Where I come from (Canada), we can usually count on getting to eat a roast turkey feast three times a year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter. Here in Australia, we don’t have Thanksgiving and Christmas is often too hot to have the oven cranked for several hours, so that leaves Easter. Turkey just so happens to be a relatively easy meal to cook for a group, so why not gather your nearest and dearest this Easter weekend (or any other time, really) and share a roast bird?
One of my fondest memories of a meal with friends was an Easter dinner my best friend and I cooked three years ago. Here’s how we did it (thanks to step-by-step instructions from my dad):
If you’re going to stuff the turkey (which you absolutely should), the night before your feast, cube a loaf of unsliced bread and leave it on a baking sheet to dry out a bit.
If you’re using a frozen turkey (see below), you’ll need to thaw it well in advance. If you have room, you can do that in the fridge overnight; keep in mind that it takes approximately 24 hours for every 2 kilos of turkey. Or, on the day of, you can thaw it in a sink/tub of cold water. That will take approximately one hour for every kilo of turkey. Make sure you change the water every 30 minutes.
When cooking time is nigh, you’re ready to make stuffing. This is my dad’s classic recipe; for more ideas, see below.
Chop a large onion and set it aside. Melt a generous slab of butter in a saucepan, and add onions. Saute until onions are soft.
In a large mixing bowl, mix bread cubes, butter/onion, salt and pepper, and a generous amount (at least 2 tablespoons) of sage. The stuffing needs to be moist, so add milk as needed to moisten. Add just a bit at a time; you want it just moist enough that it sticks together when you make a ball.
Once the turkey is thawed, remove the giblets bag from inside the turkey. Thoroughly wash the turkey inside and out, and pat dry. Place turkey in roaster.
Stuff the bird with bread etc. mixture into the cavity of the turkey. You can really jam it in; if there’s some poking out, that’s just fine.
Tie the legs together with butcher’s string if you have it, or unflavoured dental floss if you don’t. Rub the skin of the turkey with softened butter. If you are of the Julia Child You-Can-Never-Have-Too-Much-Butter school (like I am), you can also gently lift the skin of the turkey and put slabs of butter underneath. This will keep the meat moist while it roasts. Add 1/4 cup of water to the roaster, cover with (buttered) aluminium foil, and place in preheated 175-degree (Celsius) oven.
While it’s cooking, you can baste the turkey with the juices in the roaster. This will also help keep the turkey moist, but will prolong cooking time. About an hour before the turkey is done (check out this infographic
to figure out approximately how long it will take), remove cover to allow the skin to get brown and crispy.
The best way to know your turkey is done is to use a meat thermometer. You want the temperature to be at least 73 degrees Celsius in three places: the innermost part of the thigh, the thickest part of the breast, and under the wing. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, slice deep into the thigh with a sharp knife; if the juices run clear, the turkey’s ready. You can also tell that it’s done when the drumsticks are loose.
Remove the turkey from the oven and let stand for 30 to 40 minutes before carving. You can use this time to make gravy: put the turkey drippings in a pot or frying pan and bring to a bowl. Add a couple of OXO cubes (beef or chicken). Add more sage. Thicken with a flour/warm water mixture (mix separately in a cup until mixture is smooth). Stir this mixture into the drippings gradually until the gravy is desired thickness. Add salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning to taste.
Carve the turkey (here’s how
), and serve with cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, and seasonal vegetables (I generally ask my friends to bring those, but you can also prep and cook while the turkey is roasting and standing).
Here are some ideas for sides to serve with your turkey:
And if the traditional stuffing above isn’t adventurous enough for you, there are plenty of ways to shake it up:
And one final note: the best part of hosting a turkey dinner is the leftovers.
Happy Easter! We at Eat With Me
hope you get to enjoy an Easter feast with some great people this long weekend.