The Christmas Turkey

Before Christmas I shared a guest post by Ben De Jonge about how to prepare the Christmas turkey.

Now I’d like to share with you my results of preparing a turkey.

We ordered a 4kg turkey from our favourite butcher in Perth a couple of weeks before Christmas and picked it up on December 23, to give us a couple of days to brine it.

I followed a bringing recipe from a cookbook I picked up at at Elizabeth’s Books – a second hand book store –  called (I’m a little embarrassed to say), Nigella’s Christmas by Nigella Lawson.

The recipe – the brine 

Nigella’s is below – and into a massive pot we added:

  • large orange, quartered
  • 1 cup salt
  • 3 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 bouquet garni (well, I just threw in some parsley, thyme, basil, bay leaves, and sage – what I  had growing in the garden!)
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (I skipped these because I didn’t have any)
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 2 tablespoons allspice berries (I used ground allspice as it’s what I had)
  • 4 star anise
  • 2 tablespoons white mustard seeds (used yellow ones)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 unpeeled onions, quartered
  • 1/4 cup honey

We filled the pot half way with water and then lowered the turkey in, topping up the water until it reached the top. We covered it and put it in the fridge in the garage. The next day, we turned the turkey and I have to say that when we opened the lid to the pot, I was hit by the beautiful aromas of all those herbs and spices – I couldn’t wait to cook the bird!

Christmas Turkey1

We cooked the turkey on the rotisserie on our Weber kettle – Zorba prepared the coals, added soaked apple wood chips to the bottom of the BBQ and we used a meat thermometre to check the temperature. Our butcher suggested it would take three hours, but it was done in two. We basted it with a melted butter and maple syrup mix every 30 minutes.

We let it rest, breast side down, for 45 minutes covered loosely in foil.

The result

The turkey was the best we’ve ever cooked and best we’ve ever eaten. It was juicy, tender, and there was a real smokey flavour in the skin. The skin – as you can see below – it was glossy, going a gorgeous golden brown colour and was crisp. An impressive Christmas turkey was enjoyed by just three of us for lunch, and eight of us had it cold for dinner.  As Neville wrote on Travelletto’s Facebook page –

“forget Nigelissima, this looks ‘Bortolicious’!” 

(my last name is Bortoletto – very clever Neville!)


My mouth is watering just thinking about it.


Photo from the Daily Mail

Photo from the Daily Mail

From Nigella’s same cookbook, I made a Panettone and Italian sausage stuffing that was cooked separately in a tray in the oven.

Her recipe was published by the Daily Mail online – here’s the link.

This required a bit of forward planning to make as there’s a few steps involved, but it’s dead-easy and not technical at all.

The taste was fantastic – the sweet panettone mixed with spicy Italian sausage was a winning combination. I’d make this again – if I ever decide to eat wheat again (see previous post).

I also made an Ottolenghi beetroot salad with maple dressing, and green beans and snow peas with orange and hazelnut, both from this original cookbook called Ottolenghi. And roast potatoes and carrots.

It’s terrible that we ate it all and didn’t take any photos for you – I’m sorry.

Desert – well of course that was Tiramisu. The best ever tiramisu recipe is here.

A distant memory

The feast that was Christmas is all but a memory now. A new healthier me won’t be eating panettone or tiramisu for a while, and that’s okay. But that turkey – we’ll be doing that again for sure.

How was your Christmas feast? Are you glad Christmas is over or do you love all the effort that comes with making a Christmas meal memorable?

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