Before me lies a big naked bird. A somewhat hairy bird that seems to need a bit of pampering to get going. I look around the kitchen to find a tool to remove the remnants of it’s feathers, find a big tweezer and start plucking. It’s really not much but I can’t imagine anyone wanting to have one of those big feather ends in their mouths. So that’s done… I carefully open the breast cavity and peer inside… It’s dark.
I hesitate; sticking my hand in a dead cold bird is not my idea of a fun time. Yes, yes, I know I’ve done worse then that, but there are just some things I would rather prefer not doing, if it was up to me. So I call Tom. He laughs at me for being too ‘chicken’ to get my hand in there and then proceeds in cleaning the turkey on the inside. Not that there is anything to clean, the bird is empty on the inside. We wash the heavy monster, dry it and put it back in the fridge without any coverings, as that is supposed to get a crisper skin while baking.
Sigh of relief; part one of mission cold turkey is completed.
On Christmas day the alarm goes off early and we head downstairs for a day in the kitchen. First remove the naked bird from the fridge and set aside to get to room temperature. Then we proceed with making the stuffing. We changed our opinions about twenty times in the past couple of days whether or not we should put the stuffing in or out. In the end it seemed to make sense to put it in so we didn’t have to worry about oven space and such. I got a lovely chestnut filling recipe from my friend Valerie from Love through the stomach so we started prepping that by cooking the chestnuts first.
The recipe said to cut the chestnuts on the flat side, then cook for 5 minutes, take out of the water and then remove the shell and skins while still hot.. Have you ever tried doing that yourself?? The chestnuts were hot and peeling away the hard shells sounds easier then it is, which the blisters on our thumbs proofed! I do know that next time we will probably buy them without shells! But we managed and I can tell you that the stuffing was delicious…
Before we actually put our turkey in the oven I watched about a dozen little YouTube videos on what is the best way to roast a big bird and I guess I can conclude that there is no best way to roast a turkey. There were so many different ways of doing it that we did get a little confused and just decided to go with what we knew. Our bird was about 5,5 kgs so we figured we would wrap it in bacon to keep it moist and then wrap in foil for the first few hours to prevent excessive browning. However, when I took it out of the oven to take a peek after two hours there was no browning at all! I should have known with our crappy oven that it was probably better to use no foil at all.
At this point we removed the foil and continued cooking the damn turkey (we also removed the bacon)… I can’t tell you how happy I am having a meat thermometer as I would have completely lost it if we didn’t know at least the meat was cooked at the right temperature! We took it out, left it to rest for quite some time as we were preparing and eating our starters in between too but I am happy to say that, while the skin was inedible, the turkey itself was delicious. The meat was juicy and tender and with my perfect cranberry sauce it was great.
We served our turkey with chestnut filling, mashed potatoes with celeriac and roasted vegetables.
As you can probably tell just by looking at the photo on the left cutting the turkey was not as easy as they made it look in the videos we watched either. Tom had the manly task of cutting the bird. I think we didn’t even eat half of the thing (we were with 5 people) so you can guess what we have for leftover dinner today…
I’m gonna give you the recipe for the chestnut filling. I changed a few minor things in the recipe as ofcourse I missed buying a few ingredients. It was fun making a turkey for the first time, and as with everything you learn while you go so I will know what not to do for next time!
Chestnut turkey stuffing
- 2lb chestnuts
- 2 cups butter
- 2 cups onion (chopped)
- 2 cups celery (chopped)
- 5 cups dried bread crumbs (I used panko)
- 5 cups bread (fresh or stale, chopped into medium size chunks)
- 3 teaspoons mediterrean herbs (The original recipe states 1 tsp each of thyme, rosemary, marjoran which i forgot to buy (I always use fresh normally) so I substituted with some other herbs I figured would go well and added some fresh in there for good measure))
- 2 teaspoons dried savory ((=bonenkruid in Dutch))
- fresh ground pepper
- chicken/poultry broth (to taste, if you bake it outside the turkey)
|With a sharp knife cut a cross on the flat side of each chestnut. Cook for 5 minutes.
While the chestnuts are still hot, remove the shells and skins. Cover with fresh water, then boil for 20 to 30 minutes until tender, then chop them and set aside.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in onions and celery (and optional garlic), and cook until tender. Mix in bread crumbs and bread. If the mixture looks a little dry, add some more butter. As soon as it's moist enough (no dry spots, not soaking) add the chestnuts and seasoning and mix in well. Add salt and pepper to taste.
|This step is only when you don't stuff the turkey, if you stuff, skip this! --- Add enough chicken broth or game or poultry fond to moisten the stuffing significantly. Place stuffing in casserole dish and bake in the oven until the top starts to get a little crispy (not too much, just to dry it out a little again and deepen the flavors).
If you do want to stuff your turkey, here it goes! Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
|Wash turkey with cold water, and pat dry. Rub salt and pepper on the inside of the bird. Loosely spoon stuffing into the turkey. Close skin with skewersor twine, and tie drumsticks together. Place turkey (on a rack if you have one large enough) in a roasting pan large enough to fit the entire bird. Place a foil tent over the turkey up until the last hour. Baste regularly.|
|Roast turkey 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours in the preheated oven, until internal temperature of thigh reaches 180 degrees F (80 degrees C) and stuffing reaches 165 degrees F (75 degrees C). If the skin starts to brown too much during that last hour before it reaches the right temperature, replace the tent until your turkey is fully cooked. REmove from oven and let it stand for 10-15 minutes before carving.|
We only followed the recipe for the stuffing and to enhance the flavor a little bit we did add some poultry fond into the chestnut mix to give it a little more flavor. The flavor changes after having been inside the bird but we liked the additional flavor.
Also I would recommend using precooked and peeled chestnuts as the peeling is a nightmare, but that's just my opinion! :)
Recipe from Love through the Stomach