Sean Dunn’s Christmas turkey and ham recipes

By Sean Dunn

When I had my catering business, Perfectly Dunn Catering, based in Seaforth on Sydney’s northern beaches, I had the idea to expand my client base by delivering ready to go Christmas leg hams and turkeys. It was a great success, and got a lot of favorable press in the local rag The Manly Daily. It did however require me to work around the clock in the week leading up to Christmas, sleeping in my commercial kitchen on a camp stretcher under the work bench. I share these smash hit recipes with you, and hope they may brighten up your Christmas table!

Sean Dunn’s philosophy of food is “to make beautiful food for beautiful people”. Photo: Mark Franklin

Clove and sugar glazed leg ham


Half or whole skin on smoked leg ham (my go to ham is from Boks Bacon in Glenorchy 62738325)

Dark brown sugar 1-2 cups

Demerara sugar 1 cup

1 litre pineapple juice

1 packet whole cloves


Pre-heat your oven to 125 C fan forced

Using a small sharp knife remove the skin from your ham leaving as much of the fat on as possible. Retain the skin for later. Stud the fat of the ham with cloves, you may want to get the kids involved, and be artistic with your patterns. I find a clove every 2 cm is good.

Once studded, get your brown sugar and pack it onto the surface of the ham covering it as best as possible. The sugar is malleable, so easy to achieve. Gently drizzle on a little pineapple juice without removing the sugar. Place the ham in an oven tray lined with baking paper and pour in the remainder of the pineapple juice. Place into the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then baste it with the juices and put back for a further 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle over with demerara sugar. Put back into the oven for 30 minutes then baste again with juices. Back for a final 30 minutes and its ready to serve. This can be served hot or cold, if cold make a day or two before.

The smell of this ham will linger long after the memory of its flavour has gone. Cover the leftovers with the skin and refrigerate in a vinegar soaked ham bag.

Boneless roast turkey breast with stuffing


Turkey buffet (this is a pair of turkey breasts on the carcass with the 2 wing drumettes on)

500 grams chicken thigh fillet

6 good quality pork sausages

2 cups chopped parsley

Fresh basil or fresh sage

1 cup flaked almonds/pine nuts

1 cup chopped dried apricots

8 rashers streaky Bacon (Boks Bacon is best)

1 cup diced bacon

Kitchen or butchers string

A sharp knife and a can do attitude!

For the turkey sauce:

1 cup each of diced onion, diced carrots, dice celery and diced leak

1 bunch fresh thyme

The carcass of the turkey

Massel beef stock powder



You will need to bone out the turkey breasts from the carcass. If ever there was a time to learn how to do this it is now. This is relatively easy and straightforward. The buffet will need to be defrosted. If you are very afraid ask your butcher to do it for you, but with a can do attitude you can do it. Just follow along the bones and keep your fingers away from the cutting blade of the knife. Leave the drumstick on!

Once boned out place breasts in the fridge and make the sauce and stuffing or farce.

Sauce: Roast off the carcass on a bed of the mire poix (diced vegetables) and thyme. Make sure you get a good colour on them. When roasted place in a stock pot with some white wine and water. Simmer gently for a couple of hours, then pass (strain) the liquid off and throw the remainder.

Put reserved liquid in a saucepan and bring to the simmer, check the flavour, add Massel beef stock powder to taste, season with white pepper. Thicken with cornflour and cold water. Add some chopped parsley to finish the sauce. This will make a fantastic sauce that is so important to any dish, it’s worth the effort.


This stuffing can be either bacon and sage stuffing, or apricot basil and almond/ pine nut (pine nuts are a seed so generally good for those with nut allergies) or one of each.

Blitz up the chicken thigh in a food processor, don’t use breast mince, it is not the right flavour! Put this into a bowl (or divide in 2) with bacon, chopped sage, 1 cup chopped parsley, ½ cup diced bacon and half the sausage meat released from the skins. For the apricot stuffing replace the sage with apricots, almonds, chopped basil and pine nuts.

Mix to combine. Get out a large board and place the breast on it, slice a pocket in it from the wing bone to the tip of the breast. Make a sausage shape with your farce and push into the pocket, wrap the 4 rashers of streaky bacon around the breast, then truss it to hold everything together. Place breast (Ballantine) into a baking paper lined oven tray and roast for 1.5 hours in a 160 C oven. Time may vary depending on the breast size, you want to get an internal temperature of 72 C near the thick part of the breast and have the juice run clear when pierced. Slice medallions across the grain of the meat and serve with the turkey sauce. Can also be made the day before and served cold.

I hope you challenge yourselves to create some great food this Christmas, I’ll be with you in spirit looking over your shoulders and egging you on.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Cheers Sean

Sean Dunn is House Manager to the Bishop’s House in Hobart, and has extensive experience in the fine art of cuisine and hospitality, having run several restaurants and his own catering business. For several years Sean wrote as the ‘Gourmet Sleuth’ for RACT magazine and his philosophy of food is simply “to make beautiful food for beautiful people”.

You can follow Sean Dunn on Instagram at #thegourmetsleuth

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