A luxurious and traditional turkey dinner, but with a Mexican twist, and a really special stuffing roll you can make ahead to save time
The fun of planning, cooking and eating delicious food comes into its element at Christmas.
I love thinking about what we might eat at every stage – with allowances for long, brisk walks peppered between feasting. If I can make anything in advance, I will: a smoky chilli raisin relish for ham; a delicious compote for breakfasts; some spiced nuts for drinks; every breakfast, lunch and dinner is an opportunity to eat something special.
Although we often have beef, this year we are having a turkey, in homage to Mexico. If you are many, a standard size will do well, but otherwise you could opt for an extra-small bird (KellyBronze do an approximate 2kg one, and Copas a 4kg one), meaning less cooking and a lot less leftovers. Happy Christmas.
Baby roast turkey with fino sherry, apricot and thyme stuffing rotolo
I love cooking the stuffing separately from the bird: it makes the cooking quicker, and the rolled stuffing looks spectacular on the table. If you have a larger bird, consider cutting away the legs and freezing them to cook another day: I love to slow-roast them at 170C (150C fan)/gas 3 and serve with a richly spiced tomato sauce. You could also confit them.
You will need a 30cm x 40cm sheet each of greaseproof paper and tin foil, and two baking trays.
Prep 15 min
Cook 2hr 15 min
1 extra-small bronze turkey (ours was 2kg)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 onions, peeled and chopped
2 sticks celery, diced
1 glass white wine
For the rotolo
3 tbsp olive oil
200g pork mince
Salt and pepper
2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped (about 200g)
6 fat garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 small bunch thyme, leaves stripped from half
10 sage leaves
½ nutmeg, grated
75g butter, softened
150g turkey and chicken livers
3-4 tbsp fino sherry
100g dried apricots, chopped
120g smoked streaky bacon
First, make the stuffing roll (you can do this a day or two ahead). Heat a heavy-based saucepan on a high heat, then add a tablespoon of oil, followed by the mince. Season generously and brown the mince, breaking it up into small pieces with a spoon – about three to four minutes – then tip into a bowl.
Add the rest of the oil to the pan and sweat the onions on a medium-high heat for seven to eight minutes, until translucent. Turn the heat down a little, add half the garlic and thyme, and all the sage, then season again generously with salt, pepper and the nutmeg. Cook for five minutes more, then add to the pork. Turn the heat right up and, once the pan is smoking hot, add a quarter of the butter. Season the livers generously, add to the pan and quickly brown on all sides – about a minute (they will cook through in the oven). Add to the pork, then deglaze the pan with the sherry, letting it bubble for about 30 seconds, before pouring the reduction into the mixing bowl.
Cut up the livers with a pair of scissors, and stir in the apricots and breadcrumbs. Season to taste, remembering that you will be wrapping the stuffing in salty bacon.
Lay a 30cm x 40cm sheet of foil on a board with a sheet of greaseproof paper the same size on top. Butter the middle of the paper with another quarter of the butter, then lay out the bacon, slightly overlapping, along the length of the paper. Spoon the stuffing along the length of the bacon, shaping it into a fat sausage. With the help of the paper, gently roll up the stuffing, using extra bacon to patch up any holes, so the sausage is entirely enveloped. Chill for up to two days, and take it out half an hour before you want to cook it.
Heat the oven to 180C (160C fan)/gas 4. Season the turkey inside and out with salt, pepper and the rest of the butter. Put the vegetables in a roasting tray with the rest of the thyme and garlic, season generously and put the turkey on top. Pour in half the wine and roast for an hour. After half an hour, put in the stuffing. When the meat hits 55C, remove and rest, covered, somewhere warm for half an hour. Turn up the oven to 200C (180C fan)/gas 6, unwrap the stuffing and roast for a final 15 minutes.
Make a gravy using the vegetables and juices in the turkey pan and the remaining wine, and serve with the bird and the stuffing.