Recipe: Turkey in a bag with Molly’s Passover vegetable stuffing

Turkey in a bag
GLISTENING: Apricot preserves glaze this turkey, which is cooked in a bag with Passover vegetable stuffing.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)


Active work time: 15 minutes

Total preparation time: 4 hours

1 (15-to 20-pound) turkey

Molly’s Passover vegetable stuffing, cooled

1/4 cup oil

1 cup apricot preserves


Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Clean the turkey and pat it dry with paper towels. Spoon the cooled stuffing into the cavity and close with a needle and thread or skewers. Rub the outside of the turkey with the oil and preserves and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Grease the inside (seamless unprinted side) of a large brown paper bag, or use a large plastic baking bag. Grease the paper bag very carefully; if any part is not greased, it might catch fire. Place the turkey inside the bag, neck first and breast down. If you’re using a paper bag, fold the open ends and seal it with paper clips or staples; if using a plastic baking bag, tie it with the plasticties supplied. Place the turkey on a large rack over a roasting pan lined with heavy foil. Bake for 3 hours or more, depending on the size of the turkey (15 minutes to the pound is a perfect guide).

About 30 minutes before the turkey is done, slit the bag under the bird and let the liquid drain into a saucepan. When all the juices are poured off, use a scissors to cut the bag open and remove the turkey. Turn it so the breast is on top. Return the turkey to the oven to brown for the remaining cooking time, or until a meat thermometer inserted in the thigh reaches 165 degrees. Skim the fat from the juices, discard it and heat the juices. Remove the stuffing and transfer to a heated bowl.

Carve the turkey and arrange the slices, legs, and wings on a large platter. Serve the juices in a gravy boat.

16 servings. Each serving: 533 calories; 215 mg sodium; 163 mg cholesterol; 24 grams fat; 6 grams saturated fat; 20 grams carbohydrates; 57 grams protein; 1.65 grams fiber.

Molly’s Passover vegetable stuffing

Active work time: 20 minutes

Total preparation time: 35 minutes

Note from the author: I adapted my mother’s vegetable stuffing for Passover by substituting matzo meal, cake meal and Passover cereal. It has become a family heirloom that is treasured for its delicious self, besides the happy memories it evokes of family celebrations. While my mother’s recipe dates back to a time before food processors, I chop the onions, garlic and celery in the food processor fitted with the knife blade. Then I change to the grater blade and grate the carrots, parsnip and zucchini, and what took her hours to make takes me about 10 minutes.

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 onions, finely chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 stalks celery, finely diced

6 carrots, peeled and grated

1 parsnip, grated

2 zucchini, unpeeled and grated

1/2 cup raisins, plumped in 1 cup Concord grape wine

1/2 cup minced parsley

2 to 3 tablespoons matzo meal

2 to 3 tablespoons matzo cake meal

2 to 3 tablespoons Passover cereal, uncooked, optional

1/4 cup dry red wine


Freshly ground pepper to taste

In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and cook the onions and garlic until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the celery, carrots, parsnip and zucchini, and toss well. Cook over medium-low heat for 5 minutes until the vegetables begin to soften. Drain the raisins and add them to the vegetables with the parsley. Stir in 1 tablespoon each of the matzo meal, matzo cake meal and Passover cereal (if using). Add the red wine and mix well. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients, a little at a time, until the stuffing is moist and soft but firm in texture. Season with salt and pepper. Cool.

About 12 cups. Each 1/2 cup: 128 calories; 2 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 6 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 19 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 2.94 grams fiber.

Variation: The vegetable stuffing may be baked in a well-oiled (10-inch) casserole, baked at 350 degrees until lightly browned, about 45 minutes, and served as a side dish.