You will need to buy an oven-proof meat thermometer
(if you haven’t already got one) and plenty of wide
turkey foil. If you are stuffing the bird, only put
the stuffing in the neck end (the round end of the turkey),
not the cavity, because you need the heat to penetrate
from the inside as well as from the outside in order
to cook the bird.
Roughly chop some celery, carrots, leeks and onions
put in the bottom of your roasting tin, together with
a few garlic cloves, a small bunch of thyme and a bay
leaf. Ensure there is plenty to cover the bottom of
the tray and then put the turkey on top, laying it on
its back. Put some more sprigs of thyme (and other fresh
herbs if you have them – such as sage, rosemary and
parsley) and a bay leaf into the cavity and spread butter
all over the exposed part of the bird. Pour a pint of
fresh chicken stock or a combination of stock and red
or white wine into the roasting tin.
Lay two long sheets of foil on your kitchen surface
(one widthways, one lengthways) to make a big cross,
then place your roasting tin on top of it. Bring up
the foil and seal firmly, leaving the parcel loose enough
for plenty of air to circulate around the bird.
Feel around for the thigh meat and push the thermometer
through the foil into the thickest part of the thigh.
Place the turkey into a pre-heated oven at 220°C,
gas mark 7, 425°F, ensuring that the turkey thermometer
is visible through the oven window. After half an hour,
reduce the heat to 180°C, gas mark 4, 350°F.
Let the turkey cook until the thermometer in the thigh
shows 72°C, then fold back the foil to allow the
bird to brown. At 72°C, whilst it is safe, you will
still notice pink around the bone and on the inside
of the thigh. Some people find this off-putting, so
I like to take it up to 80°C – the bird will still
be moist but thoroughly cooked. Remove to a warm place
and cover with foil to “rest” while you make your gravy.
Following this method, expect a 15 – 20lb turkey
to cook in around three and a half hours.
To start with, you need a good potato. Choose a floury
type such as King Edward or Maris Piper. Peel and cut
longways through the narrow side, so you have one flat
surface and one round surface. Put them into water and
boil for 15 – 18 minutes until the edges start to break
up. Drain well then dry them slightly over heat in a
metal colander. Toss them vigorously in flour seasoned
with salt, pepper, chopped thyme and a hint of cayenne
pepper and throw them around to break up the edges and
make them craggy. In a roasting tin, heat up some goose
fat mixed with dripping (about a centimetre deep) until
it is very hot, then carefully put the potatoes into
the fat (on whichever side you wish, round or flat,
but keep them all the same) and baste them. Cook in
a very hot oven for around 20 minutes, then drain off
the fat into a pot (so you can re-use it) before returning
to the oven for another 20/25 minutes. This will give
you a crispy outside and lovely, fluffy middle.
For some families, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas
without a turkey. lf yours is one of them, here is my
extra-special recipe, which always goes down a treat
in the Worrall Thompson household. But if you fancy
ringing the changes this year, l've suggested some alternatives
that will feel — and taste — equally special on the
It’s better not to buy a frozen turkey, especially
if it’s a last-minute purchase. lf you do choose a frozen
bird, allow one day’s defrosting for every 10Ib. Turkey
should always be defrosted in a refrigerator, never
at room temperature or under hot or cold water, so even
a small bird can take two days, while an 11kg (25Ib)
bird may need as long as five days to thaw.
Goose makes an excellent alternative to turkey for
a larger family - but if you want one, order now from
a butcher or farm shop.
If you’re making the crusted fillet of beef, choose
a cut with plenty of marbling (fine threads of fat)
as this increases the juiciness, tenderness and flavour
of the meat.
For the baked ham with Coca-Cola, do not use Diet
Coke. lt won’t work, as you need sugar for this dish.
110g (402) pancetta 55g (202) butter 1 medium
onion, Hnely chopped 1 carrot, peeled and finely
diced 1 celery stick, finely diced 1 Ieek (about
200g/702), washed and thinly sliced 1 garlic clove,
mashed to a paste with a little salt Leaves from
2 rosemary sprigs 175g (602) fresh white breadcrumbs 75g
(302) Hnely grated Parmesan Finely grated zest of
1 small lemon
3 tbsps chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves Chicken
stock, to moisten 1 medium egg, beaten Salt and
black pepper :
Melt the butter in a pan over a : medium heat. Add
the pancetta, carrot, onion and celery and fry, stinring
occasionally, until soft but not browned. Add the Ieek
and chopped rosemary and cook for a further 3 minutes.
Transfer to a mixing bowl and leave to cool.
Stir in the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, lemon zest, garlic
and parsley, followed by a little stock, the beaten
egg and black pepper. Work with your hands until you
have a stufting-like consistency. Season. Bake in the
oven for 40 minutes at 180°C/350°F/gas 4 or
use to stuff the turkey and follow the timings for the
lf you are vegetarlan lt's OK to leave the pancetta
out. The stuffing wlll still taste good.
Severs 6 450g (1lb) parsnips, peeled and cut into
5cm (2in) batons 450g (1lb) camots, peeled and cut
into 5cm (2in) batons 6 shallots, peeled 1 tsp
thyme, chopped 2 tbsps liquid honey 1 tbsp balsamic
vinegar Salt Ground black pepper 4 tbsps of
olive oil 2 tbsps chopped parsley
Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F/gas 5. Then
place the parsnlps, carrots, shallots and thyme in a
bowl and toss with the olive oil. Place the vegetables
in a tray, then pop in the oven and cook for 45 minutes,
stirring from time to time.
About 5 minutes before the end of cooking, toss the
vegetables with the honey and vinegan season with salt
and ground black pepper and retum to the oven to finish
Just before sewing, toss with the parsley.
With a lot of veggies to chop and not much time,
lt’s all too easy for accidents to happen. But no one
wants a Christmas trip to casualty, so concentrate,
don't rush, and make sure you're working on a stable
lf you tind you are short on oven space with the
turkey in there too, blanch the parsnips and carrots
in boiling salted water, drain them and then pan fry
with butter and oil and the rest of the ingredients.
a large bowl mix together the currants, sultanas, raisins,
almonds and glace cherries (if using). Pour over
250ml (9 fl oz) of brandy, and set aside to marinate,
together the butter and sugar until fluffy and creamy.
Mix together the flour, salt and spice.
beat in one quarter of the egg followed by one quarter
of the flour, repeat this until you have incorporated
all the egg and flour into the mixture.
the marinated fruit along with the marinade and stir
the mixture into a 12 inch lined square cake tin. Using
a palate knife even out the surface, leaving a slight
well in the centre so that when the cake is cooked it
is flat. Cover the top of the cake with greaseproof
paper, make a small hole in it to allow some of the
heat to escape.
on the second shelf from the bottom of a preheated oven,
150°C/gas mark 2 for 4 and a half -5 hours. Remove
from the oven, place on a wire rack and allow to cool.
completely cooled, wrap well in silver foil and leave
for 10-14 days. Unwrap the cake and prick which
was the top but will be the bottom when iced, with a
skewer all over and then drizzle over the remaining
brandy. Wrap again in foil and leave for a week
before you marzipan and then ice the cake.
Christmas cake - this is quite a boozy cake, making
lovely and moist. Do feel free to feed it with
a little extra booze if you want to. Wait for
2 weeks before icing the cake.