The turkey is a holiday staple with families around the world digging into a slice of this large bird over Thanksgiving and Christmas time. As turkey meat grows in popularity and becomes more widely available in New Zealand, we decided to get together a ‘one-stop shop’ article of everything you need to know about cooking it. Here you will find information on how to roast and stuff a turkey, what to include inside, and what to serve with it. Furthermore, we have collected our favourite turkey recipes and shared them below so that you can make the most out of your leftover turkey meat these holidays.
Roast turkey recipe
If you’re going to roast a whole turkey for your festivities, look no further than this brined turkey recipe. Brining before cooking leads to a more juicy, moist turkey. Roast turkey that is not brined beforehand may lose up to 30 per cent moisture, but a brined turkey will only lose as little as 15 percent. Brining requires a bit more preparation, but it is super easy to do and the results are 100 per cent rewarding.
Choose from one of our stuffed turkey recipes which use a variety of fillings to enhance the bird dish. With something for everyone, take your turkey the extra step and prepare a stuffed turkey for your Thanksgiving or Christmas feast.
Slow-cooked Moroccan turkey recipe
If you have a large slow cooker that will hold a 4.5kg turkey then follow this recipe but only use 1 cup of water. Make the couscous stuffing separately and pile it into the turkey cavity just before serving.
Barbecued butterflied turkey with nut stuffing recipe
Simplicity is the key to this traditional Christmas dinner with a twist. To ensure you get to spend more time on the beach or outside while you’re having your pre-dinner drinks, try cooking your turkey on the barbecue. If you cook it whole it will take about four hours of slow cooking. To speed up the process, butterfly the turkey. This method will have the turkey cooked in only one and a half hours.
Turkey with quinoa stuffing recipe
For those who have problems with gluten, traditional stuffing that uses bread may not seem like the most appropriate addition to your turkey. Luckily, Annabel Langbein has shared a flavourful gluten-free quinoa stuffing recipe that is sure to please gluten lovers just as much as traditional stuffing does.
Boned turkey with cranberry, apple, and nut stuffing recipe
Carving the turkey is always a big part of the ceremony. All eyes are on the carver as they navigate their way around the bone. To make things easier, this boned turkey with cranberry, apple, and nut stuffing is perfect.
Walnut and golden raisin stuffed turkey wrapped in bacon recipe
Turkey AND bacon? The stuffing uses ingredients like walnuts, golden raisins, and capers to create a distinct flavour and texture, while the bacon wrap is both tasty and helps to keep moisture in the turkey. To save time cooking on the day, it’s best to make the stuffing well in advance.
- When stuffing your turkey, ensure that you have one cup of stuffing for every 500g of turkey.
- Pack the stuffing loosely inside the turkey. This will expand inside the turkey during cooking.
- Any extra stuffing that won’t fit in the turkey should be baked alongside the turkey, in a covered casserole dish or something similar.
- Refrain from mixing wet and dry ingredients until just before stuffing the turkey or baking in a casserole dish. This will protect the stuffing from sogginess.
- If you like a drier stuffing, add an egg or two.
- Cool your stuffing before adding it to the turkey at the closest time to cooking. However, 1-2 hours beforehand should be fine as long as the turkey is refrigerated.
- Never stuff your turkey the day before. The stuffing may not cool down enough, even in the fridge, and harmful bacteria can easily multiply. That’s not a problem, of course, if you decide to cook your stuffing alongside, rather than inside, the turkey. Some cooks swear by it for a more moist result, so it ultimately depends on your preference.
Accompany your turkey with:
Turkey and gravy... a heavenly combo.
2) Cranberry, blueberry, and apple sauce
A lovely accompaniment to roast turkey. Poured into smaller jars, it would also make a great present for Christmas Day cooks.
3) Bread sauce
This is a classic, old-school addition to roast turkey. The infused milk makes this soulful medieval sauce a fine substitute for stuffing worthy of revisiting.
4) Pear and chipotle chutney
A divine condiment with a smoky chilli kick that pairs exceptionally well with turkey. It can also be stored and used with ham or fresh fish, or get creative with it!
Bring the monster back down to size and make:
1) Braised turkey drumsticks
Turkey portions are a whole lot bigger than chicken, so a little goes a long way. It can be fairly cost-effective and it’s good for you too — being full of protein and one of the leanest meats available.
2) Turkey burgers
If you can’t find turkey mince, make your own by grinding up the dark meat of a turkey. This is a great recipe idea for using up your leftover meat so nothing goes to waste over Thanksgiving and Christmas.
3) Turkey breast with mole sauce
For a Mexican take on turkey and gravy, serve with mole sauce. Follow the recipe for Mole poblano that can be made ahead and frozen.
4) Turkey and cranberry torpedos
Torpedos are long bread rolls. Serve them as a light meal or cut into smaller portions after baking and serve as turkey and cranberry sliders.
5) Jerk turkey dumplings
Use turkey mince and vegetables to create these jerk turkey dumplings. Serve the dumplings immediately with a dipping sauce of equal parts soy, Sriracha, sesame oil, citrus juice, and sesame seeds.
6) Turkey and ham parcels
This dish is perfect for the cook who wants to be able to control portions and who loves dishing up to be easy on Christmas Day. This can also be made using leftover meat from Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.
7) Turkey, pancetta and sour cherries
There is nothing like roast turkey and stuffing. Using just the breast makes cooking and carving a lot less fussy. If you’re wanting to avoid buying a whole turkey, this recipe is the perfect middle-ground.
8) Peter’s turkey salad
Finally, we have the perfect turkey salad recipe for hot summer days when you’re not wanting to eat a lot of hot roast ham and turkey. This cold salad is a great alternative if you’re looking for something fresh and filling.
For these recipes, we used Crozier’s free-range turkeys, which are raised in and sourced from Ashburton. They recommend:
- An average cooking time of 35 minutes per kilo in a preheated conventional oven at 160C on bake.
- Keeping water in the dish throughout cooking. Free-range turkeys have little fat, especially the smaller sizes, so this helps to maintain tenderness and moisture.
- Resting the cooked turkey for 15 minutes before carving. It allows time for the flesh to relax and for juices to be reabsorbed into the meat before carving.
They say: "Several factors can influence cooking times, such as oven performance, if the turkey is stuffed or unstuffed, covered or uncovered.
“The best way to check if your turkey is cooked is to cut into the thigh meat, between the breast and the leg to check that the juices run clear. Small to medium-sized Crozier’s Free Range Turkeys (up to 6.5kg) have a cooking timer inserted. Your turkey should be cooked when the red section of the timer ‘pops’ up. These timers are a guide only. Do not exceed the recommended cooking time.”