Christmas Turkey by Damien Pignolet


‘The bigger the turkey, the better the flavour’ is all very well said but hardly suitable for today’s small families. I like to use the Supreme or Buffe (the boneless breast) which will generally weigh 1.2 – 2 kg and make 6 –8 at table very happy. Good thing about this cut is the easy cooking time and everyday way of carving, often a worry with a whole bird.

Given the lack of time on Christmas Day with the arrival of family and friends, excited kids and presents, try this simple but delicious way to deal with a special lunch. Just rely on a good butcher for the turkey.



The Turkey

  • 1 clove garlic, crushed with a knife blade
  • 2 tablespoons fresh leaves or 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon and ½ an orange
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 x 1.2 – 1 8 kg turkey supreme
  • Salt

The Rissoles

  • 6 pure pork sausages - about 600 grams
  • 4 tablespoons pistachio nut kernels, cut in halves
  • 2 tablespoon brandy, madeira or port

Spinach and pear puree

  • 1 pear, peeled, cored and diced
  • 3 bunches English spinach, well washed, coarse stalks discarded
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp olive oil

On Christmas Day

The Garnish

  • 200 g wild rice
  • 900 ml cold water

Vegetable of your choosing such as baby squash, baby carrots, roasted onions or roasted pumpkin

Cranberry sauce


The Turkey, rissoles and spinach and pear puree
1. Combine the garlic, lemon and orange zests, pepper and 2 tablespoon olive oil in a small bowl then rub it all over the turkey breast. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight .
2. Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins into a deep mixing bowl then add the remaining ingredients. Beat well to combine well. Form 6 – 8 rissoles and flatten gently to a neat burger shape. Cover and refrigerate until required.
3. Drop the diced pear into plenty of boiling water and simmer until really tender which might take as much as 40 minutes. Drain and puree in a blender.
4. Meanwhile, over low heat, cook the spinach in a pot with a good splash of water and ½ teaspoon salt, stirring frequently until very soft (10 minutes) then drain, refresh under cold running water then squeeze out most of the liquid. Weigh or access the weight by cups and add ¼ of the weight in pear puree. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg then add the oil. Cover and refrigerate until required.

2 hours ahead of cooking remove the turkey from the fridge.
1. Preheat the oven to 140⁰ C. Remove and wipe off the marinating ingredients from the turkey then sprinkle well with salt. Heat some olive oil over moderate heat and brown the turkey on all surfaces. Transfer to the oven, preferably on a rack (if you have one handy) and cook for 55 minutes per kilo.
2. 45 minutes before the turkey is cooked remove the rissoles from the fridge but don’t cook them for 20 minutes in the pan with the turkey.
3. Rinse the wild rice in a colander under cold running water then transfer to saucepan that will hold 5 times the rice. Add the cold water and bring slowly to the boil then simmer as slowly as possible for 45 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Drain and transfer toa microwave safe bowl ready to reheat gently when required.
4. Transfer the spinach to a small pot ready to reheat. Cook the remaining vegetable to your liking and keep warm.
5. Remove the turkey and rissoles from the oven to a carving platter, cover loosely with aluminium foil and rest for 15 minutes.
6. Present the turkey ready to carve at the table garnished with the rissoles, additional vegetable and wild rice. The spinach puree should be in a separate bowl.


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