The recipe for the stuffing is probably double what you need, but we always make it thus as insurance against the never-ending - though thankfully good-natured - squabbles as to who had more than their share.
1 x 5.6kg free-range, corn-fed turkey
1/2 teaspoon unbleached plain flour
Stuffing of apple, prune and prosciutto
100g dried apple
2 large brown onions
200g pitted prunes
65g chopped prosciutto
180g chicken livers
125ml extra-virgin olive oil
1 small handful flat-leaf parsley
2 sprigs rosemary
23 sprigs thyme
12 sage leaves
4 cups fresh white breadcrumbs
freshly ground black pepper
Chestnut side dish
2kg frozen peeled chestnuts
2.2 litres chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 180C.
To make the stuffing, roughly chop the dried apple and reconstitute it in the verjuice until soft, then drain.
Finely chop the onions (to yield about 410g) and chop the prunes. Clean the chicken livers, then melt the butter in a frying pan and seal the livers until golden brown but still very pink in the middle. Remove the pan from the heat and rest the livers for 5 minutes, then cut them into large chunks. Add the olive oil to the pan and cook the onion until translucent.
Finely chop the parsley (you need 2 tbsp), rosemary (1 tbsp), thyme (1 tbsp) and sage (2 tbsp). In a large bowl, combine the freshly chopped herbs, breadcrumbs, onions, livers, prunes, apple and chopped prosciutto, then season with salt and pepper. (If you'd prefer a different look to your turkey, leave the proscuitto out of the stuffing and lay the strips over the bird, as shown above, before putting into the oven bag. If doing it this way, it will be necessary to open the bag for the last part of cooking to crisp the prosciutto.)
Fill the cavity of the turkey. Truss the turkey well with kitchen string. If there is leftover stuffing after filling the turkey, make into small balls to bake and serve next day with any leftover turkey meat. You could almost halve the amount of stuffing if it's not important to you.· Put the flour into an oven bag, then give the bag a shake and tip out any excess flour. Slide the turkey into the oven bag. Tie the end of the bag well with kitchen string and slip it into another oven bag, then seal this, too.
· Bake the turkey in its oven bags in a baking dish for 11¼2 hours and then open the bags for a final half hour of cooking to colour the skin. (See note on cooking times below.) Insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh to make sure no pink juices run. It's possible it may take up to 30 minutes more to cook, depending on all the variables, e.g. the breeding of the turkey, the depth of the stuffing and the individual oven.
Remove the turkey from the oven and allow to rest, breast down, for a minimum of half an hour covered with the bag. The turkey will retain its heat during the resting time, so reheating is unnecessary.
Meanwhile, simmer the chestnuts in the chicken stock until tender, about 20 minutes.· Drain and reserve 2 litres of the cooking liquor. Bring the reserved cooking liquor, wine and butter to a boil in a non-reactive saucepan and reduce until thick and syrupy. Add the chestnuts to the glaze and warm through.
Serve the turkey on a large platter with the glazed chestnuts to the side. Don't forget the stuffing!
NOTE: Turkeys that are not corn-fed will have slightly different cooking times. As a guide, a 4.5 to 5kg standard turkey will serve 10 people. Cooking time is suggested to be 40 minutes per kilo at 160C. I make the chestnut dish using Cheznutz, frozen peeled chestnuts available by mail order from an enterprising couple in Victoria's north-east (check out the Cheznutz website at www.cheznutz.com.au). Having these in the freezer is so convenient that I've become lazy and now tend to buy fresh chestnuts only for roasting over an open fire in my much-favoured iron pan, which has holes in the base for just this purpose.