Latin American Christmas turkey

Latin American Christmas turkey

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  • 8
  • Easy
  • 1 hour
  • 2 hour
  • Vergelegen Chardonnay 2006

Turkey is the star of the Christmas dinner in most Latin American countries. It may be marinated in fruit juices (orange or lime), rum or wine, then slowly roasted. Or it may be stuffed with meat, nuts and fruit. This version is marinated in brandy and stuffed with mince, dried apricots and prunes.


  • 1 turkey (about 4kg) with giblets, cleaned and at room temperature
  • ½ c brandy
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • About 100g unsalted butter, melted, for roasting
  • For the stuffing
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 250 g lean pork mince
  • 250 g veal mince
  • 250 g baked ham, diced
  • The turkey liver, finely chopped
  • 2 cups day-old breadcrumbs
  • ½ t ground allspice
  • ½ t ground cinnamon
  • 120 g coarsely chopped pitted prunes
  • 120 g chopped dried apricots
  • 85 g sliced blanched almonds
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 1 t salt
  • ½ t freshly ground black pepper
  • For the gravy
  • Neck and giblets from turkey
  • About 1 litre (4 cups) chicken broth
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 3 T flour
  • 3 T quince jelly
  • 1 T brandy
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cooking Instructions

1. The day before roasting, wash and dry the turkey, then rub it inside and out with the brandy and seasoning. Cover loosely with clingfilm and refrigerate.

2. To make the stuffing: Make the stuffing a day in advance and refrigerate. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the onion. Cook gently, for about 5 minutes, or until softened but still pale. Add the pork and veal, and stir with a large fork until it changes colour, losing its pinkness.

3. Remove from the heat and mix with the ham and liver. Allow to cool. Lightly toss the breadcrumbs, spices, fruit, nuts, egg, sherry and seasoning. Mix well with the meats.

4. To roast: Preheat the oven to 160ºC.

5. Just before roasting, loosely stuff the turkey. Bake any extra stuffing in an ovenproof dish for about 45 minutes. Tie the legs of the turkey and brush with melted butter. Place in a buttered roasting pan and roast for about 2 hours, basting with butter or pan drippings every half an hour, until deeply browned and tender. Remove and cover with foil to keep warm while preparing the gravy.

6. To make the gravy: Simmer the cleaned giblets in the broth for about an hour. Strain and set aside. Skim the fat from the juices in the roasting pan and set aside 15ml (3T). Add the sherry to the juices and heat on the stovetop, stirring to remove the browned bits.

7. Strain and set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat the reserved fat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until smooth. Whisk in the reserved stock and pan juices. Bring to the boil, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat and simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Add the jelly, brandy and seasoning.

Per serving: 5935kJ, 134g protein, 74.3g fat, 38.5g carbs

This recipe is adapted from the original published in The South American Table by Maria Baez Kijac (The Harvard Common Press). All it needs on the side is a bowl of lightly dressed greens.

Discover more turkey recipes here or browse more festive recipes here.

Phillippa Cheifitz Recipe by: Phillippa Cheifitz
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Regular TASTE contributor Phillippa is a well-known South African author and food writer, and has won many awards, both for her magazine features and her cookbooks.

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