frozen turkey can be bought a month ahead of the big day and kept frozen. Don’t forget to allow 2-3 days to slowly thaw the turkey, and always thaw it in the fridge.


Stuffing is a delicious accompaniment to roast turkey; it adds flavour and also makes the turkey go further. Prepare the stuffing (see the Turkey Stuffing recipe below) and fill the main and front cavities of the turkey. This is best done on the day. Secure the turkey legs together after stuffing using kitchen twine.


Combine 6 cups breadcrumbs (from 2-day-old bread) with 1 finely diced onion, 2 tbs melted butter, ½ cup chopped parsley, ¼ cup chopped sage, ¼ cup dried cranberries, finely grated rind of 1 lemon and 1 lightly beaten egg. Season with salt and pepper. turkey Golden and succulent, this crowd-pleasing roast turkey, complete with fresh herb stuffing, will be the star of your Christmas table.


Before you begin, check that you have a roasting pan large enough for the turkey. Disposable aluminium baking trays are available from Woolworths. You should also check that the turkey will actually fit into your oven! Calculate the cooking time based on the weight of the turkey. You should allow 35-40 minutes per kilo. For a 4kg turkey, that  would be around 2½ hours. Baste the skin during cooking with juices from the base of the pan. This will crisp the skin and keep the meat moist. You may need to protect the wings and drumsticks with foil. To check if the turkey is cooked, insert a thick skewer into the meaty part of the thigh and remove. If the juices that run out are clear with no traces of pink, then it is done.


Loosely cover the turkey with foil and rest for 20 minutes before you carve. (This also gives you time to make the gravy.) To carve the turkey, remove the drumstick and thigh portion by cutting between the leg and body. Cut through the leg joint and place pieces onto a platter. The thigh meat can be sliced off the bone. Next, cut off the wing portion where it meets the body. Finally, slice across the breast meat working towards the breastbone.


The stuffing can be prepared ahead of time and kept refrigerated, but don’t fill the turkey until just before cooking. COOK’S TIP Tie the drumsticks together firmly and tuck the wings underneath the body. This helps to keep a good shape during cooking.


Always use fresh herbs in your stuffing for maximum flavour. You can swap the dried cranberries for dried figs or dried dates, if you prefer.

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Recipe courtesy Fresh magazine Cooking school 101

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