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Sunday, 16 December 2012

Delicious Roast Turkey with Sarma-Wrap Stuffing + Sweet Potato Mash

The victim

Turkey time is the most wonderful time of the year! My mouth waters just by the thought of it! Preparing a roast turkey dinner is a whole-day job but it is definitely worth it. The recipe I’m sharing is quite close to my heart as it is the one my mom makes for Christmas or New Year’s Eve. I believe one year, as a child, I requested it for both holidays, that’s how good it is!

This turkey is roasted with the stuffing inside and around it. The stuffing is a special rice and sour kraut sarma wrap stuffing. Sarma is a savoury Balkan dish, made of (in this case) sour kraut leaf rolled around a filling. The sour kraut makes the turkey incredibly juicy and tender, and conversely, the turkey infuses its juices into the wraps, making them irresistible and moreish.

If you can’t bother to make the sarma wraps or you can’t find sour kraut leaves, you can just stuff the turkey with the rice stuffing and put sour kraut on top of the bird. But if you have the opportunity, I would definitely advise you to make the sarmas.

I made this as a Christmas dinner for some of my friends last week, who loved it. Nothing was left! My New Orleanian friend even grabbed the bones to make some gumbo J

So, if you feel like something extra special this holiday season, definitely give this a try! I made some sweet potato mash to go with it, whose recipe you can find below after the turkey’s.

Delicious Roast Turkey with Sarma-Wrap Stuffing

 Roast Turkey Dinner with Sarma Wraps Stuffing
(Serves 6)
2.6 kg/5.7 lbs. turkey (with giblets if possible)
1 cup regular plain white rice
2 onions, chopped
200 g/7 oz. diced smoked bacon
Small handful of raisins
1 head of sour kraut (we need the leaves)/ around 400 g sliced sour kraut
2.5 cups stock (I used beef)
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 tbsp. butter + extra for buttering the bird
Black pepper
Paprika powder
1 cup water
Big needle and thick thread
Deep roasting tray

1. Remove giblets and neck from the cavity if there are any and wash the bird very well with cold water from inside and out.

2. Chop the giblets and fry them in a big frying pan in the oil and 2 tbsp. butter for 2-3 minutes at medium high heat, until they change colour. Don’t overcook them, or they will get too rubbery. Remove them and put them aside.

3. Fry off the onions for a couple of minutes until they get transparent; then, add the bacon. Fry for a couple more minutes and add the well-washed rice. Cook until the rice starts getting transparent. Stir regularly, so the pan doesn’t catch.

4. Add back the giblets, the raisins and the stock in the pan and as soon as the stock starts boiling, turn to low heat. Also, pop in some black pepper and paprika to taste. Cook for around 20 minutes under a lid until rice is almost done, just a little al dente. If you can’t tell, better cook it fully than undercooking it as sour kraut would prevent it from cooking further. If you have electric stove tops (as opposed to gas ones) you can switch them off fully and let the rice cook from the residual heat, but in that case, don’t open the lid for the whole 20 minutes, as you don’t want the heat to escape.

5. Butter the turkey with soft butter and salt and pepper it from inside and out.

6. Remove the centre tough part of each kraut leaf if you are going for the stuffed sarma wrap option. This will leave you with two halves of the leaf. Place the leaf half on your palm and put about a teaspoonful of rice on the upper middle part of the leaf, leaving a little buffer. Fold the upper part of the leaf over the stuffing, then fold the 2 sides in and roll until you get a nice tight wrap. If rice starts pouring over from the sides, that means you’ve put too much rice for that size leaf.

Leave 5-6 leaves out, unstuffed.

Don’t wash the pan you made the stuffing in, just yet!

Sarma Making in Action
7. Stuff the turkey tightly with the wraps, once you’ve made all of them. I stuffed the neck part, as well.
If you chose to go for no sarma wraps, stuff the turkey with the rice tightly.

Sew the cavity and the neck of the turkey closed, so the stuffing can stay nicely inside and preserve all its juices.

Arrange the leftover stuffing (rice or sarma wraps) around the turkey in the roasting tray. Put the neck in, as well.

If you went for no wraps spread half of the sliced sour kraut over the outside rice.

8. Melt the leftover 2 tbsp. butter in the pan you made the rice stuffing in. Let it get golden. Pour it over the turkey and the sarma wraps.

9. Cover the turkey well with the leftover sour kraut. This will make the meat juicier and more tender.

Stuffed, sewn and covered turkey, ready to roast

10. Boil the cup of water in the same pan you made the rice and melted the butter in and make sure you grab all the little leftover pieces of stuffing. Pour it over the outer stuffing.

11. Wrap the turkey and the stuffing with aluminium foil.

12. Roast the turkey in a preheated to maximum oven. Once you hear the water boiling from under the foil, turn the temperature down to around 200 C/390 F so it keeps boiling. For every kilo/2.2 pounds of turkey allow for 1 ¼ hours of overall roasting. If you’d like the turkey to colour on top, remove the foil and the sour kraut covering the turkey for the last hour of roasting and bathe the bird with the juices around it every 15 minutes. However, if you don’t care for the colour, I would suggest roasting it under the foil for the whole roasting time. This way, the bird will stay pale, but it will be extremely juicy and even more delicious.

13. Serve the turkey with the sarma wraps on the side. I made some sweet potato mash, steamed green beans and served with some gravy and cranberry sauce.

Here is the recipe for the sweet potato mash. Sorry that the picture quality is a little crummy but we were getting pretty hungry! 

Sweet Potato Mash

Sweet potato mash
1300 g/3 lbs. sweet potatoes (peeled and chopped in stripes)
200 ml/7 oz. cream
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. sugar
Salt to taste

Put all the ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil over medium high heat. Once it starts boiling, lower the heat to “low” and boil under a lid for about 30-45 minutes or until the potatoes start falling apart. Stir occasionally. When ready, mash with a potato masher or a hand mixer. If you want it super smooth and lumpless, pass it through a drum sieve, but I find it way more charming if it’s a bit rougher. 

Would you make this at home?

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