Potted prawns make a welcome change from traditional smoked salmon. Serve them with curly Melba toast, savoury biscuits or simple slices of toast.
400-500g shelled raw prawns
2 shallots, sliced
2 pinches ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
150ml non-vintage champagne
100g unsalted butter
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
25g (total weight) chopped parsley and dill, plus sprigs to garnish
Put the uncooked prawns, shallots, nutmeg, salt and champagne into a saucepan and cook over a medium heat until the blue flesh turns firm and pink. Drain the prawns, reserving the liquid and set aside. Squeeze the juice of the lemon into the pan liquid and reduce down to 3 tablespoonfuls. Chop the prawns and divide among 6-8 ramekins. Pour over the reduced liquid and leave to cool. Melt the butter in a saucepan and cool to warm. Stir in the pepper and chopped herbs, then spoon over each ramekin. Leave to cool completely, then garnish with herb sprigs and chill. Refrigerate for up to 3 days before use, and the flavour will actually improve.
FOR THE TURKEY
5kg Bronze turkey or other fresh turkey (not frozen), ideally outdoor raised, trussed
1 red onion, halved
250g stale bread, cubed
30g (total weight) parsley, thyme and tarragon, de-stalked and snipped
2 shallots, sliced
1D2 teaspoon sea salt
1D2 teaspoon ground white or black pepper
12 dried apricots, snipped
25g fresh ginger, sliced thinly then shredded
FOR THE SAUCE
120ml chicken bouillon concentrate or 2 chicken stock cubes, crumbled
4 shakes Worcestershire sauce
450ml dry Marsala
1 head garlic, halved crosswise
200g redcurrant jelly, chopped or mashed
3 tablespoons arrowroot
8 or 12 tiny bunches of fresh table grapes
Bunch of fresh parsley, bay and thyme, and rocket leaves to garnish
Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 6 (200°C, 400°F). Remove the giblets from the turkey and push the onion halves inside the cavity, without untying the trussing strings. Remove the fat inside the vent and snip into small pieces. Put the fat strips, bread, herbs, shallots, seasoning, apricots and half the ginger into a food processor. Whizz in 40-second bursts to create a crumbly stuffing. Turn the bird onto its breast. Loosen the trussing strings enough to fill the neck cavity neatly with stuffing. Secure again, and fasten using a wooden cocktail stick, ensuring that the ends are well tucked in. Slide the bird into an extra-large oven-roasting bag, breast first, and set in the roasting pan, breast up. Put the bouillon or crumbled cubes, Worcestershire sauce and Marsala into a measuring jug, and make up to a litre with boiling water.
Add the remaining ginger and stir. Holding the bag ends open, pour in the warm liquid. Seal the bag completely and tie tightly with string. Put the garlic halves, cut sides down, in the pan around the bagged turkey (these will help to prevent the bag from sticking). Pour in about 1cm of boiling water around the outside to create a bain-marie. Cook in the oven for 1 hour, then reduce the heat to Gas Mark 5 (190°C, 375°F) for a further 2-21D2 hours until the bird is golden and the wings look and feel very tender when gently prodded through the bag (this gentler style of cooking takes longer than roasting). Remove the pan from the oven. Pour off the garlicky water. Cut open the bag and discard the bag and string.
Pour the poaching liquid into a heat-proof measuring jug; there should be about 800ml. Return the bird to the oven to continue cooking. Meanwhile, pour the poaching liquid into a large saucepan and hard-boil it down, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until roughly reduced by half. Add the jelly, stir and cook until dissolved. Mix the arrowroot with 8 tablespoons of cold water, stirring until smooth. Whisk this into the Marsala broth and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until a glossy and thick glaze forms. Test the bird is done by piercing one leg joint and holding a spoon underneath; juices should run clear gold, not pink. Pour the glaze all over the bird. Turn off the oven. Leave the bird to rest, with the oven door ajar, for 10 minutes. To serve, set the glazed bird on a heated platter, garnished with small grape bunches, herbs and rocket leaves. Reheat any remaining Marsala glaze and serve as gravy.
Cheat’s bread sauce
Forget endless simmering of onions studded with cloves – this is an easy way to make and enjoy bread sauce, and it takes just 5 minutes.
350 g stale white crustless bread
1 teaspoon sea-salt crystals
4 white peppercorns
1D2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1D2 dried bay leaf, crumbled
550 ml creamy milk
10 cm piece white portion of leek, finely sliced, crosswise
20-25 g knob of salted butter
Tear the bread directly into a food processor and process continuously for 45 seconds to create crumbs. Put the salt, pepper, cloves, nutmeg and bay into a mortar and pound to a fine grit. Add to the crumbs. Bring the milk to the boil and add the leeks and butter. Pour into the processor with the machine running, processing for 1 minute. Pour the thickened sauce into a sauce jug or dish and serve hot, warm or cold.
Warm green salad
This refreshing warm green salad looks wonderful and can be served with the main course, or on its own between the main course and cheese or pudding.
100ml seasoned vegetable stock
400-500g trimmed fine green beans
3 medium leeks, in 1 cm slices
2 heads white chicory
10g chives, snipped into batons
FOR THE DRESSING
15ml tarragon vinegar
60ml first, cold-pressed, unfiltered extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon truffle oil or argan oil
1 teaspoon clear honey
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
Bring the vegetable stock to the boil in a pan and add the beans. Part-cover and cook on a high heat for 3-4 minutes. Add leeks, part-cover again and cook for 3 minutes (the beans and leeks should both be bite-tender). Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool slightly, uncovered. Line your serving bowl or plate with the chicory leaves; then, using tongs, drain and add the beans and some of the leeks to the centre. Scatter with chives, then add the remaining leeks. Thoroughly whisk or shake together the vinegar, oils, honey and mustard. Add 4 tablespoons of the hot vegetable cooking liquid, then whisk again. Serve the dressing in a small jug.
Epicurean roast potatoes
Beautifully crunchy-crisp on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside, these potatoes are the perfect accompaniment to the festive turkey.
8-10 oval-shaped Wilja or Desirée potatoes, peeled, halved crosswise
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons finely crushed garlic
500ml extra-virgin olive oil
250ml grapeseed oil
Chopped fresh parsley to garnish (optional)
The day before serving, put the potatoes into a saucepan of boiling water. Bring to the boil and cover; reduce heat and parboil for 16 minutes. Drain the potatoes and, when cool, mix the pepper, salt and garlic and rub all three over them. Pile the potatoes into a non-reactive bowl and pour over the oils. Leave to stand overnight. Pre-heat the oven to Gas Mark 5 (190°C, 375°F). Drain a third of the oil from the potatoes into a roasting pan and heat for 30 minutes in the oven. Add the potatoes and cook for 11D4 hours, turning halfway through.
Red cabbage compote
You can prepare this dish some hours or a day ahead, if you like, but don’t add the salt until just before serving as it would dull the vibrant colour otherwise.
1 medium red cabbage, halved
2 red onions, halved
2 apples, quartered, cored
4 garlic cloves, crushed
8 juniper berries, crushed
60ml vegetable stock or water
60ml robust red wine
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 orange, halved
75g redcurrant jelly, chopped
1D2 teaspoon sea-salt flakes
Remove the core, shred the cabbage and put it in a heavy-based saucepan. Slice the halved onions and apple quarters thinly and add to the cabbage with the garlic, juniper berries, stock and wine. Drizzle the olive oil over. Squeeze the orange halves into the cabbage, then set them on top, skin sides up. Bring the pan to the boil, then cover and reduce heat. Cook for 15-18 minutes, then discard the orange halves; add the jelly and cook, covered, for 5 minutes or until liquids are syrupy. Stir gently, then season with salt and serve
250g golden caster sugar
300ml red wine, such as Shiraz
1 cinnamon stick, halved lengthwise
6-8 small dessert pears, peeled, halved, cored
350g good-quality bitter chocolate
1 mandorlata cake or panettone (1 kg)
250g ricotta cheese
500g good-quality vanilla custard 250 ml white rum
500g strained natural Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
2 sheets edible gold leaf, optional
Combine 175g caster sugar, the wine, cinnamon and 650ml boiling water in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. Add the pears and poach for 20-35 minutes, then remove. Boil liquid for 20 minutes until reduced to 400ml, and remove the cinnamon. Pour 200ml of this syrup into another pan. Add 200g chocolate; stir and gently cook to create a sauce, then cool. Cut the cake or panettone into chunks and use some to line the base of the serving dish. Sit the pears on top and drizzle with the wine syrup. Pour the chocolate sauce over. Whisk half the ricotta, half the custard and 4 tablespoons of rum, and spoon over. Add a final layer of cake and remaining rum. Whisk together half the yogurt, remaining ricotta and sugar and the vanilla essence, and pour over. Chop and scatter the rest of the chocolate. Whisk the remaining custard and yogurt, and pour on top. Decorate with gold leaf, if liked.