I don’t eat turkey any other time of the year, other than Christmas – don’t know why, I actually quite like it! I guess because it’s such a big, and difficult bird to roast that it’s not worth the hassle!
I LOVE cooking Christmas dinner, I really do. I have my own little rituals that have come from years of making Christmas dinner for my family and I’m going to share them with you in this post!
Christmas dinner in our house consists of pretty much the same thing every year – pate or seafood for a starter, roast turkey with my fruity pork stuffing, sausages wrapped in bacon, roasted parsnips and carrots, Brussels sprouts & chestnuts and roast potatoes – always cooked in goose fat! If there is room for dessert it is something chocolatey, or cakey, or chocolatey cakey :D
I don’t ever mix it up, it only gets eaten that one time of the year, and I’ve got other times to roast a goose, or cook a fillet of beef if I so wished.
That said, I did prepare a few things a little differently this year…I do apologise for lack of step-by-step photographs in this post, it was Christmas Day, a lot went clear out of my mind!
Starters this year was pate. Shop bought. With all the things I cooked this season, I really didn’t want to faff with trying to make pate! Served retro style, with a salad garnish, lemon wedge and crusty bread!
Onto the Christmas Day Turkey Dinner preparations!…
I started, as I always do, with the turkey. Always read the label that comes with your turkey to know how long to cook it for – mine would take about 3 hours. Nothing at all like the overnight cooking my mum used to do when I was a kid! I always put butter under the skin of my turkey, then lay bacon on top. The butter soaks into the meat, keeping it moist and flavourful, and the bacon protects it from drying out – plus it’s a great cooks treat! The crispy bacon never reaches the dining table!
This year, however, I saw Jamie Oliver make a flavoured butter on his TV show, so I decided I would give that a try.
Take a 250g pack of slightly salted butter (which had been left out of the fridge to soften) and put it into a bowl. Finely chop a few sprigs of fresh thyme, 4 stalks of rosemary and a few sage leaves and add to the bowl. Add 75g of finely chopped dried cranberries.
Then, using your hands, smoosh and squish everything together. Zest a clementine into the mix and squeeze in the juice. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine the juice and zest into the herby, fruity butter. Divide the mixture roughly in half.
Using a spoon, gently prise away the skin from the breast of the turkey – be careful, as you don’t want to rip the skin. Then grabbing one half of the butter, ease that into the space between the meat and the skin on one side of the breastbone, and then repeat with the other side. Kind of mash it down to spread it as far as you can. Any excess can be rubbed over the legs.
I then lay rashers of back bacon all across the bird – over the breast and covering the legs. By the time I’m done, it doesn’t look like a turkey any more! I popped a couple of halved clementines inside the cavity of the bird (I never stuff my turkey with stuffing) and then cooked at the temperature for as long as the packet told me to.
Close to the end of cooking – about 40 minutes or so, I take the bacon off (Sssh! Cook’s treat!) and then the turkey skin can brown off. Sadly, I completely forgot to take a photo of my wonderful cooked turkey.
With my turkey prepared and ready to go in the oven, it was time to prep my fruity pork stuffing. This is a recipe I’ve made up. I don’t know why fruit and nuts and meat goes so well together at Christmas time – it must be a medieval English thing!
I use lean minced pork to make my stuffing, rather than sausage meat – because it’s lower in calories and less fatty. Now, I know it’s Christmas, and the meal itself is laden with calories, but if I can save a few somewhere, I will!
Apricot, Cranberry, Pecan Pork Stuffing
So take one pack of pork mince and add to it a handful of chopped dried apricots, chopped dried cranberries, a handful of chopped walnuts and/or pecans and chopped herbs – I used sage and rosemary. Season with salt and black pepper. Simply mixed all together with your hands and put in a greased baking dish and drizzle some olive oil on the top. I cover mine with some aluminium foil and bung in the oven at 180C – 200C for 30-40 minutes. I take the foil off ten minutes from the end to brown off.
Now this, I do have a photo of once it is cooked! I don’t make this any other time of the year and really look forward to it every Christmas!
Next up, sausages wrapped in bacon. You need – one pack of chipolata sausages and one back of streaky smoked bacon. Take a sausage, wrap the bacon around it, continue till all used up. Pop in a roasting tin. Cook at 180C – 200C for about half an hour or so.
Yes, I know one sausage is ‘naked’…I ran out of bacon >_<
Now, normally, I would do a lot of this stuff on Christmas Eve, to save rushing about on Christmas Day. However, I had a vegetarian lunch party the day before and then was out in the evening, so didn’t get a chance. BUT, we had a very late Christmas Day lunch (5pm) as my brother-in-law had to work, so I was able to do all this leisurely on the day.
Next the veg…peeling spuds, par-boiling, roughing them up after draining and drying off before placing in hot goose fat to roast for an hour. (No pics I’m afraid)
The carrots and parsnips I prepared the same way as I did the day before – in a honey mustard sauce.
The sprouts were also roasted, like I did before, but this time I added some chestnuts to the mix. Add them closer to cooking end time so that they don’t get too hard!
And finally, the get-ahead gravy that I made, which gets poured all over my yummy Christmas Day Turkey Dinner!
Dessert was Nigella’s Chestnut Chocolate Pots, which were heavenly!
And that’s the way I do Christmas Day Turkey Dinner!