Olive Hamilton Russell’s sophisticated dishes are inspired by the seasonal produce she grows on her family’s wine estate. She shares a few festive recipes from her cookbook, A Year on a Cape Wine Estate – Entertaining at Hamilton Russell Vineyards (Struik Lifestyle)


For brining the turkey:

  • 3–4kg turkey, thawed
  • salt
  • white sugar
  • cold water
  • 1 orange, sliced into wedges
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 2ml coriander seeds

For the sage and orange stuffing:

  • 7 slices white bread
  • 75g butter
  • 30ml Hamilton Russell Vineyards Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2–3 cloves garlic, freshly chopped
  • 40g celery, finely chopped
  • 300g salciccia or good-quality pork sausage meat
  • 25g fresh sage leaves, chopped
  • 15ml flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 15ml grated orange zest
  • 60ml fresh orange juice
  • freshly ground black pepper

For roasting the turkey:

  • 65ml butter
  • water
  • 1 orange, cut into wedges

For the cranberry and pinot noir sauce:

  • 1 tin jellied cranberry sauce
  • 160ml Hamilton Russell Vineyards Pinot Noir
  • 45ml dark soy sauce
  • 50g dried cranberries

For the deep-fried vine leaves:

  • 250ml Hamilton Russell Vineyards Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • *16 fresh vine leaves, rinsed and well dried

To serve:

  • fresh vine leaves, for garnish


The day before Christmas: Brine your turkey and make the stuffing 
1. To brine your turkey, you’ll need a bowl with a lid that’s big enough to hold the bird, but that’s still able to fit into your fridge. Make up a brine solution using 125ml salt and 60ml sugar for every 4 litres of cold water. Place the thawed turkey in the brine making sure it’s completely submerged; add the orange wedges, herbs and spices.
2. Place the turkey in the fridge and leave for 6–8 hours (about 1 hour per 500g).
3. Meanwhile, make the stuffing: preheat the oven to 90°C. Gently toast the bread until the slices turn light golden brown and start to harden slightly, 3–5 minutes, depending on how fresh the bread is. Crumb the toasted bread in a food processor. Set aside.
4. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the olive oil, onion, garlic and celery and fry over a medium heat until the onion becomes translucent and the celery starts to soften slightly.
5. Add the crumbs and the rest of the ingredients and fry until the sausage meat is cooked, about 5–7 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool completely. Store in the fridge overnight.
6. Remove the turkey from the brine, rinse well, pat dry, place in a shallow dish, cover and leave in the fridge overnight to help the skin crisp.

On Christmas day: Stuff and roast the turkey, make the sauce and deep-fry the vine leaves 
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
2. To roast the turkey: Rub 15ml butter into the cavity of the bird. Carefully loosen the skin from the breasts and thighs, ensuring the skin doesn’t tear. Rub 15ml butter under the skin of each breast. Place some stuffing under the breast and thigh skin and the rest in the cavity.
3. Truss the turkey and place it on a rack in a roasting tray, breast-side up. Add cold water to below the level of the rack. Rub 15ml of butter over the top of the bird and place the orange wedges on the rack around it. Cover with a lid or heavy aluminium foil (shiny side in) and roast for 90 minutes.
4. Remove the lid or foil, melt 15ml of butter and brush over the breasts. Roast for another 60–90 minutes; the total cooking time should be about 45 minutes per kg. To check if your turkey is cooked, pierce the thickest part of the thigh with a skewer or sharp knife. If the juices run clear, the turkey is done.
5. Remove the turkey from the oven and set aside loosely covered with foil to rest for 20–30 minutes before carving.
6. Meanwhile, make the cranberry and Pinot Noir sauce: place all the ingredients in a saucepan and heat over a medium heat, stirring until the jelly melts. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes (don’t allow it to boil). Pour into a jug and keep warm until you’re ready to serve it with the turkey.
7. Then deep-fried vine leaves: heat the oil in a medium saucepan and fry the vine leaves in batches for a few seconds until crispy. Drain on a paper towel.
8. To serve: place the turkey on a platter surrounded by deep-fried vine leaves. Garnish the dish with fresh vine leaves and serve with the cranberry and Pinot Noir sauce on the side.

*Cook’s note: You can buy bottled or tinned vine leaves at Greek and Middle Eastern delis.

Wine suggestion: This dish works well with a rich, terroir-driven red wine that is starting to show its mature side, so try a Pinot Noir from Hemel-en-Aarde Valley with at least seven years of age.

This recipe serves 8.