The following recipe may be different from the one you are used to, and you may find it hard to depart from the comforting taste of bread stuffing – I share your feeling there – but topped with the yogurt cilantro salad, rice stuffing also becomes comfort food!
Traditionally this recipe is prepared with chicken, but for festive occasions you may easily use turkey. Never dismiss the nutmeg among the list of spices; it plays a major role in the flavouring of the stuffing. I always keep whole nutmeg in my freezer and grate it fresh.
I like to use the turkey giblets that come enclosed within the turkey, in this recipe – they give the stuffing a distinct flavour that I like – but then some may wish to omit them, so prepare according to your preference.
3-4 kg (8-10 pounds) turkey or 2 chickens
Mixture of spices of some or all of the following: salt, pepper, allspice, paprika, garlic powder
30 mL (2 tbsp) vegetable oil
125 mL (1/2 cup) pine nuts or slivered almonds
500 mL (2 cups) beef cut into bird tongue size or coarsely ground
turkey giblets (optional) cut into small pieces
500 mL (2 cups) water
10 mL (2 tsp) salt
5 mL (1 tsp) nutmeg
5 mL (1 tsp) black pepper
5 mL (1 tsp) allspice
2 mL (1/2 tsp) cinnamon
250 mL (1 cup) long grain rice
60 mL (4 tbsp) butter
10 mL (2 tsp) paprika
Wash the turkey or chicken and pat dry. Sprinkle and spread with your hands the mixture of spices inside and out. Set aside.
Heat oil in a pot and fry the nuts until golden brown – remove and set aside. Fry until browned the coarsely ground meat and giblets (if using) in the same pot. Add water, salt and spices and bring to a boil. Add rice and pine nuts and bring to a boil again. Lower heat, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. Cool a bit. Spoon mixture into the cavity of the bird. (Use caution not to transfer inner juices of cavity and contaminate the rice left in the bowl.) Sew opening of bird with needle and thread or close with skewers. Rub the bird with butter. (Keep left-over stuffing – if there is any – refrigerated, and warm up at serving time.)
Fill a baking pan with water, two-finger-widths deep. Place the bird on a rack and place in the pan. Cover with lid or seal with foil and bake in a 160C (325F) oven, basting occasionally,(adding more water if needed). Bake for appropriate time. Uncover during the final hour of baking.
Remove thread. You may wish to spoon out stuffing onto a different serving dish (and top with more pine nuts) before bringing it to the table.
Serve with cilantro yogurt salad.
Makes 5-6 servings
Note 1: If not using the giblets in the stuffing, then process them until creamy (after roasting them alongside the turkey) and add them to your gravy; they act as thickener and flavour enhancer!
Note 2: Of course you may cook your vegetables alongside your turkey. Simply surround the turkey with whole onions, chunky potatoes and carrots and let them cook together. The blending aromas will enhance the flavours of your meal. This is not gourmet cooking but it certainly is heart-warming!
Note 3: Surely, use the richly flavourful sauce in the bottom of the pan to make your gravy.