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Malaysian roast turkey with lime and lemongrass stuffing

I don't remember when we started cooking turkey for Christmas but I have vivid childhood memories of running my tiny fingers over the bones and picking off bits of delicious meat. Perhaps it was during the days when my mother worked as a cook for the British, perhaps it was for friends and neighbours who dropped by when service was over in the Chinese restaurant we had. I do, however, remember we brined our turkeys to make them moist, as free-range birds in the tropics were rather chewy. I also remember that we ate the turkey with Indian achars, pickles - sometimes cranberry sauce - roast vegetables, potato salad, beef rendang and lots of salads. You will need to begin this recipe a day and half ahead.

Ingredients

For the brine

  • 8 litres water
  • 250g sea salt
  • 200g sugar
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • For the sauce
  • 125ml chicken stock
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 tbsp brandy (optional)

For the turkey

  • 1 x 4kg turkey
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • 100g butter
  • salt and pepper
  • 500ml dry white wine
  • 250ml chicken stock

For the stuffing

  • 100g softened butter
  • 250g bread crumbs
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage or rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped
  • 2 tbsp lime zest
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • 150g cooked chestnuts, coarsely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

For the brine: Make this first. Bring everything to the boil in a large stockpot. Simmer for 5 minutes and remove from the heat, cool and refrigerate. Submerge turkey in the cold brine and refrigerate for 24 hours. A couple of hours before roasting, remove turkey from brine and pat dry with kitchen paper.

For the stuffing: Melt butter over medium-low heat and add onion and herbs. Saute until onion is soft and translucent and tip into a large bowl. Add remaining ingredients, transfer to a bowl and leave to cool completely. Spoon stuffing into turkey cavity and truss legs with cotton twine.

For the turkey: Preheat oven to 180C. Scatter onion and a few bay leaves from the brine on roasting dish. Place turkey on top of the onions breast side up and rub with butter, salt and pepper to taste.

Pour wine and stock into dish and cover breast with foil. Roast for 1 hour, basting frequently. Top up with more stock, water or wine to stop juices from drying. Remove foil and cook, basting now and then, for another 20-30 minutes or until golden brown. Pierce thigh with a thin skewer to test whether turkey is cooked - juices should run clear.

Remove turkey and onion from roasting dish. Cover loosely with foil and rest for in a warm place for 10 minutes. Spoon off any excess fat and put roasting dish on stove on medium heat and add stock and brandy, if using. Stir to deglaze and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until reduced to a rich sauce. Season to taste and strain into sauce jug.

Carve turkey and serve with onion and your favourite roast vegetables.

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