When I was growing up we always had a hot roast turkey on Christmas Day. It didn’t matter if it was a heatwave with temperatures over 40C (104F), (as it often was), there were no cold-cuts on our Christmas table.
One year my father thought we should try something a little different and that meant with him helping out. Not in the kitchen, but at the bar-be-cue. He had just purchased a kamado cooker and was very proud of it, thinking it looked very stylish down at the bottom of the garden.
He told us the kamado cooker could do many things and in fact we would almost never need to use the oven again. This new ‘appliance’ could roast, BBQ, bake and smoke food – it could even cook an osso bucco.
So armed with enthusiasm we let dad cook the much-anticipated turkey in the kamado cooker. Mum had stuffed the cavity of the bird with a bread-based stuffing and pushed a fruity stuffing into the neck. Into the wonder-gadget it went while we got on with the business of enjoying a pre-dinner drink while listening to The King’s College Choir belt out some Christmas carols on the record player.
After the record had been turned over, and over and over a few more times, we could see smoke ascending from the kamado. My father rushed to his appliance and behold, inside was a very, very black bird.
The kamado was never again trusted with the prized Christmas turkey and a few years later when my parents moved house, the kamado didn’t make it onto the truck.
Here are three turkey stuffing recipes that are simple and easy and can be made ahead of time. I usually make mine the day before required as they’re perfectly fine to sit in the fridge overnight. There is a bread-based stuffing, a rice-based stuffing and a stuffing made with quinoa. The bread-based stuffing can easily be gluten-free just by substituting wheat bread with GF bread.
And when it comes to making your own breadcrumbs, don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor. Dare I mention again that I don’t have one? Christmas is coming! To make your own breadcrumbs without a food processor simply cut up your bread (I don’t bother removing the crusts) and place on an oven tray in a single layer. Place in an oven pre-heated to 180C (375F) for 15 minutes then when cool, place in a zip-lock bag and bash with a rolling pin. The result doesn’t have the finesse of bread whizzed in a food processor, it looks more rustic but it’s easy to do and bashing things with a rolling pin is always very therapeutic.
All these recipes are for a 5-6kg (11-13lb) turkey.
Walnut and Sage Stuffing
- 2/3 cup melted butter
- 1 cup chopped green celery leaves
- 12-16 chopped shallots
- 8 cups stale breadcrumbs
- 2 cups walnuts
- 2 tbspns chopped sage (or 2 tspns dried sage)
- 2 tspns nutmeg
- 2 tspns salt
- 2 tspns freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbspns sherry or madeira
Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add butter, celery leaves and shallots. Cook until softened and golden. Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
This recipe has been adapted from a recipe my mother found in a Gretta Anna cookbook. We’ve used this recipe for years and it’s a great way to make sure celery leaves aren’t gone to waste. I believe Gretta’s cookbooks are sadly, no longer available.
Apple and Apricot Stuffing
- 1/3 cup diced dried apricots
- 30g (1.5 ounces) butter
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 sticks celery, chopped
- 1 green apple, chopped
- 500g sausage mince
- 2 cups cooked long grain rice
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 bunch thyme leaves
- 1 tbspn sherry
Place dried apricots in a bowl and pour boiling water over. Allow to soak for 15 minutes then drain and place in a large bowl.
Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add butter to pan and when melted add onion, celery and apple. Cook for 2 minutes then add to apricots.
Place sausage mince in frying pan and cook until just changed colour. Add to apricot mixture along with remaining ingredients and stir well. Season.
This recipe has been adapted from a recipe found in The Australian Women’s Weekly Celebration Cookbook and it’s one I probably use every year.
Preserved Lemon and Pine Nut Stuffing
- 1 cup currants
- 3 cups cooked quinoa (1 cup pre-cooked quinoa)
- 60gm (2oz) butter
- 3 onions, finely chopped
- 1 cup pine nuts, roasted
- 3 preserved lemons (3/4 of a lemon), rinsed, flesh discarded, peel thinly sliced
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 1 bunch of continental parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup sherry
Place currants in a small bowl and pour boiling water over. Allow to sit for 15 minutes then drain and place in a large bowl. Add cooled quinoa to the bowl. Melt butter in a medium-sized frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until softened, about 15 minutes. Pour onions into bowl and add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Season.
Remember that stuffing will expand during the cooking process so don’t over-stuff the bird or the legs may pop off!
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