Saturday, December 15, 2012

Recipe: Traditional Roast Turkey with Chestnut & Bacon Stuffing

Everyone looks forward to Christmas dinner, it's the one time of year when you have all your loved ones around the dining table tucking into a festive feast of succulent roast turkey. When it comes to roast turkey the recipe below isn't new, but it is a classic, which is why this recipe is always a real winner. It will leave plenty of left over turkey and stuffing for a crusty toasted sandwich later in evening too! The most important part of a good turkey dinner is sourcing a good quality, free-range turkey which will yield the very best results. Across the country, there are many Irish turkey suppliers to choose from including:

- Dan Ahern Free Range Turkey based in Midleton, Co. Cork
- The Friendly Farmer based in Co. Galway
- McEvoy's Farm Co. Kildare
- Ballybryan Farm in Co. Offaly - and hundreds more besides.



- 10lb or 4.5kg Bronze Turkey (keep turkey giblets for stock).
- 250g Irish Country Butter. 
- 24 pieces of Streaky Bacon.
- Salt & Black Pepper.


- 2 Medium Onions (diced).
- 200g Bacon Lardons (or chopped bacon).
- 175g Irish Country Butter.
- 350g Breadcrumbs.
- 200g Chestnuts (vac pac, roughly chopped).
- 3 Tbsp Freshly chopped herbs (flat leaf parsley, thyme, sage)
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper.

Cranberry Sauce

- 250g Fresh Cranberries.
- 100g Caster Sugar.

Giblet Stock:

- Turkey Giblets (discard the liver).
- 150ml White Wine (optional).
- 1 Onion (sliced).
- 1 Carrot (sliced).
- A Stick of Celery (sliced).
- 3 Sprigs of Thyme.
- 3 Sprigs of Parsley.
- 1 Bay Leaf.
- 6 Whole Peppercorns.
- 1 Garlic Clove.
- A Generous Pinch of Sea Salt.


- 500ml Turkey Stock.
- 1 to 2 Tbsp Plain Flour.

Christmas Eve:

There's lots you can do on Christmas Eve to get yourself organised and take the pressure off including; making the stock, cranberry sauce, stuffing and preparing your turkey. On Christmas Eve take your turkey out of the fridge and leave it come up to room temperature overnight in a cool dry place. 

For The Giblet Stock:

1. Remove the giblets from inside your bird and wash (discarding the liver as it will make the stock bitter).

2. Bring a large heavy bottomed saucepan with 1 litre of water to the boil. Add in the giblets, onion, celery, herbs, garlic, white wine and bay leaf to the pot. Bring to the boil once more, then simmer for 1.5 to 2 hrs. Ensure you taste your stock, if you feel it needs more time continue on.

3. Using a large metal spoon remove the stock froth from the surface of the liquid and discard. Pour the stock into a container, allowing it to cool and refrigerate until needed.

Chestnut Stuffing:

1. Sweat the onions, bacon and garlic with the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat until soft but not browned for around 10mins. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

2. Add the chopped chestnuts and herbs for a further 2 mins before mixing in the breadcrumbs. Allow to cool completely before covering and placing in the fridge to stuff your bird the following morning.

Cranberry Sauce:

Place the cranberries in a heavy bottomed sauce pan with 150ml cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiled reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the berries start to burst and tip in the sugar for the final 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool before placing in the fridge until ready to serve.

Christmas Morning:

The turkey needs to come up to room temperature before roasting which can take a number of hours so leave it out the night before in a cool dry place covered in tin foil. On Christmas Eve, wash the cavity of the bird, season and cover your bird.

For The Roast Turkey:

Preheat your non-fan assisted oven to 220ºC or Gas Mark 7, then calculate your cooking time as below weighing the bird (including the stuffing). The general rule of thumb is 15 min per lb (450g) + 30 mins over with the table below being a good reference point:
  • (10lb) = 2 hours 
  • (12lb) = 2½ hours
  • (17lb) = 3 hours
  • (20lb) = 3½ hours
  • (25lb) = 4½ hours
1. Smear your turkey with good quality Irish butter, salt, black pepper and place 6-8 strips of streaky bacon on top. Cover with foil and roast the turkey in the oven for the first 30 mins at 220ºC or gas mark 7

2. After the first 30 mins baste your turkey once more, cover in foil again before lowering the temperature to 180ºC or gas mark 4 for the guided times above and continue to baste your turkey at 30 minute intervals throughout cooking. It is a good idea to remove the streaks of bacon on top and replace with fresh bacon streaks a few times throughout cooking for a nice tasty skin.

3. Remove the foil, baste your turkey once more and increase the temperature again to 220ºC / gas mark 7 for the final 30 minutes.

4. The turkey is cooked when the thickest part of the turkey's leg is pierced with a skewer and the juices run clear. If the juices are still pink, place the turkey back in the oven and keep checking at 15 minute intervals until the juices have run clear. The guidelines above should only be used as a guideline; it is the turkey leg test which is the best indicator as to whether the turkey is cooked or not. Once the juices have run clear, place the turkey on a serving plate allowing to rest for 40mins to an hour before carving.


Warm 500 ml of turkey stock, while the stock is warming strain the fat from the roasting tin leaving only the juices. Pour the stock over, using a balloon-whisk, whisk in small amounts of plain flour and keep whisking with the juices over until it turns a smooth delicious golden brown. Serve in a warmed gravy boat alongside the turkey and all the trimmings.

Brussel Sprouts:

The most feared vegetable at Christmas but I feel this is only because a lot of people over cook them. Quick tip: Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil (just enough to cover your Brussel sprouts). While the water is boiling you can slice each Brussel sprout in half and set aside. Once the water is boiling hot, tip in your Brussel Sprouts and cook for 6 minutes. Test to see if they are soft with the tip of a sharp knife before draining. Return to the pan with a really generous dollop of butter to coat the Brussel Sprouts before serving. Always buy locally grown Brussel Sprouts as they will taste far better than anything that has been imported with air miles.

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Christmas Day Soup Suggestion: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup Recipe

Christmas Party Bites: Chocolate Eclairs Recipe

Christmas Chocolate Tart Cake Recipe

Christmas Mince Pies Recipe