Have you been following along as I’ve been sharing my Christmas recipes to serve two? I’ve already shared my Ten Minute Cranberry Sauce, Perfect Roast Potatoes and Maple & Thyme Roasted Carrots & Parsnips. It’s now turkey time!
It’s perfectly possible to have turkey for two and not miss out on the feasting that is stereotypical but in a well meaning sense of Christmas. A whole bird is often way too much for even a “traditional” family of four and the leftovers could be wasted if you don’t like the dark meat or your turkey dries out, as it can do, with a few days in the fridge. When it’s just me and Hungry Hubby, I buy a half turkey breast with the skin on from the butchers which I stuff generously and roll before roasting. I find 2.5 lbs (and at Christmas, I do my weights and measures imperially, it seems the only acceptable way to do it) gives a generous meal for two when hot and enough for 2 days worth of salads or sandwiches. I never reheat my turkey and if there is any left by 72 hours, I’m afraid it gets binned. Here’s some very helpful info on how to prepare and cook turkey safely (although in saying that I am always amused that there is a perception that turkey has all the impending danger of a molotov cocktail …).
One thing I would say is I make sure everything is super clean when I work with raw poultry; I tidy away junk off my work top, wash my hands with soap and water frequently and wipe the whole area down with disinfectant solution as soon as I’ve popped it in the oven. I’ve always had a compulsion to clean and all these years of training in healthcare has cemented cross infection control procedures as a way of life, at work and at home.
The stuffing here is a sausagemeat one with a low breadcrumb content to keep it succulent and moist and my other tip is to cook some onions until soft and starting to colour nicely before processing them to a pulp. If you process them first, they stay too moist and never colour. I also add a big dollop of my Cranberry Sauce and plenty of fresh sage plus to echo the seasoning of the turkey, the zest of a clementine. For years, I’ve cooked my turkey on a bed of halved clementines (cut side up so you can use the juices for gravy – cut side down would make the pan juices too sharp) and the citrus perfume you get is oh so delicious. If you’re doing a whole turkey, you can pop one or two in the cavity as it cooks too.
Stay tuned for the final post in this series when I bring everything together with a cooking schedule to make your Christmas Dinner as stress free as can be!
- 2.5 lbs boneless, skin on turkey breast (approx 1.13kg)
- 3 clementines
- Sea salt and black pepper
- 1 tsp chopped fresh sage
- 200-250g smoked streaky bacon
- 500g sausagemeat
- 2 medium onions, sliced
- 2 tsp olive oil
- Small knob butter (about 1 tsp)
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
- 75g breadcrumbs
- 4 tbsp cranberry sauce
- Zest of a clementine
- Butcher's string
- Oven thermometer (to go on the shelf)
- Meat thermometer (not crucial but highly recommended)
- Large roasting dish
- Wide roll of foil
- Make the stuffing first. Melt the butter and oil and add the onions and sage - cook stirring regularly over a medium heat until softened and starting to colour around the edges. This may take 10-15 minutes (don't turn the heat up and burn them!).
- Take off the heat to cool to room temp.
- In a food processor, put the remaining stuffing ingredients plus the cooled onions and pulse until well combined. (Reserve a quarter of the stuffing and either freeze for another day or cook in a small baking for the last 30-40 minutes of the turkey cooking time.)
- Preheat oven to 220˚C using an internal oven thermometer
- Take the turkey breast and place it skin side down on a chopping board (if it's already tied, just cut it off).
- Open up the breast as flat as it will go then slice down the central sinew which runs down the middle in the long axis of the breast, to open up the smaller fillet like a book. Try not to cut all the way through and aim to even up the thickness across the whole piece.
- Place the stuffing down the centre of the prepared turkey then fold up the edges and lay the streaky bacon across to help seal and hold the stuffing in.
- Using fresh string, start tying up from one end, holding everything together firmly (i.e. not as tight as you can possibly make it!).
- Zest one of the clementines and cut them all in half. Place cut side up in your roasting dish and sit the turkey bacon side down on top of the fruits (skin side up). Sprinkle with the clementine zest, sea salt, black pepper and sage.
- Pour a cup of water into the base of the roasting pan and cover with a tent of foil sealing the edges tightly to keep the steam in.
- Place in the oven and turn the heat down to 180˚C using an oven thermometer (the best £5 I ever spent!) as your guide - oven dials are very unreliable and putting such a large cold object in the oven as this foil wrapped roaster filled with cold meat, the temp will drop rapidly so do keep an eye out to keep it to temp.
- Cook for 90 minutes, taking the foil off for the last 10-15 minutes.
- Check it is done by taking the turkey out of the oven and inserting an oven thermometer into the thickest part - it should reach 70˚C for 2 minutes to be fully cooked. Return for 10 minutes if not and check again. Juices will run clear at this point too.
- Take turkey out of the oven and place on a carving plate/board with a rim to collect any resting juices and cover with foil for a minimum of 30 minutes before carving. Drain the pan juices into a jug and reserve for gravy making. Remove the string before slicing as thinly or thickly as you wish.
- If your turkey breast is bigger or smaller but less than 4 kg, you should cook it for 70 minutes plus 20 minutes extra per kilo. (1kg = 2.2lbs).
- If you can't get sausagemeat, buy good quality sausage and remove the casings before using.
- You will have leftover turkey with this recipe and it's best to only slice what you need, as you need it over the next two days. It dries out if you preslice it. Wrap in wax paper and seal tightly with foil when cold and keep refrigerated.