Recipe: Roast turkey for Christmas

MERRY CHRISTMAS: Roast turkey basted with cream.
MERRY CHRISTMAS: Roast turkey basted with cream.

In New Zealand we get only one chance a year to eat turkey.

Imagine the poor turkey producers having to stockpile throughout the year. There are really only three turkey producers in New Zealand. The largest is Tegel, based in Taranaki, and mostly their birds are sold pre-brined and basted.

Crozier's in Ashburton and Canter Valley in Sefton are smaller producers - both brands are available in some supermarkets, and both are sold without the additives. 

Tegel have devised the pre-brining and basting to assist in achieving moist turkey meat when cooked.  

Many home cooks really appreciate this help.

In this turkey recipe, I prefer to use non-brined turkey, because moist meat is achieved by basting the bird with cream. The cream will penetrate the flesh but also slightly caramelise on the turkey skin, giving the bird a lovely flavour. 

If you are planning turkey for Christmas dinner and have not ordered it already, make sure you do so as soon as possible. That way you will buy the size you desire and may be lucky to score a fresh, as opposed to a frozen, bird. 

Allow two to three days to thaw a frozen turkey in the fridge. If you thaw it out of the fridge, the bird's size means the thawed outer meat will exceed an acceptable food hygiene temperature before the inner meat thaws.


This stuffing doesn't have egg in it, which allows the turkey to be stuffed up to two days ahead. Accompany this turkey with boiled new potatoes tossed in extra virgin olive oil with chopped French tarragon. Serve with leafy green salad and/or simply cooked green beans or asparagus.

600g (1) sourdough loaf, crusts removed
Roasted Garlic (see below)
90ml (6 Tbsp) olive oil
1 Tbsp roughly chopped rosemary leaves
1 x 3.5kg turkey, washed in cold water and dried
1 tsp flaky sea salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
250ml (1 cup) cream
250ml (1 cup) turkey or chicken stock liquid
15ml (1 Tbsp) balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 190°C

Cut sourdough into 12-16 chunky pieces and place in a bowl.

To make garlic oil, squeeze pulp from 12 cloves of Roasted Garlic and place in a small bowl. Mash with a fork, add olive oil and rosemary and combine.

Using a pastry brush, liberally brush the inside cavities of the turkey with the garlic oil and pour remainder over sourdough.  Mix sourdough and oil to combine and ensure sourdough has absorbed all the oil.

Season sourdough with salt and pepper.  

Stuff centre and neck cavities of turkey with the sourdough stuffing.

Fold wing tips onto the back of turkey and secure legs with cooking twine.  

Lightly grease a large roasting tray with additional olive oil.

Place turkey into the prepared roasting tray. Brush turkey all over with some of the cream. Turn oven down to 180ºC. Place turkey into oven to roast for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and baste with some more of the cream. Return to oven. Reduce temperature to 160ºC and roast turkey for a further 1½ hours, continuing to baste every 30 minutes, until turkey is cooked. 

To test, insert a metal skewer into the meaty part of the turkey and leave for 30 seconds. Remove skewer and if juices run clear and the tip of skewer is too hot to touch, the turkey is cooked.

Warm a second roasting tray. Remove turkey to the warmed roasting tray, cover with aluminium foil, and leave to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.

To make jus, place the roasting tray that the turkey was cooked in over a medium heat. Pour in the stock. Stir to combine and remove all baked-on bits off the base of the tray.  Bring to the boil and simmer to reduce by a third. Season jus to taste with additional salt and pepper and balsamic vinegar. Pour into a warmed serving jug. Present turkey on a platter and carve. Accompany with the jus.


Use in salad dressings or simply spread onto barbecued bread and drizzle with olive oil. 

3 heads of garlic
Thyme sprig
1 Tbsp olive oil
½ tsp flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 180ºC.

Place a small pot of water on to a high heat and bring to the boil.  

Trim top quarter off the whole garlic heads to expose cloves.  Place heads into pot and cook for 10 minutes.  

Drain and discard loose skin. 

Puncture sides and top with a fork. Place into a ceramic dish with thyme and drizzle with oil.  Sprinkle with salt. Place into oven. Roast for 40 minutes or until cloves begin popping out of skins.

Cool garlic and refrigerate for up to one week.  When ready to use, squeeze garlic out of skin.

The Dominion Post