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Gill Books 12 Feasts of Christmas: The Main Event

20-12-2016 15:10

The Gill Books 12 Feasts of Christmas celebrates the festive season with twelve feasts featuring recipes from our wonderful authors. Recipes that will impress the visitors, sustain you, make the children smile, help you survive after overindulgence, celebrate in style and most importantly, taste delicious. Here we share everything you need to make this year’s main event one to remember!


Darina Allen’s old-fashioned roast turkey with all the trimmings


A Simply Delicious Christmas, first published in 1989, is a much-loved cookbook, with tattered, well-worn copies to be found in most households in the country. This latest 25 year special edition is revised and updated to reflect today’s tastes.


This is my favourite roast stuffed turkey recipe. Even after all these years, this buttery fresh herb stuffing is still my absolute favourite.

1 x 4.5–5.4kg (10–12lb) free-range, organic turkey with neck and giblets
roux (for the gravy (optional)


Fresh herb stuffing

350g (12oz) chopped onions
175g (6oz) butter
400–500g (14–18oz) approx. soft
breadcrumbs made from good bread (check that the bread is non-GM) or approx. 600g (11/4lb) gluten-free breadcrumbs
50g (2oz) freshly chopped herbs, e.g. parsley, thyme, chives, marjoram, savoury, lemon balm
salt and freshly ground pepper
Turkey stock
neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone and wing tips of turkey
2 carrots, sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 stalk of celery
green part of a couple of leeks, if available
bouquet garni
3 or 4 peppercorns
For basting the turkey
225g (8oz) butter
large square of muslin (optional)

To garnish

large sprigs of fresh parsley or watercress

Serving Suggestion: cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy.

Serves 10–12

Remove the wishbone from the neck end of the turkey, for ease of carving later. Using a tall, narrow saucepan, make a turkey stock by covering the neck, gizzard, heart, wishbone, wing tips, vegetables, bouquet garni and peppercorns with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer while the turkey is being prepared and cooked, 3 hours approx.

To make the fresh herb stuffing, sweat the onions gently in the butter until soft, for 10 minutes approx., on a low heat, then stir in the crumbs, herbs and a little salt and pepper to taste. Allow it to get quite cold. If necessary, wash and dry the cavity of the bird, then season and three-quarters fill with cold stuffing. Put the remainder of the stuffing into the crop at the neck end, or you may decide to do a different stuffing. Either way, tuck the remaining neck flap underneath the bird and secure with the wing tips.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time. Allow 15 minutes approx. per 450g (1lb) and 15 minutes over. Melt the butter for basting the turkey and soak a large piece of good-quality muslin in the melted butter. Cover the turkey completely with the muslin and roast in the preheated moderate oven for 23/4–31/4 hours.

There is no need to baste it because of the butter-soaked muslin. The turkey browns beautifully, but if you like it even browner, remove the muslin 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Alternatively, smear the breast, legs and crop well with soft butter and season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. If the turkey is not covered with butter-soaked muslin then it is a good idea to cover the whole dish with a large sheet of parchment. However, your turkey will then be semi-steamed, not roasted in the traditional sense of the word.

The turkey is cooked when the thigh juices run clear. To test, prick the thickest part at the base of the thigh and examine the juices: they should be clear. Remove the turkey to a carving dish, keep it warm and allow it to rest while you make the gravy.

To make the gravy, spoon the surplus fat from the roasting pan. Deglaze the pan juices with fat-free stock from the giblets and bones. Using a whisk, stir and scrape well to dissolve the caramelised juices from the roasting pan. Boil it up well, season and thicken with a little roux if you like. Taste and correct the seasoning. Serve in a hot gravy boat. If possible, present the turkey on your largest serving dish, surrounded by crispy roast potatoes and garnished with large sprigs of parsley or watercress and maybe a sprig of holly. Make sure no one eats the berries. Serve with cranberry sauce, bread sauce and gravy.


Christmas ham with sticky apricot and ginger glaze


Thank Heaven For Neven! Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook will be A lifesaver in every family’s kitchen.

A traditional ham is the perfect choice if you’ve got hoards of visitors to feed, so it’s especially good to have over the festive period. A certain crowd pleaser, it tastes equally good served hot or cold. Have you ever wondered what the difference is between ham, bacon and gammon? Bacon is cured pork and gammon is a hind leg cut of bacon, and once this particular cut is cooked, it’s called ham. Any leftovers from this ham can be used in countless other dishes – even the bone will make a wonderful stock.


SERVES 10–12

1 x 5.25kg (11½lb) leg of gammon (on the bone)
4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 onions, sliced
5cm (2in) piece of root ginger, sliced
1 small bunch of fresh thyme
1 tbsp black peppercorns
4 whole cloves
2 star anise
1.5 litres (2¾ pints) cider
1 tsp ground ginger


175g (6oz) good-quality apricot jam or conserve
100g (4oz) light brown sugar
juice of 1 lemon
4 star anise
4 pieces of preserved stem ginger, cut into small matchstick-sized strips

Although gammon is less salty nowadays, it’s still a good idea to soak it. Place the gammon in a large pan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for at least 6 hours (or overnight is best), then drain.

Preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F/gas mark ½).


Use a large, deep roasting tin with a rack that’s big enough to hold the ham. Put the celery, onions, fresh ginger, thyme, peppercorns, cloves and star anise in the tin and pour over the cider, then put the rack on top. Sit the gammon on the rack and cover with a large tent of foil, sealing it well. Put on the hob over a high heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, then transfer to the oven. Cook for 12 hours or overnight – you can now leave it for 1–2 days before finishing the recipe. Alternatively, leave it to rest and cool down for at least 30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4).

Now make the glaze. Put the apricot jam or conserve in a small pan with the sugar, lemon juice and star anise. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then add the stem ginger and simmer for 3–4 minutes, until reduced to a thick glaze, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t catch at the bottom.

Carefully peel away the skin on the ham, leaving the layer of white fat intact. Using a sharp knife, score the fat diagonally to make a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat.

Rub the ground ginger all over the ham, then brush over all but a couple spoonfuls of the glaze, distributing the stem ginger strips and star anise evenly over the top of the ham. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until golden and sticky. Remove the cooked ham from the oven, transfer to a serving platter and leave to rest for 15–20 minutes.

To serve, carve slices from one side of the ham, cutting diagonally to achieve an even thickness. When you reach the bone, insert the knife at a flatter angle and slice across the top of the bone. Turn over the leg to carve slices from the other sides. Use as required.


Braised carrots with tarragon


Whether you have to cut gluten out of your diet or just feel better when you do, rediscover the joy of cooking with over 120 tasty, feel-good recipes that everyone will enjoy in My Gluten Free Kitchen by chef Gearoid Lynch.


The addition of fresh tarragon to these carrots is a classic combination that simply works. It adds a fresh new dimension to the carrots.


Serves 4

35g butter
15 baby carrots or new season carrots,
30ml chicken stock (page 148)
salt and white pepper
10g fresh tarragon, chopped


Preheat the oven to 175°C.


Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Sweat the carrots for 5 minutes, then add the chicken stock and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Season lightly and cook in the oven for 10–15 minutes. The carrots should be tender and cooked all the way through, with a glossy sheen from the butter. To serve, toss in the fresh chopped tarragon.


Brussels sprouts with toasted hazelnuts and candied bacon


Turn spront haters into spront lovers with this dish from A Simply Delicious Christmas by Darina Allen.


Brussels sprouts seem to be the number one most hated vegetable – the poor little sprout has had very bad press – mostly because it can be tough to cook well. If you follow the conventional wisdom to cut a cross in the base and boil them, you are pretty much guaranteed the result that has condemned the sprout to its appalling reputation. Try cutting them in quarters – they cook much faster and retain their bright green colour. Candied bacon really perks them up, a flavour I first tasted at a friend’s house in New York.


50g (2oz) hazelnuts
6 slices lightly smoked streaky bacon – approx. 110g (4oz)
40g (11/2oz) soft pale brown sugar
500g (18oz) Brussels sprouts
25g (1oz) butter
70ml (21/2fl oz) homemade
chicken stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Put the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 15 minutes, shaking regularly, until the skins start to flake away and the nuts are golden. Rub off the skins with a cloth and allow to cool, then chop the hazelnuts coarsely.

Raise the oven temperature to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with a sheet of parchment paper. Dip the streaky bacon in the brown sugar so that both sides are coated and place on the tray. Cook for 10–15 minutes, until the bacon is caramelised on both sides, flipping it over halfway through the cooking time. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for a minute or two, then remove to a wire rack to crisp up.

Meanwhile, trim the sprouts, cut in half and shred thinly. Melt the butter in a sauté pan over a medium-high heat. When it foams, add the shredded sprouts and toss to coat. Add the chicken stock, cover and cook on a high heat for 4–5 minutes, tossing regularly. Season well with salt and freshly ground pepper. The sprouts should still be fresh and green.

Snip the bacon into uneven pieces with scissors. Add most of the coarsely chopped hazelnuts and candied bacon to the sprouts. Toss, taste and correct the seasoning.

Turn into a hot serving dish. Sprinkle with the remaining hazelnuts, candied bacon and the chopped parsley. Serve immediately.


Creamy mashed potatoes


Good mashed potato is a key part of a good Christmas dinner, this mashed potato from Neven Maguire’s Complete Family Cookbook is delicious.


This is a brilliant mashed potato recipe, which once mastered can be adapted for different results. Try replacing a couple tablespoons of the milk with crème fraîche or cream for a richer version.

Serves 4–6


1.5kg (3¼lb) floury potatoes (such as

Rooster), peeled and cut into evensized chunks

120ml (4fl oz) milk

75g (3oz) butter

sea salt and freshly ground

black pepper

snipped fresh chives, to garnish


Place the potatoes in a large pan of salted water. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15–20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender without breaking up. Drain and return to the pan over a low heat to dry out.


Mash the potatoes or pass them through a potato ricer or vegetable mouli if you want a really smooth finish. Heat the milk in a small pan or in the microwave. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the butter until melted, then beat the warm milk into the potatoes until you have a smooth, creamy mash. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at once garnished with the snipped fresh chives.


Garlic and rosemary roast potatoes


These roast potatoes from Catherine Fulvio’s A Taste of Home are perfect for Christmas dinner.

In my opinion, Golden Wonders and Roosters make the best roasties. The perfect roast potato should be crispy on the outside and soft yet dry inside.

6 large Golden Wonder potatoes, peeled and roughly cut into 3 or 4
2 tbsp flour, for dusting
rapeseed oil, for roasting
1 tsp chopped rosemary
10 small sprigs of rosemary
5 garlic cloves, sliced in half
sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 210°C/fan 190°C/gas 7.

To cook the potatoes, place them in a steamer and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove and place in a colander or bowl and shake well so that the edges of the potatoes break slightly. Dust over the flour. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat some rapeseed oil in a roasting tin. Carefully add the floured potatoes, chopped rosemary and half the sprigs of rosemary and roast for about 20 minutes. Shake the roasting tin from time to time.

Add the garlic and reduce the heat to 200°C/fan 180°C/gas 6. Continue to roast for a further 15 to 20 minutes until the potatoes are crisp and golden.

Transfer to a warm serving dish and add a little more salt and the rest of the sprigs of rosemary.


We hope that you found some inspiration for the main event, more importantly, remember to relax and not stress out if everything doesn’t go to plan. Those are the funny memories we all remember in the years to come! Happy feasting to you and yours, stay tuned for more fantastically festive recipes. Follow us @GillBooks on Twitter, @gillbooks on Instagram and like us on Facebook for the latest author news.

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