The Christmas meal is one of the main highlights of our culinary calendar. Whether you prefer a traditional roast or more exotic flavours, we offer you three easy turkey recipes guaranteed to make for a sumptuous festive feast.
Traditional roast turkey with a stuffing of goat's cheese and leek, roast potatoes, assorted vegetables and gravy
Total time: 3-4 hours (depending on stuffed weight of turkey)
II 4-5kg turkey, fresh, with neck and giblets removed
II 30g-60g butter, melted
II For the stuffing
II 30g butter
II 1 tbs sunflower oil
II 2 leeks, medium, trimmed and chopped
II 125g breadcrumbs, fresh
II 4-5 tbs herbs, such as parsley, chives and basil, freshly chopped
II 85g goat's cheese with black pepper, packaged
II 1 egg, medium-size
II Black pepper, freshly ground
II For the gravy
II 2 drops of gravy browning
II 1 cup chicken stock
II 2 tbs plain flour
II Juices from vegetable steamer
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Wash the turkey well with cold water and pat dry inside and out with paper towels — this removes harmful bacteria.
To make the stuffing
Melt the butter in a deep frying pan and add sunflower oil. When hot, add the chopped leek to the pan and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, until the leek has softened. Remove the pan from heat. In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, herbs and the seasoning. Add the leek and mix well. Leave the mixture to cool slightly and then mix in the goat's cheese and egg.
Loosely stuff the mixture into the turkey. Pull the skin over the stuffing and, if necessary, use a skewer to hold it in place or just fold the skin under the bird. Weigh the stuffed turkey to calculate the roasting time and then place in a roasting tin. To calculate the cooking time, allow 20 minutes per 500g — so 5kg turkey (stuffed weight) will need 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Brush the turkey skin with the melted butter. Pour 1 litre water into the roasting tin around the turkey. Loosely cover the turkey in foil and place on an oven shelf towards the bottom of the oven. Keep the turkey covered in foil until the last 45 minutes of cooking time, then remove the foil, baste the turkey and return to the oven until cooked through. To check that the turkey is cooked, pierce the thickest part with a skewer. If the juices run clear, it is cooked but if the juices are pink, continue cooking until they run clear. If any part of the turkey starts to brown too quickly, cover it with foil.
When the turkey is cooked, remove from the oven and transfer to a warm serving plate. Cover with a clean sheet of foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 20-30 minutes. Resting the turkey will make carving the meat easier.
To make the gravy
When you remove the turkey from the roasting tin, pour the juices from the turkey pan into a fat-separating jug and pour off the stock. Pour the stock back into the roasting pan. In a separate bowl, mix the gravy browning, chicken stock and vegetable juices.
Place the roasting pan on the stove over low heat and make a roux with the flour by gradually adding the flour to the stock and mixing it in with a wooden spoon until smooth. Once the roux is mixed, gradually add the mixture of gravy browning, chicken stock and vegetable juices, stirring continuously on and off the heat to avoid lumps. Once the consistency is smooth, heat the gravy and keep hot until it's ready to serve. Carve the turkey and stuffing and serve with potatoes, vegetables and gravy.
Turkey roll with rice and fruit stuffing
Total time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
This recipe requires a trussing needle and kitchen string.
II 2.8kg de-boned turkey (You can ask a butcher or a poultry supplier to bone the turkey for you. You can also buy a boned and rolled frozen turkey from the supermarket and defrost it before cooking)
For the stuffing
II 1-1/2 cups rice, long-grain, cooked
II 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
II 180g apricots, dried and chopped
II 250g prunes, pitted and chopped
II 4 spring onions, sliced
II 1 tbs orange rind, grated
II 1/3 cup orange juice
II 1 egg, lightly beaten
II White pepper
For the glaze
II 1/2 cup orange juice
II 15g butter
II 2 tsp brown sugar, soft
Preheat oven to 350°F. To make the stuffing, combine the rice, pine nuts, apricots, prunes, spring onion, orange rind, orange juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and some white pepper. Mix well and stir in the egg.
Place the turkey flat and spread the stuffing along the centre. Fold the breast inwards and sew the turkey together using a trussing needle and kitchen string. Tuck in the skin at the neck and press the wings in towards the breast. Tie securely with string.
Make the glaze by stirring together orange juice, butter and sugar in a small pan. Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Allow to cool. Put the turkey on a rack in a baking dish. Bake for about two hours, basting with the glaze. If the turkey starts to overbrown, loosely cover it with foil until the last 30 minutes of cooking. When cooked, remove from the oven and set aside for 20 minutes before removing the string. Slice and serve with the remaining glaze and vegetables of your choice.
Roast turkey breast with parsley crust and mushroom and shallot stuffing
II 1kg turkey breast supreme (boneless with the skin on)
II 60g butter
II 4 spring onion, finely chopped
II 2 garlic cloves, crushed
II 2 cups (160g) breadcrumbs, fresh
II 2 tbs parsley, fresh and finely chopped
II 1 egg, lightly beaten
II For the stuffing
II 225g wild rice, cooked
II 50g butter
II 115g shallots, chopped
II 335g mushrooms, sliced
II 1 egg, medium, lightly beaten
II 1 tbs thyme, freshly chopped
II 1 tbs oregano, freshly chopped
II 1 tbs parsley, freshly chopped
II 1 tbs lemon juice, fresh
II 2 tsp lemon rind, grated
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Start by making the parsley crust: Melt the butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the spring onion and garlic and stir until softened. Add the breadcrumbs and parsley and stir until combined before allowing to cool.
Place the turkey in a deep baking dish and pat it dry with paper towels. Brush with the egg. Press the parsley crust firmly on to the turkey. Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is light golden.
To make the stuffing
Melt the butter in a pan, add the shallots and cook until softened. Add the mushrooms and cook over high heat until most of the moisture has evaporated. Remove from heat. Stir in the beaten egg, herbs, lemon juice and rind. Add the rice and mix well. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.
Butter a rectangular baking dish and spoon the stuffing mixture into the dish, smoothing the surface flat. Cover loosely with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes with the turkey breast.
Serve the turkey roll sliced with the stuffing on the side, vegetables of your choice and red-currant jelly or sauce.
While the turkey is roasting, you can prepare the vegetables.
— Beatrice Boardman is a UAE-based freelance writer
Photos by Getty Images and Rex Features
II 8 potatoes, large, all-purpose (baking potatoes will do)
II 4 tbs goose fat
Peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters (or smaller, if preferred). Place them in a pan of boiling water with a pinch of salt, bring to a boil and simmer for about ten minutes. Drain the potatoes by placing them in a large metal sieve and toss them around in the sieve until their surfaces are rough. If you don't have a large metal sieve, you can scour the surface of the potatoes with a fork to give them rough edges.
Place the goose fat in a baking dish in the centre of the oven on high heat until bubbling. Then remove the baking tray and place the roughened potatoes in the hot goose fat and toss them until they are covered in fat. Roast for 50 minutes or until golden brown, turning them over several times during the cooking time to ensure all sides turn golden and crispy.
Note: The key to perfectly golden, crispy roast potatoes are the rough edges and the goose fat. The rough edges provide a bigger surface area to absorb the fat and the goose fat not only provides a rich, buttery flavour, it also has a higher flash point than standard cooking oils and so allows the potatoes to roast on a high heat without the fat burning. Goose fat is also one of the healthiest fats, because it contains fewer saturated fats than lard or butter and more mono-unsaturated fatty acids.
Crispy roast potatoes
II 8 carrots, large
II 8 parsnips, large
II 3 tbs of cooking oil
II 30g butter, melted
II Honey, to drizzle
Cut off the thin part of the parsnips and the carrots and then cut each thick section into quarters, lengthwise. Toss the quartered vegetables in the oil and melted butter in a baking dish and roast for 35 minutes, or until lightly browned, tossing occasionally. Drizzle with honey and roast for another five to eight minutes before serving.
Roasted parsnips and carrots
II 500g chestnuts
II 1kg Brussels sprouts
II 30g butter
II Nutmeg, fresh and grated
Make slits in the skins of the chestnuts and put them in a saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for ten minutes. Drain and leave until cool enough to peel off the skins.
Meanwhile, pour boiling water in a vegetable steamer till it reached a height of one or two inches. Bring to a boil. Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut a cross in the base of each. Rinse and place them in the first tier of your steamer, cover and allow to steam for 10 to 15 minutes, or until just tender.
Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the chestnuts. Cook until they begin to brown. Add the sprouts and toss together until heated through. Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to taste. Retain the vegetable juices from the steamer to make the gravy.