Butterflied roast turkey with chestnut, herb and bread stuffing

Neil Perry
Neil Perry's Christmas turkey feast.
Neil Perry's Christmas turkey feast. Photo: William Meppem

There's no guesswork with the timing and no slaving over a hot oven with this simple turkey roast. It's a traditional turkey Christmas lunch with stuffing, but there's no gravy and it uses the best of what's available.


7.6kg whole turkey (medium to large)

extra-virgin olive oil

3 small brown onions, finely chopped

8 cloves garlic, crushed

200g cooked, peeled chestnuts

50g spinach, trimmed

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

2 tbsp chopped thyme

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

180g raisins, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained

200g unsalted butter, finely diced

2 eggs

sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

3 lemons


1. Preheat the oven to 200C.

2. To make the stuffing, heat a little olive oil in a fry pan. Add the onion, garlic and crumble the chestnuts and cook over a low heat for about five minutes or until the onion is soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

3. Blanch the spinach in boiling salted water until just wilted, then drain and rinse under cold water. Squeeze the excess water from the spinach. Chop coarsely.

4. Combine the onion mixture with the spinach, breadcrumbs, thyme and parsley, raisins and butter in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, season with salt and pepper and mix well.

5. Cut the backbone out of the turkey and press it flat, butterflying it. Remove the wishbone. You can ask your butcher to do this.

6. Get your fingers and then hands between the skin and flesh of the turkey and gently, without breaking the skin, loosen it to make pockets for the stuffing.

7. Press the stuffing under the skin of the turkey on the breasts and legs, until it's firmly packed in. Rub the skin with plenty of olive oil and season the turkey, inside and out with salt and pepper.

8. Place the turkey in a large baking tray and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150C and cook for about four hours, until cooked. (The best way to ensure the turkey is cooked through is with a meat thermometer. If the bird is large, add 20 to 30 minutes for every 500grams over 7.6 kilograms. When cooked, the internal temperature of the breast should be 74C and the legs 80C.)

9. Reduce the oven temperature to 50C. Cover the turkey with foil and allow it to rest in the oven for about 20 minutes.

10. To serve, remove the drumsticks, thighs and wings at the second joint. Slice the breasts into one- to two-centimetre thick slices, being careful not to rip the skin. Place some breast and leg meat on each plate, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and give a good squeeze of lemon juice. Place a nice big dollop of grilled corn puree on the side.