Cooking the Christmas Turkey

- Advertisement -

tegel roast turkey


It is wonderful at Christmas to take the time to enjoy some  traditional pleasures such as the Roast Turkey Christmas Dinner.  I love continuing traditions that my children will then take away with them, in our house a turkey is as essential as pavlova, chocolates Christmas crackers and cherries.
A roast turkey looks magnificent on the table and sets the scene for a delicious Christmas feast.

Selecting and Thawing Turkey

First up, do make sure you buy a turkey that will not only cater for your number of guests but will also fit into your oven. Ovens do vary in size and if yours is on the smaller then make sure you choose a bird that will fit.

Turkeys take time to thaw so once you have made your selection then defrost your bird  in the fridge (or a chilly bin with ice packs that you replace) for 2 days.


Turkey Cooking

1. Take the turkey out of the fridge at least 2 hours before roasting. This is to take the chill from the meat which will help the meat to cook evenly.  It will also help the skin to dry which is good for colour and crispness.

2.  Calculate your cooking time. The turkey will need about 20 minutes per 450g plus an extra 25 minutes at the end of calculated time.  Preheat the oven to 180°C (375 F)

3.  Remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavity.

4.  Prepare the stuffing and insert into both the main cavity and also into the neck flap.  Secure the cavities with skewers.
While a trussed turkey looks neat and tidy, we think the legs cook faster and get even crisp skin by leaving the bird untied.

5.  Sit the turkey in a roasting dish and if you wish to add extra fat then either completely cover the bird with a layer of buttered muslin or drape with streaky bacon.
Remember that Tegel turkeys are tender basted meaning the meat remains moist and tender.

6.  Roast the bird for the required time, to check if it is cooked insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh.  If the juices run clear then the turkey is cooked.

7.  Remove the muslin and rest the turkey with a tent of aluminium foil for about 20 minutes.  While the bird is resting you can make the gravy.

8.  Carve the turkey exactly the same way you would carve a chicken.

Turkey Stuffing

The choices of stuffing for turkey are endless and very much depend on your personal preference.
Some of us like something fruity with cranberry or apricot while others very much want the richness of a sausage meat type stuffing with spices and herbs.

Turkey goes particularly well with; sage, bacon, pork sausage, cranberries, apricot, garlic, onions, butter, garlic, oregano, parsley, celery, lemon, yoghurt, sage, rosemary, thyme, pistachio, orange…..

Pork and Fennel Turkey StuffingThis year my stuffing of choice is Pork Sausage with Walnuts and Cranberry. It is full of flavour and also has great texture.
Some other favourites include;

Mediterranean Turkey Stuffing with the exotic flavour of chorizo, mushrooms, grains and pine nuts.

Pork with Fennel and Apple is probably my all time favourite stuffing, I always like the combination of pork and fennel seeds and the apple adds a fresh touch.

Greek Style Turkey Stuffing with a slight tang of yoghurt and fresh vibrant herbs is fabulous for our hot summer Christmas.


Leftover Turkey

Leftover cooked turkey should be refrigerated as quickly as possible and then can be used in a variety of recipes over the next few days.  Some of our favourites include;]Mexican turkey salad

Mexican Style Turkey Salad
Serves 4
Fresh,light and healthy, this salad is perfect following on from a day or two of festive eating.

2 corn cobs*
1 tablespoon oil
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
2 large handfuls rocket
1 red onion, finely sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup coriander leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper[/lgc_column]

1. Strip husks from the corn, brush with oil and then barbecue or cook on a hot plate until the corn starts to colour and get dark brown flecks.

2. Remove the corn from the heat and when cool enough to handle scrape the kernels from the cob using the back of a heavy knife.

3. Combine the turkey, rocket, onion, tomatoes, corn, avocado and coriander on a platter or salad bowl.

4. Drizzle with combined oil, lime juice and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.*If fresh corn cobs are not available you can use frozen.

turkey pot pie


Turkey Pot Pie
Serves 4
Pot Pies are quick, easy and a family favourite.

50g butter
2 leeks, trimmed, halved and finely sliced
100g frozen spinach, roughly chopped
1 cup frozen peas
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups chicken stock
½ cup cream
2 cups of sliced cooked chicken
1 sheet frozen puff pastry (approx 185g)
egg yolk or milk to glaze

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan bake.

2. Melt the butter in a large frying pan and gently cook the leeks until tender.  Add the spinach, peas and thyme and cook a further few minutes.

3.  Add the flour and cook gently stirring for a couple of minutes before adding the stock and cream, let the mixture boil and thicken.

4.  Mix the chicken into the vegetable mixture and then mound the filling into a 4-cup capacity deep pie dish

5.  Cover the pie dish with pastry, trimming as needed to form a neat lid across the base.  Brush the pastry with egg yolk or milk to glaze.

6.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the pastry is puffed and golden.

]vietnamese turkey salad (1)

Vietnamese Style Turkey Salad
Serves 4
The elegant flavours of Vietnam are a lovely way to absorb left over turkey.

2 tablespoons each: lemon or lime juice, fish sauce, water
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1-2 teaspoons chilli paste
½ teaspoon sugar

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 cups chopped cooked turkey meat
3-4 handfuls salad leaf mix
1/2 cup mung bean sprouts
1/4 cup each: coriander, mint, basil leaves
2 tablespoons each: sesame seeds, lightly toasted and roasted peanuts, roughly chopped[/lgc_column]

1.Combine the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl or jug and set aside.

2. Toss the onion, turkey, leaves, bean sprouts, coriander, mint, basil, sesame seeds and peanuts together in a large bowl or platter.

3. Drizzle with dressing and serve.

]turkey fritatta (1)

Turkey, Capsicum, Goats’ Cheese and Basil Frittata
Serves 4
Great for brunch, lunch or a casual dinner, frittatas are easy to make. This one makes the most of summer fare.

2 capsicum (red, green or yellow) chopped into 2-3cm chunks
1 red onion, diced
1 heaped cup chopped cooked turkey
10 eggs
¾ cup grated parmesan cheese
100g goats’ cheese
1 tomato, diced
handful fresh basil leaves[/lgc_column]

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Heat a film of oil in a large (28cm) frypan and cook capsicum and onion until tender.

3. Switch the oven setting to grill.

4. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Pour the egg into the frypan and then quickly add the vegetables, turkey and parmesan cheese.

6. Cook until the frittata is almost set. Transfer the pan to the oven and grill until the top is puffed and golden.

7. Sprinkle the warm frittata with goats’ cheese, tomato and basil leaves.
Serve warm or at room temperature.

Turkey taco_01 (1)
Turkey Tacos
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups finely shredded red or green cabbage
½ red onion, finely chopped
¼ cup coriander leaves
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted
¼ cup aioli
1 cup shredded cooked turkey
8 small soft tacos
1 lime/lemon, chopped into wedges

1. Combine the cabbage, red onion and coriander leaves in a bowl.  Drizzle over the aioli and toss to combine.

2. Warm tacos on a hot plate or sandwich press and serve with slaw, turkey and wedge of lime or lemon.

Delicious and Simple ways of using up leftover turkey include:

  • Topping a pizza base with turkey, cranberry sauce and brie.  Bake just until the base is crisp and then top with fresh rocket leaves.  A great way to use lots of Christmas leftovers.
    If you don’t have pizza bases on hand then use the same flavour combination in a toasted sandwich.
  • Turkey and Vegetable Hash is a fabulous Boxing Day breakfast.  Simple chop leftover roast vegetables such as potato, onion, kumara and pumpkin. Heat in a frying pan with a film of oil, a dash of paprika, salt and ground black pepper.  Once edges start to crisp then add chopped turkey to the pan and toss until piping hot.  Serve with a poached egg on top and a sprinkle of chopped parsley.
  • For a Middle Eastern flavour toss chopped roasted beetroot, toasted pistachio nuts,  rocket leaves with shredded cooked turkey then drizzle with a yoghurt, cumin, mint and garlic dressing.
  • Fried Rice is easy to make and family friendly.  Simply add chopped turkey to your usual recipe as the meat component.
  • Love Caesar Salad?  How about making a turkey Caesar, with bacon as well of course…



How do you use up leftover roast turkey?

turkey with pork and walnut stuffing



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

2 thoughts on “Cooking the Christmas Turkey

  1. Hi, It has been years since I have had turkey and, if I was lucky enough to win I would head to Food Lovers for cooking and leftover recipes. Such an excellent web site. Cheers. R.