I hunted down the smallest turkey I could find, as we weren't having a huge party and half of the eight at dinner are vegetarian. It still seemed huge to me - but then I'm more accustomed to seeing roast chickens.
I didn't do much to it; cut a lemon in half and put that along with a bunch of sage into the cavity, tied the legs together, and smeared a little bit of butter under the skin on the breast (a step which feels pretty gross but which did make for deliciously crispy skin.
I put it in an oven bag to save our oven - I was pushing my luck with a medium bag, though, go for the large ones if you're doing a turkey! - tied it up, and popped it in the oven. For the first 20 minutes I cooked it at about 240 C - this makes the skin nice and crispy - and then turned it down to about 150 C. The general guideline is about 40 minutes per kilo (after the first 20 minutes), but the best way to tell if it's done is with a meat thermometer - the breast meat should be 75-80 C. These are only about $30 from kitchen stores and I think are worth it if they stop you drying out your roast dinners "just to make sure" (plus you can use them for chocolate!). I would never want to undercook poultry - ew! - but it does lose its appeal pretty quickly when it gets overcooked.
I actually ended up cooking this too much - I was a bit distracted and not focussing on the turkey - but it was reasonably good, and I was happy with everything except the cooking time.
I was in such a hurry to get it on the table I didn't get a photo of the cooked bird - but you can see how awesomely crispy the skin is. The bag said the turkey was enough for 8-10 people, and the four omnivores between us got through about half of it, so that seems pretty accurate - and now we have some for sandwiches, yum!
We had quite a spread (and the best kind - everyone bringing a dish makes for a relatively easy but very generous feed), and were all feeling pretty full by the end of it.
Sally and Charles made a delicious pumpkin lasagne, as a sort of vegetarian twist on the Thanksgiving feast, and also brought a salad which was very welcome, as the only green veg on the table. Sylvia made gorgeous wee tarts which were largely gobbled up before I got near them with the camera - they were definitely well-liked!
The award for weirdest dish goes to Oakley and Fred, who made what is apparently an iconic American Thanksgiving dish. The dish consists of kumara (well, American sweet potato - slightly different but close enough), a syrup including maple syrup and brown sugar, and then, when it's all cooked through it's topped with marshmallows (often apparently of a spreadable variety but marshmallow all the same) and cooked again until it's all melty and good.
Except good would be a particularly subjective term in this case. I had some, despite being entirely apprehensive, and it was okay - but I didn't at all like it mingling with my turkey. As a dessert, maybe - but not on my dinner plate, thanks very much!
What do you think - do marshmallows ever have a place with savoury food? Would you be willing to give this dish a try or would you steer clear altogether?
Turkey with Sage & Onion Stuffing
Turkey - size to suit your gathering
bunch of sage
2 Tbsp butter, softened
Stuffing (serves 6-8 people - multiply recipe to suit)
bunch of sage
4 slices of bread
salt and pepper, to taste
Calculate your cooking time by multiplying 40 (minutes) by the weight in kg of your turkey, then adding 20. E.g. for a 3kg turkey 40 x 3 = 120 + 20 = 140 minutes, or 2 hours 20 minutes, plus 15-20 minutes to rest when cooked. .
Preheat the oven to 240 C. Cut the lemon in half and stuff both halves and the sage into the cavity of the turkey. Separate the skin from the breast of the bird and smear the butter in between to ensure a crispy skin. Tie the legs together and place in a large oven bag. Put into a roasting dish and place in the oven.
After 20 minutes, reduce the temperature to 150 C.
For the stuffing, place the onion and sage into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add bread, egg, salt and pepper and pulse to combine. Form into a log or balls and place on a tray.
When a thermometer inserted into the breast of the turkey reads 75-80 C remove from the oven. Put the stuffing in the oven. Rest the meat for 15 minutes, then carve and place on a warmed serving plate. Remove the stuffing and cut into slices. Serve immediately.