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Roast turkey with sausage meat stuffing and whole chestnuts

The modern methods of poultry rearing that have made chicken more available have done the same for turkey. Turkeys today are specially bred to different stages and are available weighing from 2.5 kg / 5 lb - just right for a family Sunday lunch - to the monster turkeys we like to buy at Christmas time.

Roast turkey with sausage meat stuffing and whole chestnuts


Making stock, 2 hours preparation, 

2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours roasting, then 1/4 hours 

Serves 8-10

4.5 kg / 10 lb turkey, dressed weight, giblets reserved
salt and freshly ground black pepper 
225 g / 8 oz butter, melted 

For the turkey giblet stock 

1 Spanish onion, coarsely chopped 
1 bay leaf 
4 sprigs each celery leaves and parsley 
salt and freshly ground black pepper 
150 ml / 5 fl oz dry white wine

For the sausage-meat stuffing 

75 g / 3 oz fat bacon slices 
25 g / 1 oz butter 
100 g / 4 oz crust-less stale white bread, cut into 10 mm / 1/3 in cubes 
450 g / 1 lb pork sausage-meat 
225 g / 8 oz boned pork spare rib or veal, minced 
1 small onion, finely chopped 
30 ml / 2 tbs finely chopped parsley 
1.5 ml / 1/4 tsp dried thyme 
1.5 ml / 1/4 tsp dried marjoram 
pinch of dried sage 
1 large egg, beaten 
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For the chestnuts stuffing 

1 kg / 2 lb chestnuts 
45 ml / 3 tbs cooking oil 
15 - 25 g / 1/2 - 1 oz butter 
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

For the gravy 

15 ml / 1 tbs cornflour 
salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Roast turkey with sausage meat stuffing and whole chestnuts Preparation 

1- First make the turkey giblet stock. Cut the wing tips from the turkey at the first joint. Wash the neck, heart, gizzard and wing tips and place them in a pan with the coarsely chopped onion, bay leaf, celery leaves and parsley and a little salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the dry white wine and enough water to cover the giblets. Bring to the boil, skim the surface, cover the pan and simmer over a gentle heat for 1 1/2 hours, topping up with water, when necessary, to keep the giblets covered. Wash the turkey liver, add it to the pan and simmer for a further 30 minutes. Strain the stock into a measuring jug. You should have at least 425 ml / 15 fl oz; make it up to this amount with water, if necessary.

2- Make the sausage-meat stuffing: cook the bacon slices in a large frying-pan over the heat until the fat runs, and the bacon slices are crisp and dark golden. Remove them from the pan with a slotted spoon and crumble them into a large bowl (or snip them with kitchen scissors).

3- Add the butter to the bacon fat in the frying-pan and heat until foaming. Add the bread cubes and toss over a moderate heat until they are crisp on the outside but still soft and spongy inside. Add to the crumbled bacon. Add the remaining sausage-meat stuffing ingredients and 60 ml / 4 tbs of the turkey giblet stock, and mix by hand until the ingredients are thoroughly blended. 

4- Make the chestnut stuffing. First shell and skin the chestnuts: with the tip of a small knife, cut a slit in the shell on the rounded side of each chestnut. heat the cooking oil in a wide, heavy saucepan. Add enough of the chestnuts to make a single layer in the pan, and saute them over a high heat for 4 minutes, shaking the pan to keep the chestnuts moving and prevent them from charring. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chestnuts to a colander. Rinse them briefly with cold water until they are cool enough to handle, then remove the shells and peel away the thin inner skins, trying not to break the nuts. Repeat with the remaining chestnuts. 

5- Cook the shelled and skinned chestnuts in boiling salted water for about 5 minutes, until they are quite tender. Drain the chestnuts thoroughly, reserving a little of the liquor, then return the empty pan to the heat, add the chestnuts, butter and 15-30 ml / 1-2 tbs of the reserved liquor and swirl the pan until the chestnuts are coated with the buttery liquid. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. 

6- Heat the oven to 220 C / 425 F / gas 7. Using a damp cloth or absorbent paper, wipe the turkey clean both inside and out, then pat it dry, Using a pair of tweezers, or the point of a knife and your thumb, pluck out any bits of feather or quill. Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time, allowing 35-37 minutes per kg/16-17 minutes per lb for rare meat, and up to 44 minutes per kg/20 minutes per lb for well-cooked meat.

7- Loosen the skin all over the breast of the turkey by carefully easing your hand down between the skin and the flesh. Take great care that you do not tear the skin. If the skin refuses to come away from the flesh at any point, release it with a pair of scissors or the point of a sharp knife. 

8- Push the sausage-meat stuffing between the breast skin and flesh of the turkey, making sure that you push it right to the end and down the sides of the breast. Do not pack it too tightly though, as it tends to swell during cooking. Draw the neck skin loosely over the back. Stitch with strong thread, or use skewers or cocktail sticks, to hold the neck skin in position and the wings folded under. 

9- Stuff the chestnuts loosely into the body cavity. If you have any chestnuts left over, they can be added to the roasting tin for the last 30 minutes of cooking time for the turkey, then removed from the tin with a slotted spoon just before serving, Sew the vent shut and tie the legs together with string.

10- Put the turkey, breast side up, in a large roasting tin. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Using a sharp skewer or cocktail stick, prick the breast skin all over. This helps to prevent it bursting should the stuffing swell. 

11- Cut a piece of double-thick muslin, large enough to drape over and cover the turkey completely. Rinse the muslin under the running cold water and wring it out as dry as possible. Soak the muslin in the melted butter and gently squeeze out the excess. Drape the buttered muslin over the turkey. 

12- Roast the turkey on the lowest shelf of the oven for 15 minutes of the calculated cooking time. Then reduce the oven temperature to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas 4, turn the turkey onto its breast and roast for a further 15 minutes of the cooking time to allow the back to take on some color. Turn the turkey back to its original position and roast for the rest of the calculated cooking time. 

13- Meanwhile combine the remaining melted butter with 150 ml / 5 fl oz of the turkey giblet stock. Baste the turkey with this buttery liquid after the first 30 minutes of cooking time, then baste every 15 minutes with the buttery liquid and the juices in the roasting tin, making sure that the muslin is completely re-moistened with each basting. About 45 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the muslin to allow the turkey to brown. To test that the turkey is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the inside leg close to the body; the juices should run just clear, If you cut the string and move the leg, the leg joint should wiggle loosely in its socket. 

14- Remove the trussing threads, string and skewers from the cooked turkey and transfer the turkey to a heated serving platter. Turn off the oven, then slide the turkey back into the oven to keep warm while you make he gravy.

15- Skim the excess fat from the juices in the roasting tin. Bring the skimmed juices to the boil, add 275 ml / 10 fl oz of the turkey giblet stock and return to the boil, stirring, and scraping the base and sides of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any bits.

16- Taste and season the gravy if necessary. Blend the cornflour to a smooth paste with a little cold water, add some of the hot liquid form the tin and mix well, then return the mixture to the pan and stir thoroughly. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly. Strain the gravy into a heated sauce-boat and serve with the roast turkey

Photo credit = http://realfood.tesco.com

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