This butterflied roast turkey with stuffing recipe comes from another of Australia’s best chefs Neil Perry, who helms the Rockpool group of restaurants, which have long been some of our favourites. Here Neil shares his recipe for Butterflied Roast Turkey with Chestnut, Herb and Bread Stuffing – and some Christmas tips.

Each year in the busy lead-up to Christmas when our readers are beginning to worry about what they’re going to cook for Christmas Day lunch, we reach out to chefs we know to ask them to impart some of their worldy kitchen wisdom.

Over the years we’ve shared Christmas tips from Australia’s best chefs, Asia’s best chefs and some of the world’s best chefs, asking them everything from gift suggestions for home cooks to what they recommend you do if it all goes wrong in the kitchen on Christmas day. This year we asked some of our favourite chefs to share their go-to Christmas recipes – anything from a drink to a dish – that they like to serve on Christmas day that you could also make.

We have Christmas tips this year from Chef Lennox Hastie who provided his Grilled Pipis, Garlic and Karkalla recipe and Chef Peter Gilmore of Quay and Bennelong, some of Sydney’s best restaurants, – who shared his recipe for a frappe-style White Peach Bellini. And today we’re sharing tips from Chef Neil Perry, one of Australia’s legendary chefs.

Neil Perry’s Rockpool restaurant, which sadly shut last year, was one of Sydney’s most iconic restaurants. We used to dine there for special occasions in the Nineties. Fortunately Neil still has his Rockpool Bar & Grills in Sydney and Melbourne, as well as his Spice Temple restaurants, all of which we adore.

Neil has shared his Butterflied Roast Turkey recipe, which has a wonderful chestnut, herb and bread stuffing, and is probably the easiest roast turkey recipe you’ll find, despite the long list of ingredients.

We had planned to share it earlier in the week, however, it’s not so easy to find a turkey in Siem Reap. I did and I made it yesterday, the results of which you can see above.

Butterflied Roast Turkey with Stuffing Recipe by Chef Neil Perry – and Some Christmas Tips

Christmas Tips from Chef Neil Perry

Q. What are you cooking this Christmas?

A. Strangely, I’m doing Mexican this year. I love the idea of just wrapping everything up in a tortilla and eating with your hands, starting with lots of great marinated seafood – and it’s perfect weather for it.

Q. What do you recommend the home cook who has to entertain a hoard of family and friends make?

A. Roast a big turkey (see the Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe, below), throw everything else on the barbecue and make lots of great salads – tomatoes are awesome in Australia at this time of year, as are the last of the asparagus – and have lost of amazing stone fruit for dessert.

Q. Chefs always tell home cooks to keep things simple at Christmas, but home cooks always want to do something special. Any pro tips for elevating a meal? Simple ways to enhance flavour or jazz plates up?

A. I honestly think the best thing is keep it with the season – there’s lots of amazing veg and fruit around, as well as shellfish – and yes keep it simple or you will spend all day in the kitchen.

Q. What should people have on stand by if things don’t work out?

A. Lots of salad, tomatoes, and dried pasta – you can always have a bowl of pasta if the turkey comes out black.

Q. What’s the best gift you can give a serious home cook?

A. For me I love knives – I love Shun knives – great sharp knives make you a better cook.

Q. Are you having Christmas at home or away? How will you spend the day?

A. At home – cooking, drinking great wine, and swimming with the children.

Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe from Chef Neil Perry

Neil Perry’s Butterflied Roast Turkey recipe is a lot easier than it looks and faster to make than a traditional turkey.

While we don’t eat much turkey here in Southeast Asia, we know many of our readers in North America and Europe do. Butterflying chicken is also popular in this part of the world and they love their chestnuts here in Cambodia.

A couple of quick cooking notes: firstly, try to get the stuffing all over the surface of the turkey, as not doing so will result in uneven colouring on the turkey’s skin. Secondly, check the turkey with a meat thermometer after around two hours, when ours was almost done. Prior to cooking it had been well up to room temperature.

This Butterflied Roast Turkey recipe turned out just beautifully. I have to confess that I’m not a fan of turkey (we normally have a seafood Christmas lunch) but Lara just loved this. Although I think she loved decorating the Christmas table as much as she loved the turkey.

Butterflied Roast Turkey Recipe from Chef Neil Perry

Butterflied Roast Turkey with Stuffing Recipe from Chef Neil Perry and Christmas Tips. Copyright © 2017 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Butterflied Roast Turkey with Stuffing Recipe from Chef Neil Perry and Christmas Tips

Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 5 hours
Course: Main
Cuisine: American
Servings: 10 People
Calories: 1081kcal
Author: Neil Perry


  • 7.6 kg whole turkey medium to large
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 small brown onions finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic crushed
  • 50 g spinach trimmed
  • 1 cup of fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 2 tablespoons flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • 200 g of cooked peeled chestnuts
  • 180 g raisins soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained
  • 200 g unsalted butter finely diced
  • 2 eggs
  • Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 3 lemons


  • Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  • To make the stuffing, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, garlic and crumble the chestnuts and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
  • Blanch the spinach in boiling salted water until just wilted, then drain and rinse under cold water. Squeeze the excess water from the spinach. Chop coarsely.
  • Combine the onion mixture with the spinach, bread crumbs, herbs, raisins and butter in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
  • Get the butcher or do it yourself, cut the back bone out of the turkey and press it flat butterflying it, remove the wish bone.
  • Get your fingers and then hands between the skin and flesh of the turkey and gently without breaking the skin loosen it to make pockets for the stuffing.
  • Press the stuffing under the skin of the turkey on the breasts and legs, until it’s firmly packed in. Rub the skin with plenty of olive oil and season the turkey inside and out.
  • Place the turkey in a large baking tray and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C and cook the turkey for 4hours or so until cooked. (The best way to ensure the turkey is cooked through is with a meat thermometer. If the bird is larger add 20-30 minutes for every 500g over 7.6kg. When cooked, the internal temperature of the breast should be 74°C and the legs 80°C.)
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 50°C, cover the turkey with foil and allow it to rest in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  • To serve, remove the drumsticks, thighs and wings at the second joint. Slice the breasts into 1-2cm thick slices, being careful not to rip the skin. To serve place some breast and leg meat on each plate, drizzle with evo, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and give a good squeeze of lemon juice.


Calories: 1081kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 121g | Fat: 49g | Saturated Fat: 19g | Cholesterol: 464mg | Sodium: 710mg | Potassium: 1635mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 1465IU | Vitamin C: 34.1mg | Calcium: 130mg | Iron: 6.7mg

Have you got a good butterflied roast turkey recipe? Have you made a butterflied roast turkey before? Do let us know if you make this one and how it turned out.

And if you have turkey leftovers, see our recipes for a turkey avocado club sandwich with Sriracha mayonnaise and a Cambodian num pang barang (like a Vietnamese banh mi).

Need more Christmas inspiration? See Christmas tips from the world’s best food writers, editors and bloggers and Christmas cocktail ideas from Sydney’s best bars. We’ll be posting our own seasonal cocktail recipes between now and the New Year.

Still stuck for Christmas gift ideas? Check these out: Cookbook Ideas for Culinary Travellers, Classic Cookbooks for Serious Cooks for ChristmasChristmas Gifts for Asian Home Cooks, a Guide to Asian Kitchen EssentialsChristmas Gifts for Travel Photographers and Travellers Who Love PhotographyChristmas Gifts for Picnic Lovers, and Travel Books to Inspire Wanderlust.

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