Sunday, 7 December 2014

How to solve the turkey problem


1. Don't. If turkey were that delicious, we'd eat it all the year round. (Ditto Christmas puddings and mince pies.) Get a nice piece of beef instead.

2. But if you really have to, then there is a proliferation of ridiculous ideas to try to make this most dull of meats just a bit more interesting (see picture for just one of them).Ideas such as dunking it in brine (Nigella, I think) to everything from yaks' milk to bats' urine (anon) are helpfully suggested to assist the desperate cook, but I think all turkey (and I've had a lot of Chrstmases. And yes. I've cooked a lot of turkeys) taste exactly the same. Dry and rubbery. Today's paper suggests "perry-brined turkey with pear, ginger and leek stuffing". Really? Is that honestly going to do the business? Can anyone be bothered?

And then there are all the "trimmings". The sausages and bacon and bread sauce and cranberry sauce and red cabbage (relatively new, I think) and sprouts (which have ruined many a child's Christmas meal) etc etc etc.

Cold turkey is good on Boxing Day, I'll grant you that, but after that, you still have that strangely sinewy carcass to deal with. For the other thing about turkey is that, large or small,  it always seems to outstay its welcome. Long after the celebrations are over, its remnants remain, guilty reminders of the sinfulness of Waste.

So - aploogies to all turkey lovers (there must be some somewhere) and special apologies to T, D, B, and J, my children, for making them eat all those sprouts. At least now that your're all grown up, you have a choice.

24 comments:

  1. Its a ritual that we all have to get right. We make it as easy as we can by letting the butcher do the boning and rolling, so the turkey does retain more juices. Delia has a recipe for Christmas pudding that can be made and microwaved on the day. But what if it goes wrong? No, I'll stick to a bought one. At least the planning is easy. It's only a roast dinner after all.

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    1. A roast dinner arousing very high expectations, Maggie!

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  2. Hi, my name is Bob, and I am a turkey lover.

    No, really -- I could eat turkey every single day of the year.

    My wife and my son both do the following to keep a turkey moist. Take 1/2 cup butter and oregano and basil. Smear it under the breast skin and on top of all of the rest of the turkey. Stuff the cavity with a quartered orange, quartered lemon, and quartered onion. Celery can also be used. (My son, I think, added pears as well). Makes a very moist, flavorful roast turkey.

    It's east tol "be bothered" after we've tasted the perfect bird. Okay, the almost-perfect bird.

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    1. Ah, but you illustrate just what I mean, Bob. All that work.....

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  3. We always had lamb when the kids were growing up. Lamb. Mint sauce. Simples.

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  4. I'm sorry to say Frances but if it's tough and rubbery then, rather like squid, it's been over-cooked. I, too, was told to put butter under the breast skin. I love all the trimmings (better than the meat) and I also love sprouts. I cook mine al dente with walnuts.

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    1. I love sprouts too, Graham, but all kids seem to hate them. I totally agree about al dente.

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  5. Graham, can I come to your Christmas dinner? Sprouts cooked al dente with walnuts sounds heavenly! As for the meat, I like it when it is not too dry (which can be avoided) but don't insist on having meat at all. The trimmings are filling enough. Mince pies - now that is a different matter. I've never tasted one, but from the description I've read on wikipedia, I don't think I'd enjoy that.

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    1. Mince pies are quite rich, Meike. I make them, but don't much like eating them.

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  6. Just a posh Sunday lunch really isn't it? Turkey is best cold the next day, and I love sprouts!

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    1. Turkey the next day....now you're talking, Libby.

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  7. I agree with you. It is vastly overrated. I have never had a free range one and suspect they would be slightly better.
    Try boiling it for five hours.

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  8. I agree with you Frances…dry and tasteless. I much prefer the " trimmings"…however, this year one of my sons and his fiancee are doing the cooking and we shall be having beef. They were worried that I would feel "put out" if they did it, but I couldn't be happier. I shall, for once, enjoy Christmas Day……I hope they realise that they will have started something they can't stop!! Hope you are feeling a bit better and your infection is under control.

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    1. Thanks, Frances. I'm much better. And my son and his wife are doing Christmas lunch. Life is looking good!

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  9. My family agrees, France. I cook duck, goose or beef for them and a nut-roast for me. As for the soaking in this and the sousing in that and the simmering in something else, I don't have time or inclination. I'd rather be wrapping presents.
    I'm the only one who eats the sprouts, but by the end of Christmas, I happily ignore them for another year. x

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    1. Yes. Why DO we eat sprouts at Christmas?

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    2. Goodness, you're all scaring me! I'm attempting turkey for the first time this year -- I've bought one with no legs or wings. Strange looking but I figured no-one wanted the wings and legs anyway ! Butter under the skin sound like the best idea to me.

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    3. Helsie the legs are the only bits with any flavour! Is it too late to get them back?

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  10. Have to admit I always cook turkey with all the trimmings on Christmas Day! It's such a ritual in my house that I think we'd have to go away to void it. But I also cook ham to go with the cold turkey on boxing day and I make trifle instead of Christmas pudding.

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    1. I think the smell is the best part, Rosemary. I would agree that Cristmas morning has to smell of roasting turkey. You could always throw it away afterwards....

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  11. I always buy a smallish (5-7 kilo) Turkey. I buy one that is free range, maize fed, and not over plump looking. They are always very tasty, very moist, and the left-overs are delicious. No, it HAS to be Turkey.

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    1. Oh, go on then. You're probably right, Cro.

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