Lyndey Milan: Cook the perfect turkey this Christmas
Christmas is edging closer and closer, and it’s the time of year where we notice turkeys on supermarket shelves in greater and greater numbers.
Have you burnt a turkey before? It always seems to happen on TV and in romcoms… the turkey is burnt and Christmas is ruined.
I thought it timely to do a sort of public service announcement on how to cook the perfect turkey, and who better to talk us through it than Australian home cook hero, Lyndey Milan.
Lyndey joins John Stanley on Nights with common mistakes, and tips to take your turkey to the next level.
Roast Turkey with Italian Sausage Seasoning and Vegetables
Preparation Time: 40 minutes
Cooking Time: 4¾ hours
1 x 4 kg turkey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50cm square muslin or ham skin or prosciutto or thinly-cut bacon
100g butter, melted if using muslin
2 cups (500ml) chicken stock (or more, see sauce)
Spicy Italian Sausage Seasoning
1 tablespoon (20ml) olive oil
1 medium (150g) onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
250g Italian sausages
360g ciabatta (Italian bread), chopped finely into coarse bread crumbs
1 cup (120g) coarsely chopped toasted pecans
½ cup (70g) dried cranberries (Craisins)
½ cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 egg, beaten lightly
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
10 medium (2kg) potatoes, halved
1.2kg pumpkin, peeled, cut into wedges
2 ½ tablespoons (50g) butter, softened
2 tablespoons (40ml) extra virgin olive oil
Peas, snow peas, sugar snap peas, blanched, to serve
Stock from under turkey – should be 2 cups, if not add chicken stock or water
1 cup (250ml) white wine
½ cup (125ml) cream
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
- For Italian sausage seasoning, heat the oil in a medium pan over medium heat, cook onion and garlic, stirring, until translucent but not brown. Remove to a large bowl. Squeeze the sausage meat from the casing into the bowl; add the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper and mix well. (Hands work best!)
- Preheat the oven to 150°C (130°C fan-forced). Discard the neck from the turkey (or use for stock). Rinse the turkey under cold water, pat dry inside and out with absorbent paper. Season inside the cavity with salt and pepper. Fill the neck cavity with the seasoning and secure the skin over the opening with toothpicks. Fill the large cavity with seasoning, tie the legs together with string, tuck wing tips under the turkey.
- Place the turkey on an oiled wire rack in a large flameproof baking dish. Dip the muslin in the melted butter and place it (or the ham skin or prosciutto or bacon) over the turkey. Add stock to baking dish, cover the dish with foil and roast for three hours before adding vegetables.
- For the vegetables, par-boil potatoes until almost tender. Drain, then return to hot saucepan and shake over heat for a minute or until the surface is rough. Alternatively, score with a fork. (This will help to make them crisp when roasted). Toss the potatoes and pumpkin with butter and oil in a heavy baking dish. Season with salt and pepper and add to the turkey in the oven.
- After turkey has been in the oven for a total of four hours, remove the foil and muslin or ham skin (leave prosciutto or bacon in place) and brush turkey with pan juices. Turn the vegetables to ensure even colouring. Increase the oven temperature to 200°C (180°C fan-forced) and roast turkey and vegetables for a further 30 minutes or until turkey is browned and cooked through.
- To test turkey, insert a metal skewer into the thickest part of the thigh. Remove the skewer and press the flesh – if the juices run clear the turkey is cooked. Alternatively, insert a thermometer into the thickest part of the turkey thigh without touching the bone – it should read 90°C. Test the seasoning as well – it should be at least 75°C. Remove the turkey from the dish and stand, covered with foil, for 20 minutes. If vegetables are not golden enough, leave in oven to brown further.
- Meanwhile, drain the pan juices from the baking dish into a large jug. Skim fat from the top and discard. Measure the juices and if they do not make two cups add additional chicken stock. Pour into a medium saucepan with wine, cream, mustard and redcurrant jelly. Bring to the boil, whisking to dissolve the jelly. Boil until reduced by one-third, strain and pour into a warm jug to serve.
- Sprinkle the turkey with sea salt flakes and serve with sauce and vegetables.
CARVING THE TURKEY
A carving set should consist of a non-serrated slicing knife at least 20cm long, and a fork.
Step 1: Holding turkey with carving fork, pry leg outward and find the joint, remove leg and thigh, in one piece by cutting through joint.
Step 2: Cut through joint between thigh and leg. If the turkey is large (over 6kg), slice the meat from the leg and thigh parallel to the bone.
Step 3: Remove the wing.
Step 4: Carve the breast into thin slices at a parallel angle to the breast bone. Repeat with the other side and remove the seasoning with a spoon.
Lyndey’s Note: If using a frozen turkey, allow 2 days to thaw in the refrigerator. The seasoning can be made a day ahead and refrigerated separately. Fill turkey with seasoning close to cooking. To keep leftover turkey, remove seasoning from cavity and refrigerate separately. Be careful not to overstuff the turkey, any additional stuffing can be placed in a small baking tray and cooked for the last 20 – 30 minutes.
This recipe originally appears on lyndeymilan.com and is reposted with permission.
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