Can you spot the twist with this tempt­ing turkey ?

Scottish Daily Mail - - Christmas Life - by Tom Raw­storne NOW MAKE YOUR OWN STEP ONE:

Beau­ti­fully bronzed and sur­rounded by a halo of spuds, sprouts and stuff­ing, it’s a cen­tre­piece wor­thy of the most clas­sic of Christ­mas ta­bles. But look a lit­tle bit closer at the fes­tive feast i’ve just spent the morn­ing slav­ing over and not ev­ery­thing is quite as it first seems. Be­cause while it may look like a meat­lover’s dream — a beau­ti­fully plump, per­fectly cooked bird — this is, in fact, an en­tirely meat­free main.

a case of good­bye turkey — hello to­furkey!

in­stead of be­ing reared on a farm, this lit­tle beauty has been sculpted en­tirely from tofu, which, for the unini­ti­ated, is a type of pro­cessed soya bean curd. that means it’s not just suit­able for veg­e­tar­i­ans, but ve­g­ans, too.

While the prospect may fill sworn Christ­mas car­ni­vores with hor­ror, it’s good news for those who are heed­ing the lat­est ad­vice from health pro­fes­sion­als and try­ing to cut down on the meat they eat. and good news for those who, like me, have got a fam­ily of veg­gies com­ing around for the main meal on Christ­mas Day.

Of course, i won’t be the only one pre­par­ing a plant­based Christ­mas plat­ter.

One in eight Bri­tons is now veg­e­tar­ian or ve­gan, and a fur­ther 21 per cent are ‘flex­i­tar­ian’ — and this week none other than Ca­role Mid­dle­ton, the Duchess of Cam­bridge’s mother, re­vealed she, too, would be turn­ing down the turkey. ‘i’ve re­cently gone ve­gan,’ she said. ‘for Christ­mas, i’d prob­a­bly serve two op­tions — very tra­di­tional and some­thing ve­gan.’

Well, Ca­role, fol­low my lead and you can com­bine the two — a ve­gan turkey. and, who knows, if it proves a hit, then the next gen­er­a­tion of roy­als might grow up not just talk­ing to plants but ex­clu­sively eat­ing them as well.

Of course, as any non meat­eater will know, al­ter­na­tives to the tra­di­tional Christ­mas lunch have in the past been dis­tinctly unin­spir­ing.

SO When my wife an­nounced that this year we were en­ter­tain­ing veg­e­tar­ian friends, i de­cided to find some­thing that would not only taste good, but look good, too.

af­ter hours spent search­ing on­line i came across recipes for the lesser­spot­ted tofu turkey — or to­furkey. Seem­ingly a re­cent amer­i­can in­ven­tion for thanks­giv­ing, at its sim­plest it’s a tofu ‘loaf’ filled with stuff­ing.

Oth­ers, in a bid to mimic a turkey crown, have de­vel­oped the look by creat­ing a dome of tofu with stuff­ing in­side. My plan is to take it to the next level. to do so will re­quire a bit of cre­ativ­ity — and lots of tofu.

Made from soya beans, tofu is a sta­ple of asian and veg­e­tar­ian cook­ing. it’s avail­able from most su­per­mar­kets, comes in blocks of vary­ing firm­ness and is not dis­sim­i­lar in tex­ture to hal­loumi cheese.

for my dish i buy ten 225g packs of ex­tra­firm tofu cost­ing £2.50 each, enough to make a meal for ten. With other in­gre­di­ents for the stuff­ing and the baste bring­ing the to­tal cost to about £30, that com­pares well with a real top­notch turkey, which can cost more than £12 a kilo (car­cass in­cluded) and can work out at about £80 for ten peo­ple.

Of course, with a real turkey it’s sim­ply a case of chuck­ing it in the oven and cook­ing it.

Mak­ing a to­furkey is more time­con­sum­ing — but fol­low­ing the steps be­low took me no more than a cou­ple of hours.

and not only is the fin­ished prod­uct much quicker to cook — just 90 min­utes — than a real turkey, but be­cause tofu can be eaten un­cooked there’s none of that anx­ious last­minute pok­ing with a skewer to try to work out whether your Christ­mas turkey is, fi­nally, safe to eat. Of course, the proof is in the eat­ing — and the carv­ing.

tak­ing a sharp knife i’m im­pressed that the beau­ti­fully browned outer shell of the to­furkey ac­tu­ally carves in to clean, white slices that hold their shape suf­fi­ciently well to al­low me to trans­fer them to a din­ner plate.

the tofu it­self is fairly bland — but is saved by the flavour­some stuff­ing in­side and the ex­te­rior baste of sesame oil, soy sauce, miso paste and mus­tard.

Com­bined with a roastie, half a sprout and a splash of veg­e­tar­ian gravy, it’s a pretty tasty, tex­ture­full mouth­ful. and, don’t for­get, real turkey can be the bland­est of meats. a good Christ­mas lunch is all about the ac­com­pa­ni­ments.

Only time will tell, of course, if my ver­sion hits the spot with my veg­e­tar­ian guests. and, if not, i’m pretty con­fi­dent that my own chick­ens won’t turn up their beaks at a turkey­free ‘turkey’ treat on Box­ing Day.

first, break up the tofu as finely as pos­si­ble. i start by dic­ing it with a knife and then place it in a bowl and at­tack it with a fork and potato masher, turn­ing it into a moist crumb. next, i line a colan­der with cheese cloth (a clean tea­towel will do), and fill with the crum­bled tofu, pack­ing it tightly down with my hands as i go. STEP TWO: for the tofu to take the shape of the colan­der — the

turkey’s ‘torso’ — it’s im­por­tant to squeeze out all the liq­uid. to do this i place a weight (a heavy casse­role dish) on top of it and put it in the fridge overnight. With the added weight, drips of milky liq­uid, col­lected in a dish, emerge through the holes at the bot­tom of the colan­der. STEP THREE: to make the drum­sticks, i im­pro­vise with two halves of an easter egg mould that i find in a cup­board, punc­tur­ing a few small holes in the plas­tic for drainage be­fore fill­ing with tofu. STEP FOUR: the stuff­ing. fol­low what­ever recipe you fancy, but i com­bine onion, mush­rooms, gar­lic and cel­ery with bread­crumbs and lots of herbs and sea­son­ing. Plain tofu has lit­tle flavour, so don’t scrimp. the same goes for the baste — a gen­er­ous and punchy mix of sesame oil, soy sauce, miso paste and mus­tard. not only will this add flavour, but it will colour, too. STEP FIVE: Once the tofu has had time to ‘set’, re­move from the fridge and, with a spoon, care­fully hol­low out some of the tofu from the cen­tre of the filled colan­der. Make sure you leave at least an inch around the edges or it won’t be thick enough to stand up once turned out of the colan­der. then fill the hol­low you have cre­ated with the stuff­ing, plac­ing the ex­ca­vated tofu back on top of the onion mix­ture to seal it back in.

STEP SIX: af­ter that, turn out the tofu mound on to a bak­ing tray lined with tin foil, flat­side down, hump fac­ing up. While care should be taken at this stage, the tofu should be fairly ro­bust and eas­ily hold its shape. then baste gen­er­ously and bake at a tem­per­a­ture of about 200c.

af­ter an hour, re­move, baste again and re­turn to the oven for a fur­ther 30 min­utes or so. the same goes for the legs. af­ter that put to­gether your turkey, adding de­tails such as a care­fully carved car­rot ‘bone’ to cre­ate the drum­sticks. Carve and serve.

Pic­ture: JNVISUALS

A meat treat? Tom’s home­made fes­tive feast

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