Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas Lunch - BBQ Turkey with all the trimmings

BBQ Turkey with all the trimmings
BBQ Turkey with all the trimmings
Christmas Lunch
Maple- syrup roasted parsnip and Pan fried brussels
sprouts with pancetta, chilli and garlic

My plate
Turkey wrapped in streaky bacons

Ever since I BBQ my Turkey last Christmas, I have never looked back. There is , I think, no other better way of cooking this festive bird. Once on the barbecue, the intense heat from the glowing coals sealed the turkey almost instantly thus locking in all the juices. And it is precisely due to this searing heat condition, the turkey get cooked quicker and faster than in a conventional oven. And for two years in a row, I have gone straight for the breast meat rather than the legs. The temptation, as I carved into the bird and seeing all the clear juices dribbled down the breast is just too much to resist. The succulent breast is the main reason why I have decided to revisit the idea of cooking this years Christmas Turkey on the BBQ again. And this year, i have made roast parsnips in maple syrup and pan-fried purple sprouting Brussels sprouts with pancetta, chillies and garlic to go with the festive feast.
The obvious downside for cooking the turkey this way is how to keep the coals burning for a long time in order to cook the bird. I am quite lucky as I have always able to get a rather small turkey, roughly 3.5kg, which takes around 2 hours to cook so that means I was able to complete the entire cooking process on the barbecue. But if you are preparing it for a large family, there are a couple of ways to solve this problem. The obvious solution is to start the cooking process on the BBQ and then finish off by popping the turkey into the oven. This will still work, provided you do not overcook the turkey in the oven. The juices are still sealed in and the flavour will still be enhanced by the coals to give it a smokey flavour. Another way of solving this problem is to invest in a charcoal starter/Chimney starter. This is basically a steel canister in which you can start the coal burning process, and when they turned glowing white, you can pour the coals into the BBQ, thus allowing you to cook the entire turkey.
Cooking Christmas dinner is a long process and to ease up on the stress on the actual day, all preparation should be done the day before, which I have. The Sage, chestnut and cranberries stuffing should be made at lease couple of days in advance so that the flavour has time to mingle. And on Christmas eve, the turkey stock was made from the giblets, the Chipolatas was pre-wrapped with the streaky bacon. The star of the meal, the glorious turkey has been rubbed with luscious butter, the membrane between the skin and the breast has been slightly separated and a few sage leaves, together with some soften butter has been inserted between the layers,. This not only baste the turkey as it cooks but also impart more flavour to the flesh. The neck cavity has been stuffed with a small amount of the stuffing, this again give the turkey more flavour. The bird is then season with salt and pepper and then layered with some streaky bacon. All this might sound like a lot of handwork but believe me, it is utter important to do them for a truly flavoursome and moist turkey.

Here are the recipe for my BBQ Turkey with all the trimmings:
(serves 4-6)

For the Turkey:

3.5kg fresh turkey, with giblets(for the stock)
50g butter, room temperature
a few fresh sage leaves
16 rashers streaky bacon
Salt and pepper

For the Stuffing:

1 large onions, finely chopped
100g Pancetta, cubed
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
500g mince pork (I prefer them to the pre-prepared sausage meat)
100g roasted chestnuts, chopped
50g fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
1 apple, grated
75g fresh white breadcrumbs
1 eggs
Sal and pepper

For the Gravy:

2 tbsp of plain flour
600ml turkey stock, made from fried or roasted giblets boiled in water with some celery, onion, bay leaves and carrots and reduced
1 tbsp red current jelly
1 tbsp maple syrup
Salt and pepper

For the Pigs in blanket:

12 small Chipolata sausages
12 rashers streaky bacon

For the Roast potatoes:

8-10 medium potatoes, peeled and halves

Goose fat
Sunflower oil
1 tsp Cayenne pepper

For the Garnish:

A bunch of fresh watercress
A handful of fresh cranberries

Make the stuffing at least 2 days in advance. This allows the flavours to mingle and also ready to be used to 'stuffed' the turkey on Christmas eve.
Melt the butter and cooked the chopped pancetta for a few minutes until it is crispy. Add the onions and sauté until soften. Add the orange zest and sage and removed from the heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, add the onion mixture to the mince pork along with the cranberries, chestnuts, apples and breadcrumbs. Season with salt and pepper. The orange juice and egg can now be added and mix thoroughly. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge.

On the eve of Christmas, the turkey can now be prepared and stuffed. Filled the neck cavity with the stuffing and fold the excess skin under. Gently release the skin from the breast and push some soften butter together with a few sage leaves between the skin and the meat. As the turkey cook, the butter will melt and baste the meat. Arrange the streaky bacon on top of the turkey, overlapping slightly. The turkey can now be wrapped in foil and store in the fridge until the big day. The remaining stuffing can be rolled into a tiny little balls and keep on a plate in the fridge, wrapped with cling film.

On Christmas day, start by lighting up the barbecue. When the flames have dies off and the coals turned white, place the turkey on the BBQ. Slightly unwrapped the foil and place the lid of the BBQ back on. At this point, do not open the lid again until the complete 2 hours is up. The temperature will dropped every time the lid is open and this will risk under cooking the turkey.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Bring a pot of water to the boil and cook the potatoes for about 5-6 minutes. Drain in a colander and shake slightly so that the edges are slightly broken down. These rough edges will become crisp and crunchy during the roasting. In a roasting tin, heat up some goose fat and sunflower oil, I find using this mixture produces the best roast potatoes. Add the parboiled potatoes to the tin and season with salt and cayenne pepper. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes before turning in the pan. Roast for another 30-40 minutes until cooked and crispy. At the same time, place the stuffing balls and the pigs in blanket in the oven as these will takes about 40 minutes to cooked.

Once the turkey are done, removed from the barbecue and rest for at least 15 minutes. Prepare the gravy. Heat some butter in a pan, add the flour and cook for a few minutes. Pour in the turkey stock and reduced slightly. Add the redcurrant jelly and the maple syrup and cooked for a few more minutes. Any juices from the resting turkey can also be added to make the gravy more flavoursome. Season with salt and pepper and strain through a fine sieve. The gravy is now ready.

Place the turkey on a large plate, along with the streaky bacon, pigs in blankets, stuffing balls and roast potatoes. Garnish with some watercress and cranberries and served with a hot gravy.

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