Roast turkey with bacon, pistachio, and apricot stuffing.

Here in Australia it seems that the only time of year you can easily find a whole fresh turkey is in the lead up to Christmas. We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, and the rest of the year you have to either order one specially {and even then cross your fingers} or settle for a frozen buffe or portion. Which is a shame because our family really loves turkey. A tradition of my husbands’ family that I love and enjoy is the celebration at the end of every November of the patron saint of their village in Dalmatia. So that’s our turkey day. This year I decided we would combine the feast day with the spirit of Thanksgiving, and this would also make a lovely Christmas Day lunch or dinner. Don’t be daunted by the size of a turkey and don’t overcook it. This one was exactly 3.5 kg and I cooked it for exactly three hours plus twenty minutes resting time. One of my favourite things about a whole turkey is that the cavity is nice and large which means lots of delicious stuffing. Just a few things to note:

  • start by preheating the oven, then make the stuffing. While it cools you can prepare the turkey.
  • I am not going to give you any quantities here AT ALL. {Okay, maybe a few}. With the stuffing add as much or as little as you think you will need. I always make more than can fit in the bird and bake the rest in a loaf tin. How much stuffing you need will depend on how big your turkey is.
  • I’e simply stated “vegetables for roasting” as you can obviously use whatever you like. I went with potatoes and sweet potatoes but baby carrots roast beautifully, and I also love to roast corn cobs, asparagus, whole capsicum/peppers, and even cauliflower florets.
  • While the turkey rests {which is an absolute MUST} I finish the vegies and salads and get everything on the table
  • When it comes to carving I simply serve thighs, legs, and wings on the bone, and only carve the breast meat into slices. I ALWAYS spoon the pan juices over the meat just before serving.

Ingredients: For the stuffing:

  • one brown onion, finely diced
  • streaky bacon, chopped
  • one garlic clove, finely chopped
  • mushrooms, finely diced
  • dried apricots, chopped
  • pistachios, roughly chopped
  • fresh sage and oregano, finely chopped
  • some fortified alcohol, Port, Pedro Ximenez sherry, or Marsala would all work {I used mead}
  • about a handful of breadcrumbs

For the rest:

  • one whole fresh turkey
  • salt and pepper
  • a few slices of streaky bacon or pancetta
  • vegetables for roasting: potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, etc
  • olive oil
  • garden salad and corn salsa to serve on the side


  • Pre-heat your oven to 180 C. In the meantime make your stuffing. Heat a little olive oil in a large frypan to a moderate high heat. Add the onion and fry for a few minutes until it softens, then add the bacon. Fry for about five minutes until the bacon just starts to caramelise, then add the garlic and mushrooms. Fry until the mushrooms have softened and reduced, then add the apricots and pistachios. Stir through then ad the herbs and a splash of the alcohol and cook on high for a few minutes until the alcohol evaporates. Finish by stirring the breadcrumbs through. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  • To prepare the turkey rinse the cavity under cold water and wipe dry with paper towels. Season the whole bird inside and out with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Place the turkey in a large roasting tin and drizzle some olive oil all over it and some into the base of the pan. Using a large spoon fill the cavity with the stuffing. Don’t cram it full to bursting, but try to get as much in as you can. Secure the opening with a bamboo skewer snapped in half. Drape a few slices of bacon or pancetta over the breast and put it in the oven uncovered for about thirty minutes, until it’s getting golden. After that cover it with foil and cook for another two-and-a-half hours, spooning the pan juices over the top from time to time.
  • About an hour before the turkey will be done get some whole potatoes into the pan around the turkey. If there’s no room just cook your vegetables in another roasting dish, but add a few spoons of the turkey pan juices to the vegetables, or use duck or goose fat instead. Add any other vegetables about forty minutes or so before the turkey is done, depending on how long they need.
  • Just before the turkey is cooked take the foil and bacon off the top and let it brown a little before removing it from the oven, covering with foil again, and letting it rest for at least half an hour before carving.
  • Serve with the roast vegies, crispy bacon or pancetta, and any side dishes and salads. Bon apetit.

9 Thoughts

  1. Your turkey looks really moist (that’s the resting for you). The stuffing sounds yummy!

    I’m doing Christmas this year and I’m going to cheat and use the Turducken from Woolworths. They are actually REALLY good. Last year I butterflied and cooked on the BBQ, that worked really well too. When I get the chance, my next attempt is going to involve dry brining. It’s supposed to be the best way to get a moist turkey.

    1. I have to say the stuffing was amazing, and even better in a sandwich later that night.

      We’re doing Christmas too and I have no idea what yet. I’m leaning heavily towards seafood.

  2. What a beautiful meal you made. That’s a serious turkey roast-that belongs in a cooking magazine spread. I’ve never had fruit in my stuffing before and apricot actually sounds like it would add in nicely and the pistachios too, I would seriously consider trying that next time I have stuffing if I remember to try it. This will sound odd but that photograph of the pistachios in particular is really good! They look good of course but I mean it was well shot!

      1. I only eat stuffing on holidays but I think it’s a favorite food & there’s no reason I couldn’t eat it at other times-it is a little on the dry side because mine doesn’t get cooked with the poultry juices, any ideas how to moisten it while it cooks?

        1. I have cooked the extra bits in a loaf tin, try adding some olive oil to the frypan, or a bit extra wine. Maybe less breadcrumbs? We had the stuffing in sandwiches that night, as in just stuffing in white bread. Bloody delicious.

          1. Mmm that sounds good! Olive oil might help. I’ve had somebody else make the stuffing and they added orange juice I’m just remembering now and it was pretty good. I didn’t add wine either what’s wrong with me, I need wine in it!
            Stuffing sandwiches are delish! There use to be an amazing lentil loaf made by some veggie company and I’d slice it up with leftover stuffing on toast but they stopped making it.

            1. Alcohol is always the answer! I love lentils, but I may be alone in my house in saying that. Always makes me think of Neil from The Young Ones.

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