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Sunday, 16 December 2012

Talking Turkey

Its only 8 more sleeps until Xmas Day with lots of eating, cooking and drinking ahead!
Just thought I would share with you some notes on the turkey. I am also going to give you a few stuffing recipes for the bird all quite different. In Australia we don't cook turkey a lot, except for festive occasions.  Everyone asks about the cooking of the turkey perhaps a little scared of ruining the main meal.They are generally bigger than a chicken and  have a tendency to dry out quite easily.
Whether your preference is a whole bird, a buffe, which is the breast on the bone with no wings, or a boned breast all of the following seasonings are suitable. The seasoning also helps to keep the bird moist.

Notes on the Turkey
If you are serving a lot of people you are better off buying two smaller birds than one giant one, therefore, less risk of a dry bird
Any frozen bird destined to be stuffed, needs to be completely thawed. The bird cannot be stuffed the night before and the seasoning must be at room temperature and the turkey stuffed just prior to cooking.
The turkey should be rinsed out and wiped with a paper towel and can be smeared with lemon and a few fresh sprigs of thyme. The bird must be smeared with butter and salt and pepper and loosely covered with foil. Some people also cover it in butter soaked muslin, if you happen to have some on hand.
For a 4.5 kg turkey cook in 220 C oven for 15 minutes, then turn down the heat to 180 C and cook for a further 2 1/2 hours. For the last 20 minutes take off the foil.
To test prick the thickest part of the thigh, just as the juices become clear remove immediately. rest the turkey for 15 minutes before carving.
All of the below seasoning can be added to.

Three Onion Seasoning   A little more traditional
5-6.5 kg bird
7 cups bread in large chunks
8 small leeks cut into 1/2 inch pieces, cut length ways then cross ways
3 medium  red onions cut into 1 inch pieces
12 large shallots
3 large celery stalks
3 tablespoons minced garlic 10 small cloves or 5 large
3 tablespoons chopped thyme leaves
2 tablespoons chopped sage
1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 tablespoons butter
Rylstone olive oil
1 cup chicken stock

In a shallow baking pan, spread the bread and bake in a moderate oven stirring occasionally until golden, 10-15 minutes.Transfer to a large bowl.
Wash the leeks, and in a large pan cook the leeks, onion, shallots, celery, garlic and herbs with some salt and pepper in the butter and olive oil. Add the onion mixture to the bread and toss to combine. Stuff the turkey but leave some aside.
The seasoning can be made the day ahead to this stage and stored in the fridge covered. Approx 1 1/2 hours before the turkey is cooked drizzle the remaining seasoning with the stock and cook covered for about half hour, uncover and brown for 20 minutes.
This will give you a moist and a crunchy dry seasoning.

Couscous Seasoning ( for a fruity seasoning )
1.5 kg bird
65 grams couscous
80 ml chicken stock
35 grams chopped dates
35 grams chopped  dried apricots
35 grams toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons apricot nectar
2 tablespoons chopped coriander

Heat the stock and pour over the couscous and leave to stand for 10 minutes.Add the remaining ingredients.

Apple and Prune Seasoning ( more substantial and my favourite )
3.5-5 kg bird
500 grams cooking apples
30 grams butter
12 spring onions
500 grams pork mince
12 pitted prunes, chopped
3 rashers bacon chopped
port for soaking the prunes
1/4 cup parsley
a couple of chopped sage leaves
2 cups soft white breadcrumbs
2 beaten eggs
1 teaspoon salt
black pepper
Warm the port in the microwave and soak the chopped prunes for about an hour. Peel and core the apples and chop into small pieces. If you choose to cook the apples you will have a moister stuffing. I leave them uncooked. Saute the onions in the butter and add the bacon, stir until cooked. In a large basin mix the pork, bacon, apples, breadcrumbs, herbs, salt, pepper and eggs. Add the prunes and the port to the mixture. Keep in the fridge until ready to use but take out approximately an hour before stuffing the bird.
If you have any of this seasoning left, roll into a sausage shape in foil and cook in the same pan as the turkey for the last hour. This can then be sliced as a sausage and place around the carved turkey on your platter.

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