Roasting a Christmas Turkey is a daunting task, but it's really not that hard. It just takes a bit of planning. So here are my tips.
Doesn't it look pretty? Cover it all up with some gladwrap, and stick it somewhere cool and out of the way for 24 hours before you cook it (the turkey should be pretty cold and possibly frozen anyway, so you don't need to worry about it going off. Just don't stick it in the sun).
3. Don't stuff it. Stuffing means your turkey is denser, which means you have to cook it for longer, and the meat is dry and tough. I cook my stuffing separately in a dish, which has the added bonus of it going all awesomely crunchy on top.
4. Prepare your turkey.
After taking your turkey out of his briney bath, give it a good pat down with some paper towel, then rub it all over (inside and out) with a lemon and some squished cloves of garlic. Then make a glaze containing:
- 75g butter
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- juice from 1 lemon
- chopped sage
- a few cloves of garlic.
Paint the turkey inside and out, then chuck a bundle of fresh herbs (parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme - really!) and your lemon carcasses in the turkey's front and rear cavities. I do not truss my turkey, because it takes longer to cook that way.
5. Cook your turkey. BUT NOT TOO MUCH.
Stick your oven on at 200C. Put the turkey straight onto the wire rack of the oven, breast up. You will not have to turn it. Put a pan below the turkey to catch the drippings. Chuck a cup or so of water into the pan, so the drippings don't burn. Baste the turkey with these drippings every half hour. Roast a 5-6 kg turkey for 2 1/2 hours. Yep. Two and a half hours. That's all. Then take it out and let it sit for AT LEAST 20 minutes, but ideally 40 or even an hour. The turkey will continue to cook when it comes out of the oven, and reabsorb all of the juices. Letting it sit also makes it easier to carve, and gives you a good opportunity to reheat your stuffing and bread sauce, and really CRANK your roast veggies to get them all crispy.
Here is last year's turkey, fresh out of th
Bread sauce is one of those awesome traditional dishes that sounds disgusting until you actually eat it, and then it is the best thing ever. This is my grandma's recipe, spruced up a bit with additions from Nigella.
You will need about 800g stale white bread, so make sure you leave the bread out overnight if you've brought it fresh. Then cut or tear it into rough cubes (about 1-2cm square)
Then on the day, heat a pan containing 1/2 a litre of full-fat milk, and 1/2 a litre of chicken stock. Then add:
- 1 finely diced onion
- 4 cloves
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns
- 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg.
Heat it all up but don't let it boil. Remove from heat once it's almost boiling, cover with lid. The longer you let it sit and infuse, the tastier it will be. This is a good thing to do in the early stages of the day, when you've just put the turkey on.
When you're almost ready to serve (turkey is out of the oven), put the mix back on the stove over a low heat, and either strain or fish out all the cloves and bayleaves and peppercorns (this is optional, you don't have to). Then add the stale bread cubes and cook for 15 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in 30g of butter, and if you've still got a bit of time, pop it in the oven for a bit. Serve with turkey.
As I mentioned in the turkey post, I don't put stuffing in my bird. But that doesn't mean there is no stuffing. WHAT A TERRIBLE THOUGHT.
My stuffing recipe is pretty flexible and changes every year. But it usually goes a bit like this:
Fry an onion (or two), some garlic, and 3-4 finely chopped celery stalks in butter, in a reasonable sized pot. Then add:
-lots of parsley
-lots of sage
-a bit of rosemary and/or thyme if you have any
-bacon, if you feel like it
-some kind of nuts - I like walnuts or pine nuts, although chestnuts are traditional.
Then chuck in about 300g of roughly cubed bread. I like to use a really seedy multigrain with a hearty rye flavour, but if you want to go more traditional you can just use white bread.
Add some chicken stock to keep the whole thing moist, then put into a baking dish. I usually do this the night before Christmas, so it has plenty of time to get tasty and flavourful. But take it out first thing Christmas morning so it'll be room temperature by the time it goes in the oven.
My oven is usually pretty full of turkey and veggies by this stage, so I just chuck it in as soon as the turkey comes out, uncovered, for 40 minutes, as high as my oven will go. It warms all the way through and ends up all crunchy on top.
By: Lili Wilkinson,
Blog: the thinkings of a lili
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You can't have Christmas dinner without some good roast veg. Potatoes are a must, and a little roast pumpkin and onion and garlic won't go astray either.
I also steam some green beans, just so there's something in the meal that isn't totally artery-clogging.
Let's start with potatoes. I par-boil them first (just peel and boil them in salty water for about 10 minutes). Then drain, and bash them around a bit in the pot with some salt, rosemary and a little semolina.
Now, there are two options.
1. When my turkey has been cooking for about an hour and a half, I pour off most of the juices from the dripping pan and save them for gravy and more basting. Then add the potatoes to the pan (with pumpkin if you like, but you don't have to parboil that), and let them roast while catching all that delicious turkey juice.
2. Pour a jar of duck-fat into the now-empty dripping tray, and let it heat up while the turkey does its last hour in the oven. When the turkey's out, crank the oven up as high as it will possibly go. When the fat is HOT HOT HOT, put in the potatoes. They'll need about 20 minutes each side. Duck fat has a higher burning point to other fats, so it can get REALLY hot. This will make them all crunchy and awesome on the outside, but it does mean resting your turkey for nearly an hour.
Either way, make sure your potatoes are the last thing you take out of the oven and serve at the table. They should be PIPING hot. Crunch crunch crunch.
I wasn't going to write this post, after reading everyone else's 2009 wrap-ups, but people convinced me.
A lot of people I care about had a crappy 2009. I didn't.
2009 started well, surrounded by my friends in Philip Island. Then Michael came into my life and made everything just that little bit more awesome. I've never felt so lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful, inspirational, supportive people.
It's also been a bloody good year for writing. I was a guest at the Edinburgh Book Festival and did about a zillion school visits which I thoroughly enjoyed. I had two books published, Angel Fish and Pink. I'm especially proud of Pink because it's the first book I've written that I wasn't commissioned to write, it was all me. It's been so exciting to see it do well, and I can't wait for it to come out in the US next year and see what they make of it. This year I've also sold books to the UK, Italy, China and Turkey, and I saw my first international editions (the UK and German versions of Scatterheart).
I did NaNoWriMo, which nearly killed me but felt like a pretty awesome achievement. I baked Christmassy things. I learnt how to use a sewing machine. My cat that I'd had since grade 5 died. I visited my senile grandmother and was pretty sure she had no idea who I was. I helped deliver another successful Reading Matters. I turned 28. I fell in love. I joined a writers' group. I walked along Hadrian's Wall for three days. I learnt the six steps of drinking whisky. I read lots of books. I finally started watching Battlestar Galactica.
I've watched people I love be sad this year, and struggle, and make hard decisions. And sometimes I feel guilty, because my life is pretty damn awesome. But guilt is a useless emotion, so my New Year's Resolution is to feel lucky instead of guilty. And take the awesome while it's here, and acknowledge that I've worked damn hard for it.
I'm really looking forward to 2010. I'm looking forward to writing a lot, and getting better at it as I do. I'm looking forward to reading exciting new things. I'm looking forward to all the adventures that life presents (except for the complicated provisional tax thingy the ATO wants me to do). And most of all I'm looking forward to spending time with the people I love, and doing everything I can to make their 2010 as awesome as my 2009 was.
Happy New Year!
So I didn't do EVERYTHING home made this year, but I still got my crafty oar in.
teacher gloves for a @jellyjellyfish
strip quilt cushion for Michael's mum
patchwork cushion for Erin
coasters for mum and dad
strip quilt cushion for mum and dad
By: Lili Wilkinson,
Blog: the thinkings of a lili
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It's lovely when things just come to you, unexpectedly.
I got an email about a month ago from a kindly soul who said she had an old Collins' dictionary that was inscribed to a Lily Wilkinson in 1924, and would I like to have it?
It was her husband's, the kindly soul told me. He used it to learn English when he first came to Australia. It's such a beautiful little dictionary, with lovely little woodcut illustrations.
The inscription says "To Lily, with love and best wishes from E Anderson, 2.11.24", and above it is written "Miss L Wilkinson, Post OFfice, Woodford". I'm not sure if it's a Woodford in Queensland or England or the US, and I'm pretty sure that this Lily Wilkinson isn't directly related to me (surely Family History Mother would know if she was), but now I'm all afire with curiosity to learn who she was.
In her email, Joanna (the kindly soul) said this: "Only if 'old books' could talk... you could find out so much more."
She's right, and yet I also love the mystery of an unknown Lily Wilkinson. She could have been anyone. I wonder what her favourite word in the dictionary was.
I'm pretty sure this dictionary will make its way into a novel or story sooner or later, so thank you, Joanna, for this amazing and generous gift!