Christmas Turkey with Amazing Apple, Sage and Cashew Stuffing
The turkey is often the centrepiece of the Christmas table, so you want to do it justice. Too many times have I had dry, overcooked Christmas turkey with an average stuffing. This turkey and stuffing recipe was cooked and eaten by thousands of people last year who got the My Food Bag Christmas bag, and it was so popular (people are still raving about it!), that this year we’re doing it all again.
There are a few key things to know before cooking your bird which I’ve listed below. You can also watch a quick step-by-step video of me making the turkey here, so you’ll be super confident when it comes to your turn.
- Make sure it’s fully defrosted before cooking (because turkeys are so big, they will take 2-3 days in the fridge to defrost or a day on the bench). Ensuring it’s fully defrosted before cooking will help with even cooking. And it should be at room temperature before cooking, so if its been in the fridge, let it sit on the bench for an hour before cooking.
- Don’t overcook it. Because the meat is so lean, it can have a tendency to dry out – an average sized 4kg turkey (once fully defrosted) will only take about 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours to cook through, but then you have to make sure you rest it (see below) because it will continue to cook a bit more. Most turkeys have a thermometer in them that pops out once the bird has reached an internal temperature of 65degC. I recommend cooking your turkey for approximately 15 minutes per 500g. If you suspect your oven temperature may be lower (some older ovens aren’t as fierce as they used to be), you may have to bump up the temperature or cook it a little longer.
- After the turkey is just cooked through (you can test it’s cooked through by piercing into the point where it’s thigh meets it’s body with a sharp knife and seeing if the meat is cooked and there should be no red blood (sometimes however the meat close to the bone is darker/a bit pink – don’t worry, the meat is safe to eat. Younger turkeys and chickens have more porous bones which may allow red pigmentation (haemoglobin) to run into the meat). The juices, while mostly clear, may have a slight pinkish tinge and that is fine! It does not mean it is uncooked – cooked poultry often has a slight pinkish tinge in the juices, particularly in younger birds. You don’t want to over-cook it! Another quick test is to give the drumstick a little wiggle – it should move freely when cooked, with little resistance. Take the turkey out of the oven, cover it with tinfoil and tea towels to keep it warm, and let it rest for 20 minutes – it will continue cooking a little more, and the juices will reabsorb back into the meat keeping it nice and moist.
OK, enough of talking turkey, here’s the recipe!….
- butter 200g melted (use margarine if you want to make it dairy-free)
- red onion 1 finely diced
- apples 2 small, finely diced
- fresh sage leaves 1/4 cup sliced (or you can use chopped thyme leaves)
- dried cranberries, cherries or apricots 1 cup chopped
- panko breadcrumbs 220g (about 3 1/2 cups) (use GF breadcrumbs if you want to make it gluten-free)
- milk 1/2 cup (use soy or almond milk if you want to make it dairy-free)
- roasted salted cashews 3/4 cup chopped
- eggs 2, whisked
- salt 1/2 teaspoon
- freshly ground black pepper 1 teaspoon
Turkey and Onions
- free-range turkey 1 whole 4-4.5kg
- water 1 cup
- olive oil 2 tablespoons
- lemon juice of 1
- salt 1 teaspoon
- red onions 3 large, cut into quarters (leave the skin on -this helps prevent the onions from burning)
- balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar 1 tablespoon
- olive oil 1 tablespoon
- sage leaves or rosemary sprigs (optional)
- cranberry sauce 150g
Preheat oven to 175degC/350 Fahrenheit
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the melted butter in a large fry pan. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, until soft. Add apple and sage and cook for a further 2-3 minutes until apple is soft. Transfer to a large bowl.
- Add cranberries/cherries/apricots, breadcrumbs, milk, cashew nuts, eggs, remaining melted butter, salt and pepper to the apple and onion mixture, and mix until well combined.
- Rinse turkey out with water. Clean out the cavity, discarding the neck and offal, and pat turkey dry with paper towels. Place on a large chopping board. Fold wing tips under it’s body and leave legs tied together. Place 1/2 cup stuffing into the cavity, using your hands to compact it. Repeat until the cavity is full (you will most likely have some stuffing leftover). Roll any remaining stuffing into balls to be roasted later.
- Transfer turkey to a large roasting dish and pour water around it (this will help to cook the turkey evenly and keep it moist). Brush or rub turkey with olive oil, squeeze over lemon juice (this helps it brown) and sprinkle with salt. Roast for 1 hour, then reduce oven temperature to 160degC/320 Fahrenheit.
- Arrange onion wedges and any stuffing balls around the turkey and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Return to oven to cook for a further 40-55 minutes or until the little thermometer pops out indicating the turkey is just cooked through. Remove, cover with tinfoil and tea towels and let it rest for at least 15-20 minutes before carving and serving.
- To serve, transfer turkey, onions and stuffing balls to a very large platter and decorate with sage/rosemary (if using). Serve with warmed cranberry sauce on the side. Toast your fellow Christmas guests and dig in! Merry Christmas!