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Emigrated from America to New Zealand and never looked back. Couldn't have asked for a better husband, family & life!



Thanksgiving 2008 was the first year since we moved down under that I really prepared a Thanksgiving feast. I refer to my recipe as the "Holiday" recipe, because it is often repeated for Christmas, unless we opt for a Christmas ham, leg of lamb, or prime rib dinner instead. More often than not though, for us it was turkey.

This particular fowl is not altogether popular here in New Zealand...it is actually difficult to buy a turkey unless it's close to Christmas and we won't even discuss the price of the bird!!! I have been told though, by many of my Kiwi mates here, that they think of turkey as a very dry and tasteless poultry and it's not worth the price...well, until they taste this one, that is!

This basic recipe had been passed down through the generations in my family and is also quite good when applied to chicken rather than turkey, but for today's blog, it's a Tom.

I have yet to come across a turkey here that is not free-range (which may account for part of the financial blow), and they are generally MUCH smaller than their steroid enhanced cousins in North America. Nevertheless, I was able to get my hands on a 10 kilo bird through our local butcher (I love buying meat at a butcher shop rather than the supermarket anyway)...that's 22 pounds to you Yankee Doodles out there!

So, I invited 35-40 of our closest friends and family (more or less), hired the local church hall, and set out to show these Kiwis what a traditional Thanksgiving is all about. Okay, so we had it a couple days late (on Saturday) due to the fact that Thursday wasn't a holiday here, but it was wonderful! I spent a couple of days making pumpkin, pecan, and cherry pies ahead of time, and everyone brought something to share so it was truly a feast among friends!!! Everything was SOOO good!

Well, I have to thank Dad first, for sharing his expertise and advice on the recipe. Now I understand just how much time, effort, and sacrifice went into making these huge family gatherings so successful (I love you HEAPS Dad). Yes, Mom helped out on Thanksgiving, and I love her HEAPS too, but the turkey was always his job and he was the one chopping all the veggies to make the stuffing and getting up every hour or so to baste the turkey the night before, then whipping up a gravy "to-die-for" after pulling the bird out of the oven the next day. (Good on ya!)

Next, I need to thank my hubby for all of his assistance, without which I may have come up short at the finish. And, finally, I thank all of our great friends and family for sharing their amazingly beautiful, tasty dishes and, for helping us eat all of that turkey so that my family didn't have turkey stew for the next 6 weeks!!!

So, without further adieu...here is how to manage a very moist and delicious turkey.

PREPARE THE BIRD: (9 kilo (20 lb) minimum)

Remove the yellow dead skin and any pinfeathers.
Clean out any loose material and set aside the liver, gizzard, heart & neck from the inside.
Dry off the exterior of the body.
Tie up the legs and wings (just to keep them manageable)

Keep a turkey lacing kit or large needle and cooking string handy for later…


¼ lb. Beef Mince (hamburger meat)
¼ lb. Pork Sausage with sage (homemade is fine)
½ Celery Bunch (or more)
2 Med Yellow Onions (do not use white onions)
2 to 3 Med Potatoes
All Giblets (heart, liver, gizzard) from the turkey
1-2 Bags of Breadcrumbs or Croutons  (seasoned if possible, if not add sage and just a little thyme)
*Salt & Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


First, chop up the vegetables as fine as you like and set aside (1 cm pieces work well).

Then, chop up the liver, gizzard and heart and lightly-brown with just a little oil to keep from sticking. Season mixture with a little salt & pepper.

Next, add pork sausage and continue to brown, add the hamburger last and turn down the heat so as not to over cook.

Bring up the heat to the meat mixture and add the vegetables a little at a time to heat through but not cook. Add a little stock or water if needed, to steam the veggies.

Now, set the mixture aside to cool.

Once the meat mixture has cooled sufficiently, preheat the oven 106° C (250° F)

Next, put the breadcrumbs into a large bowl and add milk, a little at a time, mixing by hand until the bread is just a little moist but not mushy, then fold in the dressing mix and combine well.

Just before it’s time to place the bird into the oven, salt & pepper the inside of the turkey well (body and neck cavities).

If you have one handy, you can place cheesecloth inside the turkey to hold the dressing and make it much easier to remove later.

Pack the dressing into the body and lace up with a turkey lacing kit or whatever method you have handy.

Next, if you like a sweeter German-style dressing, you can modify a small portion by adding some raisins in just the neck portion (or just leave it the same as the rest, if you don’t like sweet stuffing).

Pack the dressing well into the neck area and lace up as well as possible.

Get your roaster ready and then rub the entire turkey with butter and liberally salt & pepper.

Place in the pan Breast up – this is only if you plan to slow cook at 106° C (250° F).

Now, add 1 cup of water and 1 cup of dry white wine in the pan and begin cooking.

After the first 3 hours, add 1 additional cup of wine over the bird, and then continue to baste it with the pan juices every 1½ - 2 hours. If the pan juices evaporate too quickly, add a bit more diluted wine (don’t use more than 600 ml of wine total, as it will ruin the gravy later).

The bird should be covered until the last two hours and basted often especially at the end. It should cook until the internal temperature reaches 77° C (170°F) or about 30-35 minutes per 500 gms (per pound), or shorter if the dressing is still warm when put into the bird.

You can also cook it quicker at 180° C (350°F) for 25 minutes per 500 gms (per pound), but if you do, you will need to start the bird breast down and turn it over when you remove the cover for the last two hours.


Pan Juices
2-3 Cans Unsweetened Condensed/Evaporated Milk
1 Cup Cold Water
½ Cup Corn Flour/Corn Starch
*Salt & Pepper

*Amounts vary to individual tastes.


Take pan dripping and add 2 to 3 cans of evaporated milk and enough water to make the desired amount (I added the water from the boiled potatoes for mashing) and heat to a boil.

Mix about half a cup or so of corn starch with cold water.

Slowly add the dissolved corn starch mixture to the slow boiling drippings until you reach your desired gravy consistency.

Add salt and pepper to taste.


7 Thoughts & Remarks:

Cheryl said...

What a great spread it looks terrific!

Joie de vivre said...

What a spread! It looks like everyone was very well fed.

MaryBeth said...

All of the food looks terrific, I'm glad you and all of your friends had a good time.

NuKiwi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NuKiwi said...

Oops...forgot to mention...that if there is stuffing leftover after packing it into the turkey, make a parcel of foil for the rest and include the neck for flavour.

Close it all up, then cook in the oven with the bird or later on, whichever you prefer.


Linda F said...

Phwoar! That is one spectacular looking turkey- I bet everyone enjoyed it too!

Anonymous said...

stumbled across your site while cruising the web... love it! just moved to NZ and just made my first (expensive) NZ turkey... unfortunately left the "fun parts" in their plastic bag in the bird and had to throw it out! my husband was sad... anyway, will keep checking back!