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Roast turkey with pine nut and barberry rice stuffing

Learn how to prepare this Christmas delicacy at home

Image Credit: Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News
Roast turkey with pine nut and barberry rice stuffing prepared at Cle Dubai. (Atiq-Ur-Rehman/Gulf News)
Tabloid on Saturday

Serves 8


5-6 kg free-range turkey

Sea salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tbs olive oil

600ml good quality chicken stock (low sodium store bought chicken stock can be used too)

Watercress to garnish


400g short-grain rice

1l good quality chicken stock

80g unsalted butter

1 large purple onion, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, finely diced

100g pine nuts

2 tsp ground allspice

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 cup barberries

Sea salt

2 tbs lemon juice

1/2 cup unsalted shelled pistachios, roughly chopped

1/2 cup shredded flat-leaf parsley leaves


To make the stuffing, put the rice into a large bowl and rinse well under cold running water, working your fingers through it to loosen the starch. Drain off the milky water and repeat until the water runs clear. Cover the rice with cold water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain the rice and rinse a final time, then drain again.

Bring the stock to the boil, then lower the heat and keep at a simmer.

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over a low–medium heat, stirring continuously, until the onion starts to soften. Add the pine nuts and spices, then increase the heat and sauté until the nuts start to colour. Add the rice and sauté for a few minutes. Add the barberries to the pan, followed by the simmering stock. Season with salt, then return to the boil, stir briefly, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook over a very low heat for 15 minutes.

Tip the cooked rice onto a shallow tray and sprinkle on the lemon juice, pistachios and parsley. Use a fork to fluff up the grains and leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200C. Clean the turkey, removing any excess fat from around the cavity. Stand the turkey upright and season lightly inside with salt and pepper. Spoon about half the stuffing into the cavity, without overfilling it and secure the skin at the opening with a small skewer. Set the remaining rice aside. Season the turkey lightly with salt and pepper and rub with oil, then transfer it to a heavy-based baking tray. Pour in half the stock and roast for 20 minutes. Lower the oven to 180C and roast for a further 40 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven and leave in a warm place for 10 minutes to rest.

While the turkey is resting, reheat the remaining stock and rice in a saucepan over a gentle heat. Spoon out the stuffing from the turkey and add it to the pan. Mound the rice onto the centre of a warm serving platter. Cut the legs and pieces from around the bone. Cut thick slices from the breast, stack around the rice and serve garnished with watercress. Serve with a bowl of natural thick yoghurt and salad.

Note: You can find barberries at any Wafi gourmet shop, Lebanese or Iranian delicatessen. If not available use dried cranberries or cherries.