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Recipe Test: Christmas Roast Turkey


Christmas Marmalade Glazed Roast Turkey, with apricot couscous stuffing
Serves 8
Cooking time: 5 hours 


  • 4.5-5kg turkey (approx 10lbs)

  • 1 cup apricot marmalade (orange is fine too)

  • 100g butter

  • 1 orange, squeezed

  • 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 5 rosemary sprigs

  • Unwaxed white kitchen string

Apricot couscous stuffing

  • 380g (2 cups) couscous

  • 500ml (2 cups) boiling water

  • 70g butter

  • 2 yellow onions, halved and finely chopped

  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1 orange, zest grated

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 150g (1 cup) dried apricots, roughly chopped

  • 150g (1 cup) pistachio kernels, finely chopped

  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh continental parsley

  • 3 eggs, lightly whisked

Here’s what to do:

  1. Place the marmalade, butter, orange juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper in a bowl, and mix until well combined.

  2. Preheat oven to 200°C. To prepare a whole turkey for roasting, remove excess fat, giblets and neck from the turkey. Rinse the turkey briefly under cold water, then pat dry inside and out using paper towel. Tuck the wings under.

  3. Run your finger under the skin of each breast at the top to loosen the skin. Then spread half the glaze over each breast; put the remaining half aside for later.

  4. Make the apricot couscous stuffing by placing the couscous in a large heatproof bowl. Pour over the boiling water while stirring with a fork. Cover and set aside for 10 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Use a fork to separate the grains and fluff it up.

  5. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat until foaming. Add the onion, garlic, orange zest, rosemary and cumin and cook, stirring, for five minutes or until the onion softens. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside for 15 minutes to cool.

  6. Stir the onion mixture, apricots, pistachios and parsley into the couscous. Add the egg and stir to combine. Stuff the couscous mixture into the turkey cavity, pulling the skin over to enclose. Use unwaxed white kitchen string to tie the turkey legs and plug any open areas with silver foil.

  7. Fill the turkey cavity with stuffing. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and cover with rosemary sprigs.

  8. Brush the turkey with the remaining glaze. Place the turkey breast side down on a wire rack in a roasting pan. Cover with foil. Pour 1 cup of water into pan and bake for 30 minutes.

  9. Turn temperature down to 180°C and continue to bake turkey, basting with pan juices every now and then, for approximately 2½ to 3 hours, or until the internal temperature is 85°C (180°F) when measured in the meatiest part of the thigh with a meat thermometer.

  10. Remove foil and bake breast side down for 15 minutes until browned, turn over and brown breast side up for an additional 15 minutes.

  11. Remove from oven, allow to stand covered in foil for at least 20 minutes before carving

  12. Slice the turkey. Serve immediately.

Cook’s Notes: 
When choosing your turkey, plan on 500g (1¼ lb) per guest. It takes up to two to three days to defrost a frozen turkey. Always allow the turkey to sit on a large platter in the fridge to thaw.

This recipe lists the cooking times and ingredient amounts for a 5kg turkey, if yours is bigger or smaller adjust cooking times and ingredient amounts accordingly. To calculate cooking time, weigh the bird once it has been stuffed. Allow 35 minutes for every 1kg of weight.

If you are using a meat thermometer, start to take temperature readings, inserted deep into the thickest part of the turkey breast and thigh, an hour before the turkey should be done. You want a resulting temperature of 80°C for the dark meat (thighs and legs) and 72°C for the white meat (breast). The temperature of the bird will continue to rise.

Aslam shows me the ropes 

Name: Peter Fuller
Age: 51
Nationality: Australian
Chef Proficiency: I haven’t poisoned anyone
Party Piece: I’m a 99-per-cent barbecue steak, sausages and chicken guy
Who you’re road-testing the recipe for: Visitors from Sydney, Australia (the shire and the gong)

Being Aussie, turkey is not a food we have cooked before. Christmas is typically seafood and ham, so this was a real treat for us. It was great to have friends visiting from Sydney to join us for our test run Christmas dinner. 

Getting my hands on a turkey in Singapore in September turned out to be harder than I anticipated. After making many phone calls, Meat the Butcher on Bukit Timah Road came through with a 7kg bird. I read all the guidance on defrosting for days in the fridge, and then the butcher suggested day one in a cooler and then into the fridge. This worked like a charm and saved me a day and left some space in the fridge!

On the day of cooking we hit Universal Studios in the morning and I conquered the two big roller coasters, which was great prep for the adventure of cooking a turkey for the first time.

Everything else was relatively easy to get except the ready-shelled pistachios. I stumbled upon the nut bar at Cold Storage in VivoCity which had kernels; perfect. I prepared the couscous in what I thought was a large enough bowl, but after adding everything and trying to mix it, the kitchen looked a real mess. Top tip: bigger is better – just like the bird!

The recipe said to cook it breast down but I couldn’t get the bird to sit steadily. Also, the bird had a pop up temperature sensor, so I cooked it breast up. The verdict: delicious, very tender, tasty … fantastic.

Overall, the recipe is fairly straightforward. With great company, a glass of wine and a sense of adventure, the turkey meal was a hit!