There’s no lack of passionate foodies at Tallis Wine which is probably no surprise as a good wine can enhance a dish to perfection. Every Christmas Tanya Caruana (T2) is a source of inspiration to us with her menu ideas. Could be that Italian blood but she’s as close anyone here to Nigella both in looks and soulful food. When Christmas is at the Caruana’s you can bet roast turkey stuffed with Italian sausage, cranberries and macadamias will be on the menu.
Brine your turkey a day or so in advance of cooking. Once you’ve tried turkey prepared in this way you will never do it any other way. The turkey becomes incredibly tender, super juicy and a breeze to carve.
For the brining: 1 turkey (approx. 5.5kg/12lb) 250 gram sea salt flakes 3 tablespoons black peppercorns 1 bouquet garni 1 cinnamon stick 1 tablespoon(s) allspice 4 star anise 200 grams caster sugar 2 onions, unpeeled and quartered Approximately 6 litres water 4 tablespoons maple syrup 4 tablespoon honey 1 bunch parsley stalks Fresh ginger, approx 6cm long unpeeled cut into 6 pieces
- Fill a large cooking pot or plastic tub with the water and add remaining ingredients except the turkey. Stir well to combine the salt, sugar, syrup and honey.
- Remove the giblets from the turkey if not already done, then add the bird to the liquid, topping up with more water if it is not completely submerged.
- Cover and put in the fridge overnight or for up to a day or two. One to two hours before putting it in the oven, remove from the brine and pat dry with paper towel.
For the stuffing: 1 kilogram Italian sausages 200 grams pork mince 3 large cloves garlic, crushed 2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped 4 cups of sourdough or Turkish bread, cut into 2cm chunks 3 cups baby spinach leaves 150 grams dried cranberries 100 grams macadamias 1 bunch chopped parsley including stalks 3 teaspoon fresh sage chopped 2 tablespoon(s) olive oil 4 tablespoon goose or duck fat
- Remove the turkey from the fridge an hour or two before roasting to allow to come to room temperature.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Squeeze the sausage meat out of its skins. Add to a pan over a medium heat with the olive oil and garlic and using a wooden fork or spatula turn in the pan until the meat loses its pinkness, breaking it up as you go. This will take about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Repeat with the pork mince including the shallots with the pork and set aside to cool.
- Place your turkey on a board with the neck towards you. Find the edge of the skin that's covering the turkey's breasts and gently peel it back. Work your fingers and then your hand under the skin, freeing it from the meat. If you're careful you should be able to pull all the skin away from the meat, keeping it attached at the sides. Go slowly and try not to make any holes! Lift the loose skin at the neck end and spoon half the sausage mince and garlic mixture between the skin and the breast, tucking the flap of skin underneath to prevent leaking out.
- To a large bowl combine the remaining sausage meat and garlic, pork mince and shallots, cranberries, macadamias, bread and herbs. Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper. Fill the cavity of the bird with the stuffing and use butchers twine to sew closed the cavity.
- Smear the bird with goose or duck fat and season with salt and pepper. Tuck the wings under the bird and use foil to cover any bony areas to prevent them burning.
- Roast the turkey breast for 3 - 3½ hours. As a rough guide, cook the turkey for about 35 to 40 minutes per kilogram. Check on your turkey every 30 minutes or so and keep it from drying out by basting it with the lovely juices from the bottom of the pan.
- After 2½ hours, remove the foil so the skin gets golden and crispy. Alternatively stick a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the breast. When the internal temperature has reached 75ºC remove from the oven. Check that it is cooked by piercing the turkey with the point of a sharp knife where the meat is thickest, behind the knee joint of the thigh, if the juices that run out are clear then the turkey is cooked. If they are still pink then let the turkey have another 15-20 minutes in the oven and test again. After the turkey has been removed from the oven leave to rest under foil for at least 20 minutes before serving.
Accompaniments: Serve with lightly roasted baby carrots and beetroot, polenta coated roast potatoes and green beans sauted with flaked almonds to make your Christmas table perfect.Tanya's recommended wines to accompany her roast turkey is the Tallis Dookie Hills Riesling 2012 or Sangiovese 2008.