Get­ting the best from your Christ­mas bird

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE - Pa­trick Skin­ner

I won­der how many Cypri­ots are cook­ing whole lamb or kid, or joints of meat over an open fire, this Christ­mas? I sus­pect most will be in­doors and the meat of choice will be turkey, which has be­come a tra­di­tion in it­self in re­cent years. Not be­ing the great­est lover of turkey, I of­ten pre­fer a chicken. My butcher is al­ways pre­pared to bone this out (pro­vid­ing a car­cass which made lovely stock). Stuffed, rolled, tied and roasted, it is de­li­cious. Not dif­fi­cult, ei­ther!

Open out a boned chicken, skin-side down. Make your stuff­ing from: 450 g of slightly fatty pork pieces, finely minced; 4 slices of streaky ba­con, finely minced; 1 large onion and 6 medium-large mush­rooms very finely chopped; 2-3 sage leaves, finely chopped and 1 flat tsp each of pow­dered cin­na­mon, cumin and garlic; a lit­tle salt and a gen­er­ous sprin­kling of freshly ground black pep­per. Mix ev­ery­thing to­gether in a bowl and then lay in a long sausage shape in the cen­tre of the spread-out chicken.

Fold the sides and ends of the chicken over and ei­ther tie or, as I do, put some wooden ke­bab skew­ers through at strate­gic points, to pre­vent the poor stuffed bone­less bird com­ing apart. Turn the whole thing skin-side up, brush a lit­tle oil over and roast in the mid­dle of a medium-hot oven (200C). This will take about an hour and a half. Turn once dur­ing cook­ing.

Dur­ing the cook­ing a lot of lovely juices will be re­leased. Drain them and put them in a small saucepan with a cup or two of wa­ter, a ta­ble­spoon of tomato purée (ketchup does as well, or bet­ter), a ta­ble­spoon of dry sherry and sea­son­ing. Bring to the boil and thicken with corn-flour (mix one heaped tea­spoon in a cup with wa­ter and tip into the saucepan, stir­ring briskly).

Bring the master­piece to the ta­ble and carve lovely suc­cu­lent slices off. Add some sauce and serve with roast pota­toes and a green veg­etable. If there's any left (as if there will be!) it's su­per cold. Slices thinly and beau­ti­fully.

If you want to be more am­bi­tious, you may use more than one bird, boned and flat­tened. A goose, a duck and a chicken, for ex­am­ple. We did this five years ago for Christ­mas din­ner for 18 and it was a great suc­cess. Here, too, it slices well cold.

If you want your bird roasted whole… this is a good method…

Fresh sage and onion are the clas­sic in­gre­di­ents of stuff­ing for rich meats, such as pork and duck, but I love it in chicken and turkey, too.

450 gr of onions, peeled and finely chopped; 100 g of home-made bread­crumbs, 6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped; 25 g but­ter or 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pep­per.

Put the chopped onion in a small pan and barely cover with wa­ter. Sim­mer for 10 min­utes. Re­move onions to a mix­ing bowl, keep­ing the wa­ter. Mix all other in­gre­di­ents in and moisten with a lit­tle of the onion wa­ter un­til you have a well-bound mix­ture. Then stuff your bird. Moist bread­crumbs can be the ve­hi­cle for all kinds of vari­a­tions of herbs and spices: thyme, oregano, garlic, pars­ley, and so on. Cold stuff­ing is de­li­cious sliced and served cold or fried to a golden crispi­ness.

In­gre­di­ents:

Method:

In­gre­di­ents

4 thick slices of turkey breast, beaten flat 8-12 very thin slices of Hiromeri Thin slices of Ke­falotiri, Ched­dar or sim­i­lar cheese A few sage leaves - Sea­son­ing to taste

Method

1. In a large heavy fry­ing pan or skil­let melt a lit­tle un­salted but­ter and crum­ble in one or two sage leaves. Gen­tly fry the turkey fil­lets un­til cooked through and lightly browned on both sides.

2. In the pan, drape over each fil­let the thin slices of Hiromeri (or very thin sliced lountza or ham if you pre­fer) and then the thin slices of cheese.

3. Con­tinue cook­ing on low heat un­til the cheese soft­ens and be­gins to melt. Sprin­kle some black pep­per over the top and serve.

A sauce made from slightly thick­ened stock, a lit­tle tomato purée and a drop of white wine could “lu­bri­cate”.

Turkey Dish for Four

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