It always seemed to me somehow that turkeys shouldn't love the beginning of winter. At first we celebrate Thanksgiving Day at the end of November, then comes Christmas – and millions of turkeys in the whole world live they last days.

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Do Americans and Britons know why they call this bird by the name of one of the Asia Minor states? In fact it bears no relation to Turkey. Let's look to the past. Turkey cocks came to Europe from West Indies, i.e. America. Christopher Columbus was searching for another way to India as he discovered a new land, which he mistook for India. He thought turkey is related to a peacock that is called tuka by the inhabitants of the islands in the Indian Ocean. That is why we name this wonderful bird turkey.

But let's speak about turkey as a main dish of Christmas dinner. To my mind, it's the biggest and appetizing poultry, which gives the best fit to a family holiday. There are lots of ways to cook a turkey, though it's usually served whole. The principle of cooking is simple enough. First of all you need to unfreeze turkey correctly: do it beforehand, unhurriedly, better in the fridge what will require about 15-20 hours.

Turkey has delicate fatless meat, that's why there is a danger that it can get dryish during cooking. I know one secret way to make your turkey juicy and fleshy – take a usual syringe with a needle, fill it with melt butter and make some injections in its soft places. The result is startling, I assure you! Then rub the bird with salt and pepper within and outside, and it's basically ready to be placed in the oven.

Now it comes time for the most interesting thing: to choose what the turkey will be stuffed with. Whether you use such products like rice, fruits, nuts or chestnuts – it's all a matter of taste. Exactly stuffing variations distinguish different national recipes from each other: Poles add cream and chopped meat, Dutch - mashed potatoes and celery, French prefer chestnuts, and so on. But I'm going to share with you the tastiest turkey recipes from my large collection and hope you'll appreciate them at their true value.

Turkey with cranberries, bacon and walnuts

This spicy filling is one of the most delicious – it's a hybrid between traditional American and English versions of turkey stuffings. Cider sauce harmonizes perfectly with golden turkey crisp.

1 turkey weighing about 4 kilos
1 tablespoon corn oil
4 ounces bacon, sliced
2 shallots, chopped
2 celery twigs, chopped
1 rosemary twig
3 ounces cranberries
3 cups cider
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon allspice
3 ounces walnuts, chopped
1 orange peel, grated
1 cup sausage meat
1 egg
2/3 cup bread crumbs 
1/2 cup mouldering butter
1 1/4 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon starch
salt and pepper at your taste

1. To make stuffing, combine oil, bacon, shallot, celery and rosemary in a saucepan. Cook 10 minutes, until vegetables are soft but not stain. Add cranberries, and 1 1/2 cup cider. Cook for 10-20 minutes, then take the pan from fire and let the mass get cold.
2. Add nutmeg, allspice, a pinch of salt and pepper, walnuts, orange peel, sausage meat, 1 egg and crumbs.
3. Heat up the oven to 240 C. Wipe dry turkey skin and stuff it. The rest of stuffing you can lay around the turkey. 
4. Coat the turkey with butter and flavor. Tent with aluminum foil and put in the oven. In 15 minutes reduce the heat to the minimum. Pour on juice, and then bake for 2 – 2 1/2 hours. Remove foil an hour before the dish is ready. Remove turkey from oven, cover with foil again and let it rest for 30 minutes before carving.

5. Then you have to make a sauce. Remove grease in the casserole dish in which you've baked the turkey, add cider, chicken broth and a little meat from turkey wings. Combine with starch and cook until it thickens. Pour it in a sauceboat and serve up together with the turkey. 

Apple-glazed turkey with herbs

This savory herb filling will surely enhance your turkey for the holiday table. In its part sweet apple glaze is snap to cook and has a really delicious and original taste.

1 turkey
1/2 cup butter 
2 onions, chopped 
1 large carrot, diced 
2 stalks celery, chopped 
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage 
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
8 cups bread crumbs 
1/2 cup chicken broth 
1 1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

For the glaze:

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper 
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Melt butter in a large saucepan. Add onion, carrot and celery and cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and mix well, then add thyme, parsley, sage, salt and pepper and mix the mass. Pour in broth and fluff gently.
2. Heat oven to 220 C. Remove giblets and neck from cavity. Fill the large turkey cavity and the smaller neck cavity, if you have enough stuffing. In the case you want to cook the stuffing separately, put in the oven 40-50 minutes before the turkey will be ready.
3. Roast turkey about 2-2 1/2 hours. Then cover it with foil and, reduce the heat and continue cooking 30-40 minutes more.
4. Melt apple jelly in a pot. Combine with cinnamon, pepper and salt and mix thoroughly. Brush turkey with apple glaze and cook about 3-5 minutes without foil until it's browned.
5. Take the turkey out, cover with foil and let it for half an hour

Turkey with blocks and ham with Madeira gravy

If you want your turkey to be juicy, flavored and tasty, try this quite easy recipe. This is a perfect dish for a holiday dinner for two.

1 turkey weighing 5 kilos
12 ounces blocks
1 pint chicken broth
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, grated
8 ounces bacon, diced
3 parsley twigs, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
3 1/2 ounces dry tomatoes, sliced
1/2 lemon peel
1/2 cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

For the gravy:
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup Madeira
1 tablespoon mustard

1. Put blocks in a big pan, combine with hot broth and leave it for 10 minutes.
2. Fry onion and garlic about 5 minutes. Increase the heat, combine with bacon and cook for 5 minutes more.
3. Combine blocks with bacon, herbs, lemon peel, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Brush the turkey with butter and stuff with the blocks mass.
4. Heat the oven to 200-220 C. put the turkey on the casserole dish, tent with foil and bake for about 3 hours. Then remove foil, grease the turkey with its juice and cook for 20-30 minutes more.
5. Take the turkey out, when it's ready and place it on a big dish, covered with foil. Take the casserole dish with turkey grease and put it on fire. Add flour, broth, Madeira and mustard. Cook for 10-15 minutes over a medium heat. Season the turkey at your taste.