Turkey is not just for Christmas

Turkey is the mainstay of many a Christmas Day meal, but what about the turkey as a source of meat and protein throughout the year? I love turkey and always think it should appear on our dinner tables more, whether roasted (or even better post Christmas cold leftovers), or using minced turkey. So I’ve decided to post my five favourite turkey meals (the first of a monthly series of Favourite Five posts highlighting five microrecipes on a theme). This month’s list is not a definitive five, but I think turkey should (to paraphrase a famous advertising campaign) be for life, not just for Christmas.

favourite five

Turkey meatballs – I’m a big fan of meatballs, and turkey mince makes a really great, light, version. They’re also simple to make, combine turkey mince, a handful of breadcrumbs, a little grated parmesan, sweated onions and mixed herbs (I used a mix of dried herbs from the allotment). Once combined, form the mixture into small meatballs. Brown in a pan, then pour a tomato sauce over the meatballs and cook in the oven for ten minutes.Turkey Meatballs

Turkey Sliders – The kids are big fans of these. The basic mix is similar to the meatballs above, combining turkey mince, breadcrumbs and some mixed herbs. Make into small patties and cook on a griddle pan, so they get charred edges. We tend to serve them in a small bun with a bit of melted cheese on top, gherkins and a red onion relish.

Turkey Noodles – Another family favourite. Combine a tbsp. of honey, oyster sauce and soy, mix and then grate a little fresh ginger into the liquid. Cut some turkey breast into dice and add to the sauce. Slice peppers, onions and cabbage into thin strips and stir fry until cooked with a bit of bite, add the turkey from the marinade and continue to fry until meat is cooked through. Pour in the remaining marinade and then add straight to wok noodles and cook for a couple of minutes before serving.

Turkey Schnitzel – Use a large piece of turkey breast. Place it between two layers of cling film and then use a rolling pin to flatten the breast to 5-8mm thick. This makes it much easier and quicker to cook the meat. Dust the meat in flour, then a beaten egg, and finally cover in breadcrumbs. To cook the turkey, place a knob of butter in a large frying pan and heat until bubbling. Place the meat into the butter and cook for a few minutes on each side; turning when the breadcrumbs are golden.

Turkey and Ham Pie – This is a classic way to use up leftover turkey after Christmas, but a good recipe for anytime of year really. Slowly cook a chopped onion and some thyme in a little oil until soft and fragrant. Stir in a little flour and cook for a short while before adding half a cup of stock. Continue to stir as the liquid thickens, then season. Add cooked turkey and ham in bite size pieces and combine. This is the pie mix. To top you could use mash (as in a shepherds pie), but I tend to use a shop bought puff pastry. Pop in huge oven for 30 minutes and you have a delicious pie.


A Sweet Salami (Salame di Fichi)

I’ve been looking at how Christmas is celebrated with food in different countries and discovered a great sweet treat for the festive table. In Italy, they often combine dried fruits and nuts to create a sweet salami (so called because of its resemblance to conventional salami). A slice with a coffee is the perfect way to use up that leftover dried fruit.20131218-123646.jpg
What you will need
250g dried figs (soaked for a few minutes in recently boiled water with a splash of orange juice)
50g good quality dark chocolate
150g mixed nuts roughly chopped (I used a combination of pistachios and almonds)
Zest of half a lemon
Zest and juice of a clementine

Roughly chop the dried figs and chocolate in the food processor. Add the zest and juice of the citrus fruits and then whizz once more until you have a sticky paste. Stir in the mixed nuts, and knead the mixture to make sure that they are evenly distributed. Form three sausage shapes by rolling the mixture with cling film. Make sure you do this as tightly as possible to prevent it breaking up when you cut it later. Place the sausage shapes wrapped in cling film into the fridge overnight. Once refrigerated take the ‘sausage’ out of the cling film and place in a plastic bag with some icing sugar to give a dusting over the ‘salami’. Wrap in baking parchment and tie with butchers’ twine. Slice into 1cm thick rounds and serve with coffee.


A Simple Christmas Dessert

The early apples we have, Beauty of Bath, really don’t keep. However, our plot is overhung by the most wonderful eating apple tree, and these apples keep pretty well. As a child we often had baked apples, stuffed with sultanas and Demerara sugar, for desert and I decided to have one the other day for lunch. Being that it is Christmas, and we had an open jar of mincemeat in the fridge, I chose to fill the centre of the fruit with some of this festive fruit and nut mix. Teamed with a splash of cream over the hot apple, the sharpness contrasts brilliantly with the sweet mincemeat.20131218-122415.jpg

You will need

1 Cooking Apple (A Bramley is ideal)
1 tbsp Mincemeat
Cream to serve
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Core your apple and fill the space where the core was with the mincemeat. Bake for 30 minutes until golden on top and soft and fluffy inside. Serve with a splash of cream.


A Soup for Christmas Eve

Christmas in our house is all about Christmas Day, although I must admit I enjoy the leftovers of the turkey as much as (or probably even more than) the main roast. However, across the world the main Christmas celebration meal is often had on the evening before.
Wigilia, literally meaning “vigil,” is the main focus of Polish Christmas and is a meatless Christmas Eve meal, also known as the Star Supper, as it doesn’t begin until the first star appears in the sky.

One of the traditional elements of this meal is a soup called barszcz; the Polish version of the Russian beetroot soup, borscht. We have quite a bit of beetroot at the allotment; I love the earthy taste and vibrant colour, which seems to offer some brightness in the cold, dark winter. There are different versions of this soup, but mine is a clear soup with finely chopped beet, served with boiled potatoes and sour cream. The sour cream element is both authentically Polish, and simultaneously unauthentic as the sour cream I use is Lithuanian. Apparently Polish sour cream is superior to that usually found in our supermarkets, having a deeper flavour and thicker consistency. We have a local Eastern European store run by Lithuanians, so I went to find some Polish sour cream. On asking, the shop assistant agreed that Polish sour cream was indeed good, but insisted that Lithuanian was even better! I have to say that the sour cream I left the shop with was amazing; creamy, yet still sour and refreshing, a brilliant accompaniment to the earthy flavours of the soup.

You will need (serves 4)
4 good sized beetroot
800ml good vegetable stock
1 clove garlic (crushed)
Tsp sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 large potatoes, cut into large dice and boiled
Sour cream to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C, wrap the washed beets in aluminum foil and roast until tender (about 30-45 minutes). When they’re cool enough to handle, peel and slice into strips or finely chop. In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to the boil, add chopped beetroot, garlic, sugar, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about ten minutes, allowing the flavours to combine. Serve hot with the boiled potatoes and a spoonful of the sour cream.