Turkey crown with pancetta and sausage & chestnut stuffing

I haven’t had a turkey for Christmas in years! We always eat goose as per a tradition coming from my partner’s family. However, this year we had a big (ish) Christmas party with our climbing group and decided to host it at home. It was 11 of us with various dietary requirements and turkey seemed to fit the bill – large enough to feed us all and everyone can eat it.

I found two really good recipes in an old BBC Good Food magazine (issue 2011) and ended up joining them up together. I made the turkey as per one recipe and the stuffing as per another recipe and it worked perfectly!

The only thing is, unfortunately, in the chaos of serving up dinner for 11 people, I somehow forgot to take a photo fo the full turkey… In such situations, usually, I will cook a dish again, but it seems like too big a meal to do that with!

Our turkey was also very big at more than 5kgs just for a crown! So it comfortably fed us that night and for a week after… So in the recipe below, I’ve changed up the ingredients a bit to a slightly larger turkey.

Turkey crown with pancetta, roast garlic and sausage & chestnut stuffing

Serves 10 + leftovers | Prep 35 mins + resting | Cook 2-3hrs
A little effort

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Picture of the carved turkey, photo by Sarah Ahmad

You’ll need:

For the turkey

  • 4kg turkey crown;
  • olive oil;
  • about 10 thin slices pancetta or streaky bacon;
  • small rosemary sprigs;
  • 1 large onion, cut into 8 wedges;
  • 3 whole garlic bulbs, halved horizontally;
  • 1 lemon, zested (reserve the zest for the stuffing) then cut into 6 wedges.

For the chestnut stuffing

  • 25g pecans;
  • 2 tbsp olive oil;
  • 25g butter;
  • 3 shallots;
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped;
  • 140g cooked chestnuts, finely chopped;
  • 450g good quality pork sausage meat;
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley;
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme leaves;
  • 2 tsp finely chopped sage;
  • lemon zest (from the lemon you prepped for the turkey);
  • 1 egg, beaten.

For the gravy

  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour;
  • 1.2 litres turkey or chicken stock.

For the turkey. Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.  Weigh it to calculate the cooking time, allowing 20 mins per kg, plus 90 mins (or 70 mins when roasting a crown weighing less than 4kg). Sit the turkey on a board, very lightly rub all over with olive oil and season with pepper. Lay the pancetta or streaky bacon over the top of the turkey, slightly overlapping to cover it. Tuck the slices under the bird to secure at the bottom. Insert small rosemary sprigs haphazardly between the slices. Season with pepper. Tie the crown across in 2-3 places with butcher’s string, to hold the shape together. Put the onion wedges in the middle of a large roasting tin and sit the crown on top. Cover the turkey with a loose tent of foil, then roast following your calculated time.

Make the stuffing. Line the base of a baking tray or sheet (big enough to take 16 stuffing balls) with baking parchment. Heat the oil and butter in a frying pan, tip in the shallots and garlic, and fry for a few mins until softened. Stir in the chestnuts and chopped pecans, then tip into a large bowl and cool. Add the sausage meat to the bowl with the nut mixture. Add the remaining stuffing ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Shape the stuffing mixture into 16 balls. Break the remaining pecans into big pieces and press a piece into top of each ball. Arrange balls on the prepared tray, cover with buttered baking parchment and chill until ready to cook. Can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.

Thirty mins before the end of the cooking time, remove the turkey and increase oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Remove the foil, place the garlic halves and lemon wedges around the turkey, then baste them and the turkey with the cooking juices. Return the tin to the oven and continue to roast for the final 30 mins. To test if cooked, pierce the fattest part of the crown with a skewer – the juices should run clear, not pink. If they are pink, continue to roast, checking at 10 min intervals.

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Carved turkey, photo by Sarah Ahmad

Remove the turkey, garlic and lemon from the oven, transfer to a warm serving platter and rest, covered loosely with foil, for 30 mins before carving. Meanwhile, cook the stuffing balls. Increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Bake stuffing balls in the oven for 25-30 mins, removing the paper for the last 5 mins if they need browning.

Make the gravy. Pour off any excess fat from the roasting tin but leave the juices and onions. Sprinkle in the flour, set tin over medium heat and cook, stirring for a couple of mins to cook the flour, scraping up any sticky bits from the bottom of the tin. Gradually pour in the stock, along with any resting juices from the turkey, and continue to stir until slightly thickened. Simmer gently for about 10-15 mins or until reduced to your liking. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Strain gravy into a pan, warm through, pour into a jug and serve with the turkey. Serve the turkey surrounded with stuffing balls, roasted garlic and lemon, and the gravy.

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One full Christmas dinner plate, photo by Sarah Ahmad

 

Original recipes from BBC Good Food magazine, issue December 2011. Turkey Crown with pancetta, available online here. Pecan and chestnut stuffing from another recipe, available online here.

Spaghetti Carbonara

One of the most popular pasta recipes out there and certainly a favourite at home, Spaghetti Carbonara is a staple in the Italian diet and probably almost every Italian restaurant everywhere in the world. Consisting of only a couple of ingredients, it takes about 15 minutes to cook. Though simple to make, I would say that if you want a great tasting dish you should definitely have great quality ingredients – and believe me when I say that great quality pancetta, eggs, pecorino and parmesan make this dish. Also, NEVER order or eat Carbonara that’s made with anything but those few ingredients, garlic and some seasoning. You sometimes will see people claiming to be serving authentic Carbonara that contains, for example, cream – well… it’s anything but authentic. Feel free to check this with anyone from Italy…

Spaghetti Carbonara

Serves 4 | Prep 5 minutes | Cook 15 minutes | Easy

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You’ll need:
  • 25g unsalted butter;
  • 100g pancetta, diced;
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed;
  • 300g spaghetti;
  • 40g parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated;
  • 40g pecorino, freshly grated;
  • 2 eggs, beaten.

Cook the pasta in a large pan of salted, boiling water, until al dente (as per pack instructions).

While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large pan. Add the pancetta and whole garlic clove and cook for 5 minutes, or until the garlic turns brown. Remove the garlic. Cook the pancetta for 5 minutes more. While the pasta and pancetta are cooking, add ½ the grated cheeses to the beaten eggs, season with black pepper.

When the pasta is ready, drain and reserve a couple of tablespoons from the pasta water. Add the pasta to the pancetta and mix well, turn the heat off.. Mix a couple the pasta water with the eggs, adding one spoon at a time. This method ensures that the eggs will not scramble when you add them to the pasta. Pour the eggs, mixing well immediately so that it coats the pasta. You’ll have to be quick as you don’t want the egg to start to scramble. Mix a couple of tablespoons cooking water to make a sleek sauce. You can add the garlic back in, if you wish. Add the remaining cheese, mix again, and serve at once.

Though I cook this pretty much by heart, this is the base recipe I usually use and it’s from myWaitrose magazine. You’ll notice that I’ve changed the method a little bit, mainly to suit my style of cooking. Original recipe available here.

 

Entertaining: Spring Menu for 10 – Poached salmon with Dauphinose potatoes and more

This Easter was all about celebrating with friends and showcasing some Bulgarian traditions alongside the British ones. It was lovely to be able to host some of our good friends this time around. All together we were 11 people and that’s the most I’ve had for a ‘sit-down’ lunch so far. We’ve had bigger groups for other occasions but it’s always been buffet-style food and people helping themselves. I put together the following menu and I’m sharing some of the recipes from it here on the blog. I’ve picked out the more notable dishes which will give you a good basis of a meal for a slightly bigger group.   At the end of the post, I will also add some tips of what you can do in advance and rough timings to help you with planning. At the bottom of each recipe, I have included details of where I got the recipe from and a link to the original one where possible.  This menu made for a lovely late lunch which wasn’t too heavy. In big lunches like this, we are often too full by the time we get to dessert but in this case, everything felt just right.

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Poached Salmon, served with dauphinoise potatoes and pancetta peas and beans.

My Spring Menu for 10 includes:

  • Canapes: Borscht blinis with smoked salmon and lime Crème fraîche;
  • Starter: Lime, chilli and coriander crab with avocado and rocket;
  • Main: Poached salmon with dauphinoise potatoes and peas with pancetta.

Canapes: Borscht Blinis with Smoked Salmon and Lime Crème fraîche

Makes 26-30 | Prep 60 mins| Cook 30 minsSome effort

I got this recipe from the recently published charity book “A Taste of Glasgow“. It’s a fantastic cookbook which features a large number of recipes from Glasgow based restaurants and chefs. The book is no longer on sale but if you plan on using the recipe below, I would like to ask you to make a donation to Children’s 1st – the Charity that the book donated all its proceeds to. No donation is too small and you can donate here.

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Photo by Sarah Ahmad from The Floating Designer
You’ll need:
  1. For the Beetroot Pancakes:
    • 120g self-raising flour;
    • 1 large egg;
    • 1 cup (250ml) semi-skimmed milk;
    • 1 small beetroot, cooked;
    • Olive oil
    • Sea salt;
  2. Lime Crème fraîche:
    • 100ml Crème fraîche;
    • 1 lime zest and juice;
  3. Garnish:
    • 200g smoked salmon;
    • Samphire, blanched for 10 seconds then refreshed in ice cold water;
    • 1 small raw beetroot, sliced wafer thin into discs – halved if necessary.

For the beetroot pancakes. Firstly, incorporate all of the beetroot pancake ingredients (except the olive oil) into a blender and blitz until a smooth, consistent, lump-free texture is reached. Leave the batter to rest for 15 minutes. Add a little olive oil to a pan and place on a medium heat. Using a teaspoon, take a spoonful of batter and drop into the pan to cook – the pancakes should be about 3-4cm wide. When bubbles begin to appear on the top of the pancakes, turn them over and cook for 1 more minute. Cool on a cooling rack.

For the lime Crème fraîche, mix well the Crème fraîche and lime zest and juice. Chill until you need it.

To assemble and serve – start with placing the blinis on a serving plate. Add a little of the lime Crème fraîche, a small rosette of smoked salmon. Place a disk of raw beetroot and a small piece of blanched samphire.

This is a recipe by Campbell Mickel, one of Scotland’s best private chefs. I don’t have a link to the original recipe but do please donate to Children’s first when using this fantastic recipe from A Taste of Glasgow.

Starter: Lime, Chilli and Coriander Crab with Avocado & Rocket

Serves 10 | Prep 15 minutes | Quick and Easy | Gluten-Free

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Chilli, lime and coriander crab with avocado & rocket salad.
You’ll need:
  • 300g crab meat (I used 50-50 brown and white);
  • 3 tbsp coriander, chopped;
  • 1&1/2 red chilli, chopped;
  • 1&1/2 lime juice and juice of 1 lime for the mayo
  • 3 handfuls of rocket;
  • 3 sliced avocados;
  • 150ml mayo.

For the crab, mix the crab meat with the coriander, red chilli and 1+1/2 lime juice. Leave to chill until you are ready to serve. Make the zingy mayo by mixing the mayo and remaining lime juice and zest. Leave to chill until you are ready to serve. To serve, divide the rocket and avocados between 10 plates or small glasses. Top with the crab mix and serve with the mayo on the side.

Original recipe from Olive magazine, issue April 2011, available here.

Main: Foil-Poached Salmon

Serves 10 | Prep 20 minutes | Cook 1hr 30 mins plus coolingSome effort | Gluten-free

I bought this beautiful whole salmon to use in this recipe from my local fishmongers, The Fish Plaice, who are just fantastic. They have two locations in Glasgow and an online store. You can find more information about them on their website.

Tip: There is a helpful step by step guide in the original recipe on BBC Good Food website.

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Photo by Sarah Ahmad from The Floating Designer.
You’ll need:
  • Olive oil;
  • 3kg whole gutted and scaled salmon with the head removed;
  • bunch of dill;
  • 1 shallot, halved and very thinly sliced;
  • 5 tbsp dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc;
  • 1/2 cucumber thinly sliced (optional).

Heat oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2. Place a large piece of double-width foil on top of a large baking sheet an and brush it with oil, then put the salmon in the centre. Tuck a few generous sprigs of dill and the shallots in the body cavity, then season. Carefully bring up the sides of the foil to surround the fish, season well inside and out, then pour over the wine. Seal the foil all the way around, but not too tightly on the fish – you need to give it a bit of space within the parcel. Bake for 1hr 30 mins.

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All ready to go in the oven!

Once the salmon has cooked, carefully unwrap the foil parcel and pull the dorsal fin on the spine of the fish. If the salmon is ready, it should come away very easily. Reseal the parcel and leave to cool – it will carry on cooking a little more as it cools. If you are not sure that the salmon is cooked sufficiently, return it to the oven for 10 mins more.

When the fish is slightly cooled (or cold if you are serving it cold), carefully peel away the skin from one side of the salmon. You may need to use a knife to get you started, but it should peel away easily after that. Leave the dill and shallot in place, as you may damage the flesh of the salmon if you try to remove them. Carefully turn the salmon over onto a plater and remove the skin flesh from the other side.

To serve, carefully remove the fillets from one side of the fish, leaving behind the bones. You will see that the fish has a natural divide of 2 long fillets on each side. Insert your knife along the centre and carefully ease off each fillet. Transfer the fillets to a platter, bone side up. Lift up the central bone from the remaining whole fish – it should come away in one piece – and remove the dill and shallot. Ease the 2 remaining fillets apart and remove any pin bones. Serve the 2 fillets decorated with the cucumber slices and with lemon wedges.

Original recipe from BBC Good Food magazine, issue May 2013, available here.

Side dish: Potatoes Dauphinoise

Serves 8-10 | Prepare 15 minutes | Cook 1hr 15 mins | Easy | Gluten-free
You’ll need:
  • 15g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing;
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced,
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed,
  • 1 tbsp thyme leaves,
  • 170 ml single cream;
  • 170 ml double cream;
  • 100 ml whole milk;
  • 1kg king edward potatoes, peeled and finely sliced.

While the salmon is cooking, start prepping the potatoes. Grease a 1.5 litre baking dish. Heat the butter in a large saucepan over a medium heat, until foaming. Stir in the onion and cook for 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and thyme, cook for another 3 minutes. Add the creams and milk to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer and season.

Tip the potatoes into the pan and simmer for 6-7 minutes. Transfer everything to the baking dish. Place in the oven with the salmon about half way through it’s cooking time on a shelf below. When the fish is out, place in the middle of the oven and increase the heat to 170C fan, and cook for another 30-40 minutes until browned and cooked through, while the fish is resting and you are preparing it for serving.

Adapted from a recipe from myWaitrose Magazine, issue May 2016. 

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The sides: Dauphinoise potatoes and pancetta peas & beans. Photo by Sarah Ahmad from The Floating Designer.

Side dish: Peas & beans with pancetta & mint

Serves 8-10 | Prep 5 mins | Cook 15 minsEasy | Gluten-free Vegetarian
You’ll need:
  • 1 tbsp olive oil;
  • 100g wafer thin smoked pancetta rashers;
  • 480g pack frozen soya beans;
  • 200g broccoli;
  • 500g frozen petits pois;
  • juice of 1 lemon;
  • food handful mint leaves, roughly chopped.

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the pancetta until it turns golden, taking care not to burn it. Lift from the pan, then tip the soya beans into the pan juices and arrange the broccoli on top. Add 6 tbsp water; cover tightly and steam for 10 mins, or until the broccoli is tender. Meanwhile, strip the pancetta into pieces with scissors.

Stir the petits pois into the pan and cook for 2 mins more, then remove from the heat and toss in the lemon juice, mint and crispy pancetta pieces.

Original recipe from BBC Good Food magazine, issue April 2011, available here.

Tips

If you’d like to get ahead, you can prep quite a few of the elements the day before or get them started first so you free up more time for the salmon. The day before, you can prep the following:

  • Canapes: You can make the beetroot blinis for the canapes the day before and seal them in an airtight container. Alternatively, you can make the pancake mix the day before and let it sit in your fridge until the following day. You can also make the zesty Crème fraîche in advance.
  • Starter: You can make the crab mix and the mayo for the starter the day before and let them sit in your fridge. Your crab will be flavoured even more that way so that’s a bonus too! Just make sure you bring to room temperature before you plate up.
  • Main: You can make the potatoes dauphinoise up to the point before they go in the oven. Just bring to room temperature about 20 minutes before you put in the oven.

Tip 1 – Quicker & Simpler Main: For a speedy and slightly simpler solution, you can use 2 boneless, skinless salmon sides, then stack them on top of each other with some finely chopped dill and basil and the sliced shallot. Wrap in foil with the wine and seasoning and cook for 10 minutes less time. Then you can serve straight away without having to peel the skin and prep the fish after cooking.

Tip 2 – make a stock of the fish remains – head, bones, skin: I cut the head and tail from the fish at home and used them to make homemade fish stock. All you need to do is put them in the pan, add 150 ml white wine, 2 peeled and quartered onions, a couple of carrots very roughly chopped, a handful of parsley with the stalks and cover with water. Season really well. Boil for about 30 minutes, then remove the fish and veg, and reduce further. Place in an ice cube trays and transfer to a ziplock bag once frozen.

I hope you enjoy this fantastic fish based menu for 10. Let me know in the comments if you make this or elements of it and what you’d do differently!