I still remember my first Christmas turkey in Germany in 1988. I had been married for one year, and I was still finding my way in my new country and in my kitchen.
Young people today can’t imagine themselves not being connected with the whole world anytime anywhere. They have no idea what it is like to be disconnected away from home. They are bored; they chat. They miss someone; they do Skype or Face time. They need information; they surf the Internet. The world is practically at their feet. The world was much smaller some thirty years ago, especially when you lived abroad and the telecommunication in your country of origin was not functioning properly. It was nearly impossible for me to reach my mom when I needed her advice badly. And when I did, I would have already solved my problem by improvising or experimenting.
This is exactly what happened with my first Christmas turkey. The idea to make a stuffed turkey on Christmas Eve came to me a bit late, and too late to reach my mom in time. I started regretting not having watched her more attentively in the kitchen. Nonetheless immediate action was advisable as the turkey was in defrosting mode already. What to do? I only remembered a beautifully roasted turkey with a moist filling that rendered a flavourful sauce.
My first move was to look into a few cookbooks my husband had collected in his single life (he used to cook!). I felt euphoric when I found a recipe for American stuffed turkey in a cookbook for food around the world. I was soon disappointed. With my little culinary knowledge, I couldn’t imagine a filling consisting of old bread, butter, liver, eggs, celery, sage and orange juice. The turkey was quickly defrosting. I was unusually keeping calm. Soon my choice fell on three ingredients from the recipe: bread, butter and orange juice. I added apples, oranges, raisins, cooked chestnuts (my husband had to run to the nearest supermarket), salt, pepper and curry. I loved the sweet tangy flavour I was creating, tasting very often just to make sure. It turned out so delicious that I was eating half of it! My first ever-invented recipe was born on Christmas Eve 1988!
The recipe can be adjusted to the size of your turkey. I don’t follow the recipe one hundred per cent, and play with the amount of the ingredients all the time. I don’t mind some leftover stuffing. It gives the gravy an extra punch when added to it.
I still bake the turkey the way I learned it in that book.
Yield 8-10 servings
- 80 g butter
- 1-2 tablespoons sunflower oil
- 200 g white toast bread, cubed (2 cm)
- 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced (1-2 cm)
- 2 oranges, peeled and diced (2 cm)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon curry
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 80 g raisins
- 200 g ready-cooked chestnuts
- Juice of one orange
- 5-6 kg Turkey
- 1 teaspoon Salt
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 150 ml sunflower to brush turkey
- Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat and melt the butter. Add the oil and the bread and roast, stirring very often, until the bread is nicely toasted. Reduce heat to medium-low. Mix in the apples and the oranges and sprinkle with the spices. Continue cooking for few minutes, stirring often.
- Add the raisins and the chestnuts and pour in the juice. Continue cooking for few minutes to blend the flavours. Set aside to cool.
- Rinse turkey with cold water and drain in a colander. Rub turkey inside with salt and white pepper. Pre-heat oven (200°C- 400°F).
- Just before baking, stuff turkey. Save remaining stuffing for later use. Skewer turkey openings and tie drumsticks with kitchen string. Brush turkey with oil and place breast side down in a large roasting pan. Cover loosely with one large aluminium foil.
- Bake for 2 ½ hours. During that time, uncover every 20-30 minutes and brush the back with oil. After 2 hours uncover and bake for half an hour.
- Turn turkey over breast side up. Brush again with oil and cover with aluminium foil. Bake for one hour, uncover and baste with the released juices and brush with the remaining oil. Cover loosely and bake for another 2 ½ hours. Shut down oven and let turkey stand for 20 minutes with open oven.
- Thicken sauce with corn flour. Add remaining stuffing if desired.
All images and text © Dina Bayoud Kohl for Dina’s Kitchen
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