Well, you can't ask for more than that, really - can you?
I must come straight out and say that the lovely people at Knorr were kind enough to send me the wonderful Foreman & Field box of goodies that enabled me to post up this "how to" blog post. I have been the fortunate recipient of a number of these boxes - and would like to just say a public thank you to Knorr and to Jen Harris at Golin Harris, their P.R. people, for all the terrific produce that has graced my cooker in the past year.
I wasn't expecting such a huge box this year, but in it came with hubby buckling at the knees under the weight. Impressive, eh?
Inside the box, there was the following :
· SELDOM SEEN FARM TURKEY 4.5-5.5kg
· LONGMAN’S FARM BUTTER 250g
· EMMETT'S MILD CURE BACK BACON 250g
· FORMAN & FIELD CHRISTMAS STUFFING
· SELECTION OF FRESH HERBS
· 1 X ORANGE
· 12 x LUXURY MINCE PIES
· CHAPEL DOWN NECTAR DESSERT WINE
· 2 Knorr Chicken Gravy Pots.
Well, the turkey speaks for itself - and I'll deal with that in detail in a minute or so.
The Longman's Farm Butter is unsalted and is the most glorious, creamy butter. I have to admit that I felt it would be a shame to use it in this way and it is far nicer enjoyed on crackers with cheese, or on hot toast, so I used a supermarket unsalted butter. Sssssh! Don't tell!
The Emmett's bacon is so intensely smoked, it has an amazing aroma and three rashers is very definitely all that was needed! I have intentions of using the remainder of the bacon in a French Chicken with peas & bacon recipe, in which it should be glorious.
Now, a word about the Christmas Stuffing. It comes already frozen, so don't try and freeze it again - and use it as soon as you can. Last year's pack got left in the fridge for 2 days and was simply horrid - it wound up in the bin. This year's pack got cooked off on the day of delivery and the cooked stuffing balls are in the freezer. It has a lovely flavour, being mixed with pork sausage meat, chestnuts and cranberries - but it very definitely won't wait.
The herbs and the orange are, well, herbs and an orange. ~shrug~ What can I say? Oh, except to say that the Foreman & Field parsley seems to be the nicest smelling parsley I've come across to date. It's so fresh!
The mince pies are definitely to.die.for. There is a hint of either vanilla or almond in the pastry - can't decide which - that marries the pastry up with the mincemeat so well! I'm going to be using two of these in a frozen yoghurt recipe. Hopefully, I'll make that tonight.
As for the dessert wine, well, I have yet to try that one - but it's from the Tenterden Vineyards. What's not to like?
Now the recipe below follows Marco Pierre-White's recipe which is available from here where there is a printable version. One thing I would mention, is that my timings are slightly different from his, for some obscure reason. I followed the recipe that came in the box - but the recipe online is slightly different. So you might like to just make a note of the timings I used, provided your turkey is also in the 4.5-5.5kg range.
ROAST TURKEY - FROM ARRIVAL TO CARVING
|See that plastic bag peeping out? Remove it!|
First job - unwrap your turkey and have a good look at it. Is there anything that needs removing? There may be whole feathers that might have been missed in the plucking or the bag of giblets that will be tucked into the cavity. Believe me, roasting a bird with its plastic bag of giblets still inside, does not make for a tasty bird. No. No. So, for goodness' sake, just have a peep (out of one eye, if you're squeamish) and check. One smooth move from the bird to the bin will take care of those giblets. For those who either a) don't mind the smell of them cooking or b) have no sense of smell, put them in a bowl and use them to make the gravy with. Be my guest.
|By 'eck, 'twas a buxom bird!|
Back to the turkey. Or in fact, back to the flavoursome butter mixture that you're going to be putting under the skin of the turkey breast, that will both flavour the bird and keep the breast from drying out in the oven. In this instance, I'm using orange, rosemary, parsley and bacon. Don't feel you have to do the same! You can use whatever combination of herbs, herbs plus bacon, bacon plus fruit, an assortment of spices, BBQ sauce - whatever floats your boat, to mix with the butter. However, the butter is a necessary thing, as that's what keeps your turkey moist.
So - assuming you're using the same as I did - get a bowl and grate just the zest from the orange into it. Don't include any of the white pith in there, as it is bitter and nasty. Take three of the bacon rashers and remove the rind. Chop the bacon finely and add to the bowl. Take the rosemary and pick the leaves from all but three stems. Chop the leaves very small and place them into the bowl. Cut the stems from the parsley and chop the leaves finely - and put them into the bowl too. Add a good pinch of freshly ground black pepper and 200g of unsalted butter. Using your hands, scrunch everything together until well mixed.
Next, decide which roasting tin you are going to use for the turkey and line it with a doubled over piece of silver foil. I added the bacon rind and parsley stalks to the tin, just to capitalise on any flavour that was going. I always think it's a terrible shame to throw potential flavour in the bin!
Right, so now it's time to get up close and personal with this turkey.
|Take a deep breath - this won't hurt a bit!|
What we're aiming to do, is to create a pocket between the skin and the breast meat. You can do this by pushing your fingers through the membrane that connects the two - yes, I know it's gross but it's over quickly! I found that my little fat fingers didn't reach far enough along the breast, so I used a blunt ended tablespoon and pushed that in as far as it would reach, bowl side up. The object of the exercise, is not to pierce the skin at all - otherwise all your butter will run directly out as soon as it melts.
|See? Short fat fingers - no hope of reaching far enough!|
Once your pockets are done, divide your butter mix into two and squeeze one half into each pocket. You'll find they arrive in one lump, but by smoothing with your thumb along the top of the skin, you'll find you can encourage the lump to thin out and before long you'll have both breasts looking all buttered up and lovely. There's just one thing left to do, which is to take a cocktail stick and use it to "stitch" the neck hole shut. This will stop the solids inside the flavoured butter from escaping.
|A fine bit of cocktail stitchery!|
Tuck the remaining three sprigs of rosemary down the side of each leg - between the leg and the breast - and tuck one into the cavity, for luck.
|Almost looks attractive, now!|
I then seasoned the bird with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and added a final flourish with a few pinches of Sumac. Sumac has a fresh citrus flavour and would go very well with the orange, I felt. You could easily add more herbs, or more spices - whatever will go with what you've used in the flavoured butter.
So there you have it! One turkey, all ready for the oven.
The last thing to do before committing it to the heat, is to place a large piece of silver foil over the top - effectively sealing the turkey in - and crimp it closed all around the roasting tin.
You should have your oven pre-heated to 220degC/200degC(fan)/425degF/Gas 7 - yes, that hot! - so place your turkey in the middle of the oven for the next 30 minutes.
|What your turkey should look like, once you uncover it!|
I gave my turkey the full 3 hours, at the end of which you remove the turkey from the oven and remove its silver foil cover. Baste the turkey with the cooking juices that will have accumulated in the pan (we tipped ours out into a jug and poured it over - it was a two man job, but worth doing!) and replace it - without the silver foil lid - for another 30 minutes at an increased temperature of 200degC/180degC(fan)/400degF/Gas 6 to gain that lovely golden colour.
|See? "Lovely golden colour" - I wasn't joking either!|
|Turkey - meet platter. Or should that be "turkey meat platter"?|
By this time, it is quite right to feel as though you've been faffing around with this damned turkey ALL FLIPPING DAY! Believe me, it is worth it though.
|Just look at that and think of the admiration of your peers - this, too, could be yours|
Congratulations! Your turkey is now ready to carve!