The holiday season is finally upon us and with three days to go it is time to start finalising shopping lists and beginning to prep for the feast.
I'm often asked what meat we have as a family on Christmas Day. The turkey has become the traditional bird to be eaten at Yuletide in the UK. Many years ago it was the goose with all of its rich dark meat and perfect roast potato making fat. The turkey was introduced to our shores from the Americas and due to its large yield in meat and value for money it fast took over the goose as the bird of choice.
It is worth having a change now and again and most game, such as pheasant and grouse, is more than suitable for the Christmas table. Duck and a top quality chicken or even a decent piece of beef are great replacements but this year I’m going for the good old turkey. With a superb supplier of the famous Kelly Bronze just down the road from where I live it would be foolish to not go for this great bird.
The turkey does have a reputation for being dry. There are so many different tips and techniques for supposedly keeping the bird moist but my foolproof technique is simple and non-fussy. The majority of the fat is on its back so roasting the bird at the same temperature on breast down should guarantee succulent meat. A traditional stuffing containing a little sausage meat, wild mushrooms and the turkey liver will add moistness to the bird.
Merry Christmas everybody and best of for 2010. x
Traditional Roast Turkey with Chestnut and Wild Mushroom and Oat Stuffing
1 quality oven ready turkey weighing approximately 6kg
1 onion, peeled
Salt and pepper
For the stuffing
1 tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
150g wild mushrooms, finely chopped
A handful of fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the stalks and finely chopped
The liver of the turkey, finely chopped
300g prepared chestnuts, finely chopped
150g pork sausage meat
Salt and pepper
1 – Ensure your turkey has sat at room temperature for 2 hours before cooking. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4.
2 – To make the stuffing, heat the oil and butter in a frying pan. Add the shallot, mushrooms and thyme and sweat for 5-10 minutes until the water has evaporated from the mushrooms.
3 – Tip into a mixing bowl then combine with the remaining ingredients, seasoning with a little grating of nutmeg and salt and pepper. If the mixture looks too wet, stir in a little more oats a handful at a time until it stiffens.
4 – Stuff the neck of the turkey with the stuffing by loosening the skin around the neck and pushing the stuffing up towards the breast. Secure the skin with a couple of cocktail sticks or a skewer.
5 – Season the turkey all over with salt and pepper and place the onion into the cavity. Place breast side down in a roasting tin.
6 – Cook the turkey for the allotted cooking time (2 hours for a 4kg bird, adding 15 minutes per kg) turning the turkey breast side up for the final 30 minutes to crisp up the skin. To be on the safe side, buy a good meat thermometer and check the thighs of the bird for the correct temperature as per the thermometer.
7 – Remove from the oven and rest for 30-45 minutes. To make a simple gravy, skim off the excess fat from the roasting juices and add a glass of white wine. Bring to the boil and taste for seasoning.