Stuff the turkey this Christmas – yes, literally, with this marvellous Mary Berry festive stuffing. It's made with lemon, thyme and pork sausagemeat and is a wonderful accompaniment to the traditional Christmas bird.
Mary says: "This is a favourite family recipe, served every Christmas for as long as I can remember. This is the stuffing for the neck end of the turkey: do not put a meat stuffing in the body cavity of a bird. The quantities below make sufficient to stuff a 7.2kg-8.1kg turkey in the neck end."
But first of all, a word about which turkey to choose.
According to those in the know (including this article), the finest turkeys in the land are bred by Tom Copas.
The write-up says 73-year-old Tom's birds 'spend their lives roaming in cherry orchards, mountaineering up straw bales or scratching in patches of maize over 72 acres of farmland. They are grown to full maturity (26 weeks), which means that, unlike a turkey slaughtered in its youth, they have put on a layer of fat in the final weeks and become a self-basting, extremely flavoursome bird'.
The latter of which is most definitely true. Compared to other turkeys we've tried and tasted in Housedad Towers, the flesh was more dense, particularly the thighs and drumsticks. The breast meat was pure white, and quite moist (though still drier than chicken).
And the taste was superb: very flavoursome, bordering on gamey.
Cooked with Mary Berry's Lemon & Thyme Pork Stuffing and served with a gravy made from the juices from the bird and a stock made from the giblets, this will be a Christmas meal to remember.
For Mary Berry's Lemon & Thyme Stuffing
1 small onion, chopped
450g pork sausagemeat
50g fresh white breadcrumbs
Finely grated zest and juice of large lemon
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Leaves from 3 sprigs thyme
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and cook gently until soft, for about 10 minutes.
2. Stir in the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Cool before stuffing into the neck end of the bird.
To cook the turkey
1, Place the turkey, breast side down in a roasting tin. (Cooking breast side down until the last half hour keeps the breast meat succulent while the brown meat cooks evenly).
2. If stuffing your turkey, fill the neck cavity only and recalculate your total cooking time to include the extra weight of the stuffing. Stuffing can also be cooked separately, but we do not recommend stuffing the body cavity. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the turkey & cover with foil.
3. Pre-heat the oven to 230C (210C fan)/Gas 8. Cook your turkey at this temperature for the first 30 mins and then lower the oven temperature to 190C (170C fan)/Gas 5. Total cooking time will be approximately 30-35 mins per kg.
4. Approximately 30mins before the full cooking time, remove foil and turn the bird over carefully, using poultry forks, so the breast bronzes.
• Do not overcook your turkey - it should be moist & succulent. It will be ready when the juices run clear when tested with a fork (plunge into the deepest part of the thigh or breast), or when your pop-up cooking timer has popped! If using a thermometer, the internal cooked temperature will be 74C.
To make Pigs in Blankets
8 long rashers of dry-cured streaky bacon
24 cocktail sausages
1. Preheat the oven to 190C (170C fan)/Gas 5. Stretch each rasher with the back of a knife and cut into three.
2. Wrap a piece of bacon tightly around each sausage, and place around the turkey for the last 30 mins of cooking time.
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