Elizabeth David’s turkey with herb and butter stuffing
The sanest words ever written about the Christmas turkey come from a Frenchman, Marcel Boulestin. “Take a turkey about nine or ten pounds [a good 4kg] in weight. There is no point in having a larger bird unless you are particularly fond of cold turkey. As it is, the one chosen will do once hot, once cold, once for rissoles, and the bones, etc, will be the making of a perfectly good soup.”
To that serious advice so lightly given I can add only a plea that the “rissoles” – by which Boulestin didn’t mean quite what is usually understood by the term – and the “perfectly good soup” be as swiftly made and consumed as is compatible with post-Christmas fatigue and surfeit.
For the stuffing for a 4.5-5.5kg/ 10-12lb turkey, mix 250g/½lb of very fine breadcrumbs (made from bread dried, but not coloured, in the oven), the grated rind of 2 large lemons, the juice of 1, 6-8 tablespoons (45-60g/ 1½-2oz, without stalks) of finely chopped parsley, with a little thyme, lemon thyme and marjoram if available, a very little salt, freshly milled pepper, 250g/½lb of unsalted butter and 3 whole, well-beaten eggs.
Taste the mixture when it is all evenly blended; at this stage the lemon flavour should be quite pronounced, for it will lessen in the cooking; and, above all, poultry stuffing should not emerge tasting predominantly of bread.
The mixture can be made 2 or 3 days in advance, but do not take it frozen stiff from the refrigerator and put it straight into the bird, for the heat takes a long time to penetrate and if over-chilled the butter in the stuffing does not then start its work of lubricating the bird from the early stages of cooking.
Having stuffed the bird (crop and body), rub it very lavishly with softened butter, putting the lumps between the thighs and body; there can hardly be too much. Wrap it in equally lavishly buttered foil, put the bird on its side on a rack standing in a tin, and in the tin put a cupful or so of water. Have the oven preheated to very moderate, 170C/gas mark 3. A bird of this size takes 3–3½ hours to cook; at half-time it should be turned over, and 30 minutes before it is to be served take away the paper and turn the bird breast upwards in the oven, so that it acquires a fine golden-brown surface.
The buttery juices in the pan are to be poured off into a small saucepan, a little glass of white wine or vermouth added, and the whole given a quick turn over the fire. For extra gravy, the giblets will already the previous day have been simmered gently with vegetables, herbs and, for my taste, a small piece – say 250-375g/½–¾lb – of beef or veal to give extra flavour, for the taste of the stock produced by turkey giblets is rather insipid.
One more word about cooking the turkey. Do not try to cook a bird which practically fills your oven at a temperature very much higher than the one I have given. This is a point where one may very well be led astray by the temperature and timing given by professional chefs, for they are, probably, cooking in very large ovens in which there is plenty of room for air to circulate all round the object cooking. In small domestic ovens, all that happens if you attempt to cook your turkey in a hurry at high heat is that the outside of the bird is scorched long before the heat has penetrated the interior. And make sure that your turkey is still not half-frozen from the refrigerator when you put it in the oven.
The herb and butter stuffing is delicious for a roast capon or chicken. For a large bird, about 2.5kg/5-6 lb, allow half quantities. If any is left over, use it for stuffing tomatoes to be baked and served with the chicken. A capon can be cooked in the same way, allowing approximately 2 hours’ cooking time.
Adapted from Elizabeth David’s Christmas, compiled by Jill Norman (Michael Joseph, £14.99)
Sam and Sam Clark’s duck fattee with chickpea pilaf, pomegranates, aubergines and walnuts
Fit for a king, this is an elaborate and celebratory dish, but well worth the effort. We often serve this at Christmas at Moro, as it feels so festive. It really pays off to get a damn good duck and roast it in style.
pomegranate seeds of 1 large (about 150-175g seeds) – squeeze half the seeds to make juice (see directions)
Barbary or Gressingham duck 1, weighing about 2.5kg
fine sea salt 1 dsp
ground cinnamon ¼ heaped tsp
For the crispbread
unsalted butter 25g
pitta breads 2
For the chickpea pilaf
unsalted butter 75g
cinnamon 4cm stick
onion ½ large, thinly sliced
basmati rice 300g, soaked in tepid water for 1 hour
chickpeas 400g tin, drained
light chicken stock 450ml
For the fried aubergine
aubergines 1 large or 2 medium, cut into 2cm cubes
fine sea salt 1 tsp
olive oil 6 tbsp
To layer up the fattee
good-quality Greek yogurt 500g, such as Total, mixed with 6 tbsp water and ½ garlic clove, crushed
flat-leaf parsley 1 medium bunch (about 30g), leaves picked
walnuts 75g, broken roughly
pomegranate seeds of 1 large (about 150-175g seeds), plus leftover seeds from above
To make pomegranate juice, cut the pomegranate in half, break open each half and pick out the seeds, being careful not to include any of the pith, as it is very bitter. Put half the seeds in a sieve set over a bowl and crush them with your hands as much as possible to extract the juice. Then push them against the sieve with the back of a large spoon to extract as much remaining juice as you can.
Preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8. To roast the duck, dry the skin with a tea towel and remove the giblets.
Rub the skin with the sea salt and ground cinnamon and place breast-side down on a rack in a roasting tray. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn over and roast for 20 minutes on the other side. Turn the oven down to 180C/gas mark 4 and roast for a further 2 hours.
While the duck is roasting, prepare the crispbread. Melt the butter over a low heat. As it is melting, warm the pitta in the oven for a couple of minutes, then carefully split each bread open into two halves and brush the butter on both sides. Place the halves on a rack on the middle shelf of the oven and bake for 15–20 minutes, until golden.
For the chickpea pilaf, heat the butter with the cinnamon in a medium saucepan until it foams. Add the onion and fry over a medium heat for about 15 minutes, until sweet and golden. Drain the rice well and add it to the onion.
Fry for a minute, stirring to coat it in the butter, then add the chickpeas and chicken stock, along with a good pinch of salt. Cover with a circle of greaseproof paper and a tight-fitting lid and boil for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat and leave to rest, covered, for at least 10 minutes before serving.
Toss the aubergine cubes with the sea salt and leave in a colander for 20 minutes. Pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat the olive oil in a wide frying pan or a large wok over a high flame. Add the aubergine cubes and fry for about 15 minutes, until soft and brown. Place on kitchen paper to blot any excess oil. Keep warm.
When the duck is cooked, remove it from the oven, place on a carving board and pour off any excess fat from the roasting tray. Put the tray over a medium heat and pour in the pomegranate juice, stirring to deglaze. Season with salt and pepper.
At this stage, it is just a question of layering things up on one or more big platters or serving dishes. Everything needs to be hot apart from the crispbread and yogurt. The duck needs to be carved into small pieces, breast off the bone, the thighs in half, then it can be gently warmed in the oven if necessary, but try to time it so it stays hot and crisp.
The order to layer your plate is first half the crispbread, broken by hand into pieces, then the pilaf, then the duck, then the aubergine, then a drizzling of the pomegranate sauce, then the remaining crispbread, the yogurt and finally lots of parsley leaves, the walnuts and the pomegranate seeds. Eat right away – a feast on a plate.
From Moro East by Samuel and Samantha Clark (Ebury Press, £17.50)
Sally Clarke’s roasted onion squash and cep with sage, parmesan polenta and mascarpone
Vegetarians and Christmas used not to be a perfect marriage. While everyone else was being offered goose, turkey or capon, the poor non-meat-eaters could be made to feel left out. Nowadays, however, most tastes are willingly catered for by the cook, especially at Christmas.
The following recipe, while designed to appeal to those who prefer a vegetable and fruit diet, could comfortably find a place at any table over the festive season. It would be equally perfect as an accompaniment to the more traditional fare of roasted meats or birds.
onion squash 2 small to medium
olive oil 60ml
sage 1 tbsp, chopped, plus a few large leaves
garlic 2 cloves, crushed to a paste
cep, portobello or field mushrooms 6 (or use a selection of other wild mushrooms)
For the polenta
bay leaves 4
garlic 2 cloves, crushed to a paste
sage 1 tsp, chopped
coarse polenta 500g
parmesan 100g, freshly grated, plus extra for serving at the table
Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3½. Wash the squash and remove the skin carefully with a sharp knife. Cut the flesh into even-sized wedges (discarding the seeds) and place in a bowl. Drizzle generously with olive oil, season with sea salt and pepper and the chopped sage and garlic paste. Jumble the wedges together so that all surfaces are well coated in the marinade. Arrange the squash in an ovenproof dish that is large enough to hold all the vegetables. (Retain the remaining marinade in the bowl.) Roast the squash in the oven for 20–30 minutes, or until they start to colour at the edges and soften a little.
While the squash is roasting, trim the mushrooms of any discoloured parts and cut in half or quarters, depending on their size. Toss them gently in the bowl with the remaining marinade until well coated. Remove the squash from the oven and arrange the mushrooms in and around it. Scatter with the whole sage leaves. Return to the oven and roast for a further 20 minutes, or until all the vegetables are soft when pierced with a knife, but golden at the edges.
Meanwhile, for the polenta, bring the milk, water, bay leaves, garlic and chopped sage to a gentle simmer. Using a whisk, add the polenta to the liquid little by little. Once it has all been incorporated and is smooth, continue stirring with a wooden spoon as it thickens. This may take up to 15 minutes, depending on the type of polenta, but it is important that the polenta loses its graininess as it cooks. Remove the bay leaves.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the butter and half the grated parmesan. Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Pour the polenta into a serving dish, scraping the pan clean with a plastic spatula. Scatter the remaining parmesan over the surface and dot with generous dollops of mascarpone. Cover and leave in a warm oven until ready to serve.
Serve the roasted vegetables with a scoop of the soft polenta on the side, a drizzle of good olive oil, and a bowl of freshly grated parmesan at the table.
Sally Clarke is owner of Clarke’s Restaurant, Shop and Bakery, 124 Kensington Church Street, London W8 4BH; 020 7221 9225; sallyclarke.com
Rory O’Connell’s chocolate prune and armagnac puddings
These puddings are delicious and without doubt made for chocolate lovers. Although not molten in the centre, they are soft and yielding.
The combination of ingredients is a classic one but has timeless appeal. The cooked puddings will sit happily in a warm oven for at least an hour before serving, and indeed could be made ahead of time, allowed to cool and reheated in a bain marie in a warm oven.
The prunes in the recipe can be replaced with cherries, a delicious variation, in which case I would soak them in kirsch. Cognac can replace the slightly dryer armagnac with the prunes.
The pudding can be cooked in a large dish, or in individual ramekins or even teacups. Prunes vary in quality, so look out for juicy-looking ones with their stones still in. I get the ones known as Agen prunes.
For the prunes
prunes 225g, weighed after removing the stones
armagnac or brandy 4 tbsp
For the pudding
chocolate, best-quality, 62% cocoa solids 150g
unsalted butter 150g
warm water 150ml
caster sugar 110g
vanilla extract 1 tsp
plain white flour 110g, sieved
cream of tartar a pinch
icing sugar a dusting
softly whipped cream
Put the prunes into a bowl with the brandy and leave to soak overnight.
Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6 and get ready either a 2-litre ovenproof pie or gratin dish, or ten 200ml ramekins or teacups of a similar volume. If you plan to serve the individual puddings unmoulded from their containers, you will need to paint them with melted butter before adding the mixture. You will also need a roasting tin about 4cm deep, large enough to accommodate the ramekins or dish.
Cut the chocolate into small pieces and put it into a Pyrex bowl with the butter. Place over a saucepan of cold water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Place on a low heat – don’t let the water do more than simmer. While the chocolate is melting, tear or chop the armagnac-soaked prunes into smaller pieces, about 1cm, and either divide them between the ramekins or spread them over the base of the large dish. If there is some armagnac that has not soaked into the prunes, save it for adding to the cream later.
When the chocolate is nearly melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan and stir with a flexible rubber spatula to blend the chocolate with the butter. Add the water, sugar and vanilla and mix with a whisk until smooth. Separate the eggs, placing the whites in a spotlessly clean bowl for whisking later. Whisk the yolks into the chocolate mixture, followed by the sieved flour.
Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of cream of tartar until holding soft but definite peaks. Do not allow them to over-whip and take on a grainy appearance. Stir a quarter of the egg white into the chocolate mixture and fold in the remainder with a heavy flexible spatula, making sure no lumps of egg white remain unblended.
Divide the mixture between the ramekins, or put it all into the one dish, and immediately place in the roasting tin. Pour boiling water into the tin, to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins or dish.
Cook in the oven for 10 minutes, then lower the temperature to 160C/gas mark 3 for a further 10 minutes if using individual dishes or a further 20 minutes for a large dish. The puddings will appear cooked on top but will feel a little soft and molten in the centre.
Remove the roasting tin carefully from the oven and allow the puddings to sit for at least 10 minutes before serving.
The individual puddings can be turned out on to warmed plates for serving. The large dish can be brought to the table as it is. Regardless, I dust the puddings with a little sieved icing sugar just before serving.
Pass softly whipped cream separately. I sometimes serve chocolate sauce with these as well.
From Master It by Rory O’Connell (Fourth Estate, £25)
Nigel Slater’s warm marzipan buns
Designed to be eaten warm, these little buns are no quick treat. But if you have time to play, they are wonderful to wake up to on Boxing Day morning.
Makes 15 buns
For the dough
strong bread flour 450g
dried easy bake yeast 7g
golden caster sugar 2 tsp
warm water about 350ml
egg 1, beaten
For the filling
clementines zest of 2
pistachios 100g, chopped
flaked almonds 75g, toasted
dark chocolate 50g
Put the flour into a large bowl, sprinkle in the dried yeast and the sugar then pour in enough of the water to make a soft but rollable dough. It should be a little sticky. Tip the dough onto a floured board and knead for a good 6 minutes, or use a food mixer fitted with a dough hook.
Leave the dough in the bowl, in a warm place, covered with a piece of cling film or a tea towel, for about an hour, till well risen.
While the dough is proving, make the filling. Break the marzipan into small pieces and drop them into a mixing bowl or food processor with the clementine zest, the pistachios and the almonds. Chop the chocolate into small pieces the size of coarse gravel, then add to the marzipan and mix thoroughly. Set the oven at 220C/gas mark 7.
Tear the bread dough into 15 pieces then flatten and roll each into a small disc about 8cm in diameter. Brush the edge of one of the pieces of bread dough with beaten egg, then place a ball of the marzipan in the centre. Bring the dough around the ball of marzipan, pressing the edges very tightly to seal. (A little filling will probably escape during baking anyway). Place the ball of dough into a very lightly oiled muffin tin, then continue with the rest of the dough and marzipan mixtures.
Brush each ball of dough with some of the beaten egg, then pierce a tiny hole in the top of each and bake for 10 minutes till golden.
Eat while they are still oozing warm almond paste.