- 6 (400g) middle rashers bacon, rind removed, cut into 5mm strips
- 4 medium (600g) brown onions, chopped
- 200 gram packet dried mediterranean apricots, chopped
- 2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 650 gram loaf three-day-old bread, crusts removed
- 2/3 cup (90g) slivered almonds, toasted
- 100 gram butter, melted, approximately
- 6 kilogram (size 60) turkey
- 1 cup (250ml) chicken stock, approximately
- mixed fresh herbs or watercress, to serve
- 1/4 cup (35g) cornflour
- 2 cup (500ml) apricot nectar
- 2 cup (500ml) chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1Preheat oven to 180°C (160°C fan-forced).
- 2Make apricot and almond stuffing: Cook the bacon in a large frying pan over medium heat, stirring, until golden brown. Add the onion; cook, stirring, until it is soft but not coloured. Add ½ cup water, apricots and thyme; cook, stirring, until the water evaporates. Transfer to a large bowl; cool slightly.
- 3Process the bread to a very coarse crumb, about the size of a fingernail.
- 4Add the breadcrumbs to the onion mixture with nuts; season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add enough of the melted butter to bring the stuffing together. Sit stuffing aside.
- 5Rinse the cavity of the turkey inside and out; pat dry with paper towel. Place some of the stuffing in the neck cavity; pull the skin down and secure with a skewer or toothpick. Loosely fill the main cavity with stuffing; tie legs together and tuck wings under body. Place the turkey into a large baking dish. Brush with a little melted butter.
- 6Roast turkey, uncovered, for 4 hours or until cooked when tested (see Julie's tip).
- 7As juices collect in the baking dish, spoon or brush them over the breast. Pour out excess juices and reserve if they are not browning towards the end of cooking time; the pan juices need to have some colour for a good sauce. If parts of the turkey start to colour too quickly, cover them with greased foil.
- 8Transfer the turkey to a large platter; cover with foil. Turkey can stand in a warm place while the potatoes are roasting. Reserve the baking dish and pan juices for sauce.
- 9Meanwhile, pile the extra stuffing into a shallow ovenproof dish. Drizzle the stuffing with any remaining butter and a little of the reserved turkey pan juices. Bake stuffing on separate shelf with turkey for 30-40 minutes or until crunchy and golden.
- 10Make apricot sauce: Place the baking dish with ½ cup of the turkey pan juices on the stove over a low heat. Add the cornflour and use a wooden spoon to stir through the juices, scraping up the baked-on brown bits. Start adding the apricot nectar, ¼ cup at a time, allowing the sauce to boil and thicken between additions. Add the stock in the same way. Stir in the sugar and vinegar; simmer, uncovered, for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency. Taste and add salt and ground white pepper, if needed.
- 11Serve turkey with herbs, stuffing and apricot sauce.
Not suitable to freeze or microwave. The night before cooking your turkey, I recommend brining it. This causes some kind of wonderful chemical reaction, which keeps the breast beautifully moist. To brine the turkey, mix 2 cups salt and 4 cups of sugar in a tub of cold water, about 8 litres – large enough for the turkey to be submerged. Stir to dissolve the salt and sugar. Put the turkey into the tub. Chances are it won't fit in the fridge. My trick is to freeze water in small ice-cream or takeaway containers, allowing some space for expansion, to make giant ice cubes. The ice cubes take ages to defrost, but keeping them topped up is effectively keeping the turkey refrigerated. Remove the turkey from the water at least an hour before cooking; pat it dry inside and out, and allow it to come to room temperature.
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