We don’t tend to celebrate Thanksgiving in Australia, but I have always loved the sentiment behind this special day. Having one day a year to sit back, relax and talk to your family about what is making you happy in life, what you appreciate and what your dreams are for the year ahead is something we don’t do nearly enough. This wonderful holiday is all about giving thanks, so, whether you do this on Thanksgiving Day itself or any other day of the year, it really shouldn’t matter; it’s all about spreading the love.

Thanksgiving Roasted Turkey

125g softened butter
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
5.5–6 kg turkey, giblets removed, neck reserved
6 thin orange slices
1 quantity stuffing (see recipe below)
2 onions, cut into wedges
2 carrots, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces
500ml turkey or chicken stock, plus extra if needed

Stuffing

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
5 garlic cloves, minced
375g (1½ cups) brown and wild rice blend
750 ml (3 cups) chicken or turkey stock
juice of 1 lemon
1 small cauliflower head, cut into small florets
460g button mushrooms, halved or quartered (roughly the same size as the cauliflower florets)
50g pine nuts
40g dried cranberries
10g chopped flat-leaf (Italian) parsley
35g grated parmesan

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Chyka Celebrate - Thanksgiving
Chyka Celebrate – Thanksgiving

Method

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in the rice and cook for 30 seconds, then pour in the stock and cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

2. Once the rice is cooked and tender, stir in the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, place the cauliflower and mushrooms on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and toss the vegetables until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Roast for 15 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until the mushrooms and cauliflower are tender and lightly browned. Remove and set aside.

5. While waiting for your vegetables to cook, heat a shallow non-stick frying pan over a low heat and lightly toast your pine nuts. Be sure to keep a close eye on them, as they tend to burn very quickly.

6. Combine the toasted pine nuts, rice mixture and the cauliflower and mushrooms in a bowl, then wait until the mixture has cooled to room temperature before adding the cranberries, parsley and parmesan.

7. Stuff your turkey and, if you have any leftover stuffing that won’t fit, serve it warm as a side dish.

Gravy

roasting juices from the turkey
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons plain (all-purpose) flour
2 large thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Turkey Method – Serves 8 – Cooking time 4 hours

Preheat the oven to 180°C

To truss the turkey, wrap butcher’s twine around the bird’s neck. Tuck the wings under its body to prevent them from burning. Hold them in place with the twine. Next, secure the twine by tying a knot under the breastplate. Cross the turkey’s legs and tie them in place by firmly wrapping the twine around the bone twice and tying a knot.

In a mixing bowl, combine the butter, parsley, thyme and orange zest. Season the butter mixture to taste with salt and pepper and mix well.

Beginning at the neck end of the turkey, use your fingers to carefully make a pocket between the flesh and skin of the turkey breasts. Gently slide all but 1 tablespoon of the butter mixture into the pocket underneath the skin and carefully spread the butter to cover the turkey breasts, being careful not to pierce the skin. Slide the orange slices underneath the skin over the breasts.

Stuff the main turkey cavity with the stuffing, then truss the bird and spread the reserved 1 tablespoon butter over the skin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Place the reserved turkey neck, onions, carrots and celery in a large, heavy roasting tin. Pour 250ml of the stock over the vegetables, then place the turkey on top and cover the breasts with foil.

Roast for 2½ hours, then remove the foil and add the remaining stock to the tin. Continue roasting for another 30 minutes, or until a cooking thermometer inserted in the thigh registers 80C.

Remove the roasting tin from the oven and transfer the turkey to a platter, reserving the pan juices. Rest for 30 minutes. Remember that the turkey will continue to cook and the internal temperature will continue to rise as it rests, so don’t be tempted to overcook it.

While the turkey is resting, prepare the gravy. Strain the juices from the roasting tin into a bowl. Spoon off any fat that rises to the top. Top the liquid up to make 1.25 litres (5 cups) using turkey or chicken stock.

In a heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat. Add the flour and stir for 2 minutes, then whisk in the roasting juices and thyme and bring to simmer over a medium–high heat.

Reduce the heat to medium–low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the gravy thickens enough to lightly coat the back of a spoon. Stir in the lemon juice and season the gravy to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the thyme sprigs.

Serve alongside the turkey.

The above content is an edited extract from Chyka Celebrate by Chyka Keebaugh, published by Hardie Grant Books. RRP $40.00, available where all good books are sold. Photographer: © Commission Studio

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