My eldest brother and sister are disappearing to their new families for Christmas this year. So my sister Kate and I are disappearing to a rented cottage in Ireland with my parents to forget about their absence. To make up for this, on Wednesday we had a feast in London, oh, and the thieving in-laws were invited too.
I’ve plumped for a turkey even though the bird of the moment definitely seems to be goose. A turkey’s what my mum has always done and it wouldn’t feel Christmassy without it. So here are my recipes for a delicious turkey with plenty of trimmings, predominantly based on the wonderful Christmas lunch mum has thrown our way year after year.
I was working on Wednesday so I took an hour or two on Tuesday evening to get really well prepared and take the stress out of the whole proceedings. So in the recipes, anything in italics was done the night before, leaving very little to do on the actual evening. This is what the fridge looked like on Tuesday evening:
Pour 600ml semi-skimmed milk into a pan, add half a peeled onion studded with 8 cloves, 1 bay leaf and a grating of nutmeg. Season and slowly bring up to the boil. Remove from the heat and pour into a jug, let cool and allow to infuse overnight in the fridge.
Blitz 200g bread (no crusts) into fine crumbs, pour into a bag / bowl and place in the fridge.
Strain the milk and combine with the breadcrumbs. Heat through when ready to serve.
Place 200g cranberries in a small pan, add 100g caster sugar, 150ml water and a strip of orange peel. Slowly bring up to the boil, once boiling cook until soft and the cranberries are starting to burst, about 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool, place in bowls, cover and put in the fridge.
Peel 2kg Maris Piper potatoes, half the smaller ones and quarter the larger. Place in a large bowl of water, cover and put in the fridge.
An hour and three-quarters before the turkey is ready to be served, place the potatoes in a large pan of salted water and boil for 20 minutes. Drain, shake about a bit to roughen up the edges and put into a large roasting dish with a good amount of olive oil and some sea salt. Put into an oven at 200c and leave to roast, turning every so often.
Brussel Sprouts with lardons
Halve 500g sprouts and place in a freezer bag with a little water and damp kitchen paper. Place in the fridge.
When ready to serve, fry off 150g lardons, add the sprouts and a grinding of black pepper. Cook until starting to turn golden and serve.
Chop 1kg carrots and place in a bag in the fridge with a little water and damp kitchen towel.
This step can be done an hour or so before ready to serve and reheated when needed. Boil the carrots in salted water for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and blitz with a few knobs of butter, a couple of splashes of milk, salt and a good grinding of black pepper.
Place 700g of sausage meat in a bowl, add half a diced onion, 100g chopped cooked chestnuts, 10 chopped sage leaves, 2 chopped rashers of smoked bacon, 8 chopped dates and 60g chopped hazelnuts. Pack into a small oven dish and place in the fridge.
40 minutes before the turkey is ready to serve, cover the stuffing with tin foil and place in the oven with the potatoes.
Place plenty of little cocktail sausages in a small roasting pan and cook in the same oven as the potatoes and stuffing about 30 minutes before the turkey is ready to serve.
Cut an onion into wedges, chop up three carrots and squash 4 garlic cloves. Place these in a freezer bag with damp kitchen paper and put in the fridge.
Blitz 150g butter with 15g parsley and 5g sage leaves. Get a 5kg turkey and loosen the skin away from the flesh by gently forcing your hand between the two, being careful not to tear the skin. Rub half the butter under the skin and then use the rest to spread all over the turkey. Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge.
Remove the turkey from the fridge an hour before putting it in the oven. Preheat the oven to 180c. Place the veg in a large roasting tray along with the giblets if you have them and sit the turkey on top of them. Pour in a cm or so of water and sprinkle the turkey with salt. Place in the oven. After an hour the turkey should be nicely golden, cover it with tin foil. Baste frequently, top up the water and cook for 40mins a kg (for a 5kg bird, 3hrs 20mins). Once cooked remove from the oven, onto a carving board and leave to rest for 20mins (covered).
Mash up the vegetables in the base of the pan and let it bubble away for a minute or so. Then strain the liquid through a sieve into another pan. Taste, add more water if needs be or bubble down some more, add any juice that might have come out of the resting turkey. Taste and season.