Dunster suggested that we have turkey again, but made from scratch and my “way”, for our family dinner on Christmas eve this year. So, I started my research of the best way to roast a turkey abt 2 months before the event.
I was very interested by the American-style of brining a turkey. Water-brining was 1st considered but a large lidded container and space in the fridge for 3 days was a requirement. I have neither. So I chose the dry-brining method – only a space large enough for the turkey in the fridge for 2-3 days was needed and the ingredients for dry-brining’s easy. I also wanted to have stuffing in the turkey; choosing an English stuffing for the neck area and a simple stuffing for the cavity. Roasting was done as per John Torode’s recipe.
It was a simple recipe combi – just some time and patience is all it required. I was actually very happy with the outcome and quite relieved that it turned out so well. The turkey was nicely golden brown on the outside and tender, moist and succulent on the inside. It’s a lovely way to roast a bird (of any kind), I think and I would definitely prepare a bird this way again. It’s a recipe to keep..

Main Ingredients:

  • a fresh turkey (I had a 2.6kg turkey; enough for 4-6 persons)
  • vegetable or sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, halved
  • abt 200ml hot water

Dry-Brining Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp salt per 1.25kg turkey
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp herbs each of your choice (I chose thyme & rosemary)

Cavity Stuffing:

  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 lime (or lemon), halved (I prefer lime)
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled, mashed
  • a bunch of celery leaves
  • a little vegetable or sunflower oil

English stuffing:

  • 450g sausage meat, without skin
  • 300g pork mince
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 150g peeled cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • Good grating of fresh nutmeg
  • 100g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • Large handful of fresh flatleaf parsley, chopped
  • Small handful of fresh sage leaves, chopped, plus 8 extra leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large free-range egg, beaten
  • 8 bacon or pancetta rashers

Bottom Left: Fresh Turkey; Top Left: Salt Mixture Rubbed into Turkey; Top Right: Turkey after 3 days of Marinating in Fridge; Bottom Right: Roasted Turkey just out of Oven

Make sure that turkey is unsalted and if frozen, defrost in fridge fully before dry-brining.

Preparation 3-4 days before:
Prepare fresh or defrosted turkey 3-4 days before roasting.
Mix salt, pepper and herbs in a bowl.
Layer aluminium foil and greaseproof paper on a large tray. Remove neck and giblets of turkey and put aside. Clean and pat dry turkey fully. Put turkey on top. Rub salt mixture all over turkey, more generously over thighs and breasts.
Cover with another layer of aluminium foil and leave in fridge for 3 days 2 nites (turning turkey over once everyday).Β  (I only did it twice as I got my fresh turkey 3 days before the dinner. I think it was still good enough.)

Preparation a day before:
Remove aluminium foil cover from turkey and return uncovered turkey to fridge the nite before roasting (or dinner).

Preparation on day of dinner:

Prepare English stuffing for neck cavity.
Mix sausagemeat and pork mince in a large bowl and set aside.
Heat butter and oil in a frying pan, add chestnuts and fry for 2-3 mins. Grate in nutmeg. Cool a little, then add to pork.
Add breadcrumbs, herbs, garlic and egg to bowl and season. Mix with hands until fully combined. Leave aside a generous quarter of stuffing to fill neck cavity of turkey.
Then press remainder into a 1kg loaf tin lined with cling film or shape by hand into a rectangle (abt 8cm x 16cm x 5cm deep). Chill for 10-15 mins, then turn out and cut into 8 rectangles. Put a sage leaf on top of each, then wrap snugly in a piece of pancetta.
Then chill again in a lined tray; removing from fridge 30 mins before turkey’s ready, to return them to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 220C.

Take turkey out of fridge 1 hr before roasting, so that turkey can come to room temperature. It’s very noticeable that most of the salt mixture has dissolved into turkey but to be sure, remove excess salt from turkey with a pc of kitchen paper.

Prepare a large deep baking tray with a halved onion, turkey neck and giblets and put a trivet or wire rack in the tray.

Put cavity stuffing ingredients into cavity and seal with a skewer (or 2 small wood skewers). Turn over turkey.
Carefully separate skin under neck cavity area between turkey breasts and fill it with generously with English stuffing. Once done, gently pull skin over to cover stuffing.

Tie a pc of string over skin of neck cavity (to keep stuffing inside intact) around wings over legs (to keep cavity stuffing intact). Spray or gently rub oil all over turkey, more generously over thighs and breasts.

Pour abt 200ml boiling water into bottom of tin, then cover whole thing with a layer of greaseproof paper and 2 layers of foil, making sure it is well sealed around edges.
Cook for 20 mins, then reduce temperature to 200C.
After 1 hour (20 mins per 1.25kg total turkey weight), remove foil and greaseproof paper.
Cook for a further 35-40 mins and don’t open oven door till cooking time’s up.
To test whether turkey’s cooked, insert a skewer or knife blade into point where thigh joins breast – juice should run clear (or use a meat thermometer, prick into thickest part of thigh but not touching bone, thermometer should read 70C or above).
If it is pink, cook it for another 20 mins and test again. Leave turkey, covered partially, to rest in a warm place for abt 30 mins before serving.

When you’re ready to serve, place bacon-wrapped stuffing balls on a non-stick baking sheet and bake for 15 mins until parcels are cooked and pancetta is golden.

Served with roasted potatoes, Brussels sprouts-bacon casserole, Mediterranean vege casserole, cranberry sauce and mushroom sauce.

The Appetizer of Egg-Sundried Tomatoes Salad in Cups and Wild Ragout in Puff Pastry.. πŸ™‚

The dessert consists of 2 types of Dutch vla (which is a sort of runny custard), Dutch icecream and whipped cream.. πŸ™‚

My mum-in-law’s famous homemade Dutch Apple Tart with coffee.. Yummmsssss.. πŸ™‚

Overall, Dunster rated it as a success; we had loads of fun and a lovely time with delish food (I’m glad to say).. πŸ™‚


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