Christmas turkey with bacon and cranberry stuffing
Photography by Brett Stevens. Styling by Yael Grinham.
Serves 8Cooking time:
More than 2 hoursCourse: Main
The turkey is soaked in a sugar and salt solution, producing a tender, moist result.
1 cup (250g) fine salt (not iodised)
2 cups (440g) caster sugar
100g butter, chopped
1/3 cup (50g) plain flour
3 cups (750ml) salt-reduced chicken stock, approximately
BACON AND CRANBERRY STUFFING
750g loaf Italian bread (pane di casa),
half of the crusts removed
6 rashers (330g) bacon, rind removed, chopped coarsely
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 medium (750g) brown onions,
1/2 cup (125ml) water
2/3 cup (90g) dried cranberries
2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, leaves
1/2 cup (80g) pine nuts, toasted
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
50g butter, melted
1. The night before cooking the turkey, mix the salt and sugar in a tub of cold water large enough for the turkey to be submerged; stir to dissolve. Place the turkey into the tub. Refrigerate overnight. Or line the refrigerator's vegetable crisper with a thick large plastic bag, such as a large clothes storage bag or a bag from the butcher. Place the turkey and water mixture in bag to cover turkey, secure with a strong rubber band and refrigerate overnight.
2. Remove the turkey from the water at least an hour before cooking; pat dry and allow to reach room temperature.
3. BACON AND CRANBERRY STUFFING: Process the bread to a very coarse crumb; transfer to a large bowl. Add bacon to a large saucepan; cook, stirring, until golden brown. Add oil and onion; cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes or until soft but not coloured. Add the water and cranberries to pan; cook, stirring, until the water evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in parsley. Combine the onion mixture with the breadcrumbs, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Add enough of the melted butter to bind the stuffing.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced). Discard the neck from the turkey. Rinse turkey under cold running water. Pat dry inside and out with absorbent paper. Fill the turkey cavities loosely with about half the Bacon and Cranberry Stuffing. Tie the legs of the turkey together with kitchen string; tuck the wings under. Place the turkey in a large flameproof baking dish. Melt half the butter. Brush the turkey all over with melted butter; sprinkle with salt. Cover dish tightly with greased foil and roast for about 21/2 hours, removing the foil after the first hour. As juices collect in the baking dish, baste the breast. Remove any excess juices and reserve.
5. Meanwhile, pile the extra stuffing into a greased shallow 1.5-litre (6-cup) ovenproof dish. Drizzle the stuffing with 1/2 cup of the reserved turkey juices. Bake for 11/2 hours with turkey. If the stuffing starts to dry out, add more juices or chicken stock. The end result should be moist with a crunchy golden top. If wing tips, ends of the drumsticks (or any other part of the turkey) start to colour too quickly, protect them with foil. The turkey is cooked when it is golden brown, the legs are loose in their joints and juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the thigh. Stand turkey in
a warm place, covered, for 20 minutes.
6. Pour the juices from the baking dish into a jug; stand for a few minutes or until the fat has risen to the surface. Discard the fat. Place the baking dish over a medium heat; add the remaining butter and stir until melted. Stir in the flour, cook, stirring, until well browned. Gradually stir in turkey juices, then the stock; cook, stirring, until the mixture boils and thickens. Adjust consistency with more stock or water, if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Strain gravy into a jug. Reheat in clean pan or microwave until hot, if needed.
7. Serve the turkey and the gravy with the extra stuffing.
Stuffing suitable to freeze. Not suitable to microwave.