Stuffed Greek-Style Turkey


Here’s the Main Event folks, the stuffed turkey.

I’ve been a big fan of brining a turkey for over a decade now. Oh, I’m sure you all have your favourite way of doing it but out there is an equal amount of people who fear, dread or avoid turkey. Usually because it ends up dry.

Brining a turkey is simply allow the bird to steep overnight (24 hrs.) in a salt water solution. What’s happening here? Much like when you eat salty things, your body craves water. That’s what’s happening to the turkey – it’s taking in moisture (water).

I’ve gone beyond my usual salt & water brine here and I’ve added some aromatics to make this turkey somethin’ special for the Greek-themed Thanksgiving.

Another change I made was in how I roasted the turkey. Although I didn’t use a Butterball turkey, I did refer to their website for their roasting calculator and I picked up a great roasting tip:

Roast the turkey uncovered at 325F only cover the turkey with aluminum foil after you’ve achieved it’s desired colour. I’ve always done the reverse (cover for duration of roasting & uncover to brown at the end), but this Butterball method gave me a picture-perfect, moist and succulent turkey.

The other component of the turkey was the Greek stuffing. Greeks do enjoy roasting a turkey but it’s usually done during the Christmas holidays. I had a wealth of reference points for a Greek stuffing and I settled on a classic which used ground meat, minced giblets, raisins, chestnuts and pine nuts.

The turkey and stuffing were an obvious hit. My guests had never seen a beautifully roasted bird before and I must admit, this one turned out pretty damn good!

The stuffing was savory with a little but of sweetness from the raisins, chestnuts and pine nuts. I don’t have a decent photo of the stuffing but I can assure you my guests and myself enjoyed it alot.

Again, I was able to find a Greek wine as a pairing for the main course of the evening. Alex Pulcini of Pavlou Estates Winery recommended the Kappa P62 Xinomavro-Syrah as his choice for this turkey. I described the flavours the turkey would have and that this would be much more falvourful, aromatic and tolerant of a red wine.

Alex recommended this wine as it’s a people pleaser, seems to be very popular with white and red drinkers and this wine has obvious notes of black cherry.

The P62 bottles I served did not last and I wish I had more…my guests wished they had more! I’m delighted to share with you that we collectively will be buying another case of the P62.

Earlier this year during my vacation to Greece, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a tour of the Pavlou Estates Winery (watch for my post on the winery tour, the people who make it and the wine).

Stuffed Turkey (Γαλοπούλα-γεμιστή)

Brining Solution

3 bay leaves
handful of peppercorns

3 cloves of garlic

a bunch of fresh thyme

small handful of parsley
1/2 cup of Mosxato wine
handful of allspice berries
1/2 cup of orange juice
1 cup of salt
enough water to cover the turkey

Roasted Turkey

1 large turkey (5.7kgs)
feeds 10
melted butter

sea salt pepper
sweet paprika
black pepper
garlic powder

combination of dried thyme, oregano and rosemary

Pre-heated 325F oven

  1. To brine your turkey, you will need a large, clean pail or a large pot. Place your turkey inside and add enough water to cover the bird. Now the remove the bird and add the wine, orange juice, aromatics and the salt. Now place the container on your stove and bring the brining solution to a boil. Allow to cool before placing the turkey inside the brine. Palce the cover on and refrigerate or place outside (if cold enough for approx. 24 hours).
  2. Between now and roasting the turkey, you may pre-make your stuffing (recipe below).
  3. The next day, 1 hour before roasting, remove the turkey from the brine and rinse well and pat dry. Pre-heat your oven to 325F. Discard the brine.
  4. Ensure your pre-made stuffing has also come to room temperature before spooning it into the cavity of the turkey. Have ready two containers of stuffing ready: one large portion with an approx. amount you think you’ll require to stuff the bird and a back-up portion to replenish it (this helps eliminate cross-contamination to any leftover stuffing that does not fit in the turkey).
  5. Spoon the stuffing into the main cavity and stitch with some wooden skewers to seal. Now place some stuffing in the neck area of the turkey as well (that’s what all that excess neck skin is for…stuffing). Again, stitch with some wooden skewers to seal in the stuffing.
  6. Place your turkey on a roasting rack and rub it all over with melted butter. Seasoning your turkey with a Mediterranean dried herb mix (I used oregano, thyme and rosemary, sea salt, black pepper, sweet paprika and garlic powder.
  7. Place the roasting rack & turkey onto a roasting pan and add an onion, carrot and celery stick in the bottom of the pan with some water and a splash of wine. Place your turkey on the middle rack of the oven and roast for 3 1/2 hours. Monitor your turkey after about 2 hours to check for it’s colour. When the desired browning has occured, tent your turkey with aluminum foil and continue to roast until the thigh meat has reached 180F (using a thermometer) and 160F in the stuffing.

Greek Turkey Stuffing

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, diced

1 stalk of celery, diced

3 cloves of garlic, minced

3 pork sausages, casings removed

1/2 lb. lean ground pork

1 packet of turkey giblets, finely chopped

1 bay leaf
1 tsp. dry oregano
3/4 cup long grain rice
1/4 cup wild rice

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

1/2 cup of Mosxato wine

1/2 cup of raisins

1 1/2 cups of turkey/vegetable stock

1 cup of chestnuts, chopped

1/2 cup of pine nuts

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh sage

salt and pepper to taste

1/2 tsp. ground clove

  1. In a large skillet, add your olive oil over medium heat and add your onions, garlic, celery, bay leaf and saute for about 10 minutes to soften. Now add your giblets and saute for a minute or so, followed by adding the sausage meat and ground pork. Turn the heat up and brown your meat while stirring constantly.
  2. Now add rice and stir to coat and toast the rice for a couple of minutes. Now add the wine and raisins and reduce to medium-low and simmer while stirring for a couple of minutes.
  3. Now add the stock, bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer while stirring and most of the liquid has been absorbed by the rice. Your rice should be just under ‘”al dente” and it will finish cooking as stuffing in the turkey.
  4. Now add the chopped parsley, chopped chestnuts, sage and stir it. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and take off the heat. Add the pine nuts and a pinch of ground cloves and stir in. Allow to come to room temperature before placing the stuffing in the turkey (you may place in a container and refrigerate overnight).

© 2008 – 2014,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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42 Comments for “Stuffed Greek-Style Turkey”

Jan

says:

That turkey certainly looks lovely. I’m loving the stuffing you made using pork, chestnuts and pine nuts and all those lovely herbs!
A great job you did!

Jen of A2eatwrite

says:

You know, Peter, I’ve always avoided brining because it seemed too “hard” but I think, after reading this, I’m going to give it a try this year!

Judy@nofearentertaining

says:

That turkey indeed looks incredible! I think I may try a side of that stuffing at Thanksgiving just for something different. Love this!

FOODalogue: Meandering Meals and Travels

says:

I, too, have been roasting my turkey the wrong way (with good results)…but thanks for the Butterball tip. I’ll try it next time.

Your turkey had beautiful color and the stuffing is a delicious combination of ingredients, enhanced only by its position in the belly to catch all the juices. YUM!

Stacey Snacks

says:

Peter,
I love this stuffing, w/ raisins and pignoli buts and rice.
Gorgeous.
Also, thank you for the good idea w/ the tied dolmas! Something different.
Stacey

kat

says:

That turkey is so beautiful! I’m with you on the brining it really makes all the difference. Great tip on the roasting too

Cathy - wheresmydamnanswer

says:

That is one DAMN fine looking turkey!!! WOW looks amazing and the stuffing YUM!!!

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy

says:

The turkey is always the trickiest thing for me. Yours, however, is a work of art! I love the Greek stuffing recipe! I’ll have to try it, but not this year. We’ll be cruising in the Caribbean on Thanksgiving this year! Can you say limbo? ;)

MEDITERRANEAN KIWI

says:

you did an excellent job on this – i would like to try to recreate it for greek christmas – and i love the veges surrounding it

Nina Timm

says:

Believe it or not, I have nevr cooked a whole turkey before….the color on this bird is awesome!!!!

Marjie

says:

I brined the turkey once, but it was too salty for me. I do, however, follow Butterball’s instruction, and it makes a wonderful turkey! Love your veggies on the platter around it, too.

Proud Italian Cook

says:

Gorgeous color on that bird!!Thanks for the tip on roasting the turkey. I’ve always been afraid to brine too, does it hold on to the salt taste?

Sandie

says:

This post makes me long for our Thanksgiving holiday. I think I enjoy cooking for it more than any other holiday of the year…

Peter G

says:

Well done Peter. The secret of this is definitely in the brining. Will certainly give this a go in the near future as most of my turkey experiences have been quite dry!

melissa

says:

That must be the wild rice stuffing you were referring to, with the raisins?

The turkey is gorgeous. And now I am going to use that advice about the foil this year. Thanks!

I’m also brining. I did it for the first time last year, with the Williams-Sonoma brine. It has sea salt, dried apples, juniper berries, lemon peel, star anise, garlic, rosemary, thyme, onion, black pepper, and bay leaf (I totally copies and pasted that, I didn’t memorize it haha). Not all that different from yours, so I can imagine some of the flavor. Unique and delicious.

Bridgett

says:

This just reminds me that I cannot wait for our Thanksgiving turkey. I’m trying hard not to drool right now but yours looks so savory!

Farmer Jen

says:

Thank you for a wonderful post Peter. I learned some things about brining, and I may try that browning technique this year. I have always covered it with foil first and allowed it to brown later as well. Your stuffing recipe is very similar to my Mom’s. Reading it made me very hungry.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js

says:

That turkey does look picture-perfect. I love the aromatics in your brining solution. And thank you for that tip about the roasting.

Susan from Food Blogga

says:

Ah, so you’re a briner, huh? I haven’t done brining yet; I do old fashioned basting as it cooks. Now I really can’t wait for our Thanksgiving after seeing your lovely turkey.

Laurie

says:

Thanks for the brining instructions! This is the first year I’m hosting Thanksgiving at my house in years and I hope to wow my guests like you did.

Helene

says:

I do Ricardo's recipe for brining. Since I started doing it my Turkey is so much tender. Nice job on yours & nice color.

Toni

says:

I’ve eaten turkeys that were brined and been surprised by how tasty they were – and not like eating salt. The only difficulty in making this would be to find a bucket big enough for a big turkey! But it looks sensational……definitely worth hunting down that bucket!

Mochachocolata Rita

says:

petey! your bird looks beautifully browned!

i havent tried roasting a turkey before…my oven can only fit a chick! hehe

Emiline

says:

It really is a beautiful bird. I’m a bit teary right now.

My dad always brines out Thankgsgiving turkey. He puts it in a cooler usually.

The candy picture didn’t show up. I’m curious what it was.

Zen Chef

says:

I have brined a turkey in a past too and it worked beautifully. Nice juicy and tender meat. Nice work all around Peter. Looks like a wonderful meal with good company too.

We Are Never Full

says:

we;re off in a few to our annual friends “spanksgiving” party. it’s the 9th one. this picture of the turkey is getting my tastebuds going! great job.

Patalintu

says:

We don’t get whole turkey’s in Finland (not saying anything about some rare farm stores which we know nothing about), but looking at this we can finally certainly understand all the fuss about Canadian and American thanksgiving dinners. Looking forwad to trying this out with some chicken… We´ve been loving your recipes since finding your blog couple of months ago.

Peter M

says:

Jen, it’s very easy…try just a water and salt brine first,play with flavours later.

Judy, the stuffing will rock the dinner table.

Kiwi, don’t hesitate to call if you need help with prepping the turkey, ok?

Nina, you have to!

Marie, just rinse the turkey well and season your turkey as per usual…best, moistest turkey that’s brined.

Jen, leave it uncovered then tent it with foil after you get the colour you like.

Susan, brining all the way….no basting needed.

Emiline, what candy pic?

Patalintu, thank you and I hope to see you here often and you try out some of the dishes.

Jeanne

says:

If you could see my ridiculous oven (in our rented house, I hasten to add!) you woudl realis how far from the realms of the possible it is for me to roast a turkey :( So I’ll just enjoy yours vicariously!

says:

[…] Stuffed turkey is also something the Cretans eat during Winter holidays, and they have a special mix of flavors and spices to stuff it with. Orange, thyme, oregano and rosemary are the perfect combination for a true Aegean flavor, and even though it will no doubt remind you of summer, a family meal is the perfect occasion to try it out! […]