The Saga of the Christmas Turkey

Christmas Dinner

This year Anna’s farmer brother, John, very kindly offered us one of his hand-reared turkies for the Christmas dinner. Being forewarned that they were on the large side got us thinking about what to do with the bird. We picked up one of the smaller ones, as seen in the picture, but it still weighed in at around 10kg, and came with all the giblets.

We decided there and then to remove the crown and save the legs and wings for future dinners. After dissection, the crown still looked pretty big, so we weighed it and found it to be 4kg: obviously too big for the two of us, so we split it in two. I made about 3.5 litres of very nice turkey stock out of the carcass, of which I froze about 2 litres for future use in soups and the like.

So, read on to see what we did with this magnificent specimen!

Christmas Dinner

Since we were only cooking the crown, we were naturally worried about it drying out. We decided to give it a two-stage preparation, suggested by Domini Kemp in the Irish Times. On the evening before, we poached it in a cider, water and orange juice liquor, suitably enhanced with salt, sugar, cinnamon and orange zest. After simmering for about a half an hour, we turned off the heat and left whole thing to cool with the lid on until the dinner time the next day. We then smothered it with butter and roasted it on a bed of coarsely chopped root vegetables, along with a lemon and a splash of white wine, for about 45 minutes. The turkey stayed lovely and moist. We accompanied it with potatoes roasted in goose fat, peppered sprouts and buttered carrots, as well as a nice gravy made with some of the stock. Very tasty. Pacing ourselves, we made sure we left some room for a bit of cheese and Christmas pudding!


One of the fun bits about the Christmas Turkey is finding ways of using up the rest of the bird. This is what we did this year.

Turkey Soup

We actually had our first left-over on Christmas Eve. Using meat pulled off the carcass and the neck after making the stock, along with some slices from the heart and gizzard and carrots from the stock, we put together a delicious soup.

Turkey Pizza

Covered a base with a little tomata pizza sauce, then sprinkled on some turkey, brie cheese and cranberry sauce. Cooked for 10 minutes in a very hot oven. Really good. Have to confess to buying a prepared base, but there are good bases for sale: ours was from Pizza del Piero in Rathmines, Dublin.

Turkey Quesadilla

Basically the same as the pizza without the tomato sauce, but the filling is sandwiched between two flour tortillas and fried on both sides with a good knob of butter.

Turkey Pie

Cut chunks off the crown. Unbelievably not quite gone yet. Made a nice velouté, enriched with some cream, mustard and a little grated gruyere. Added the turkey and some baby onions, which had previously been peeled and fried until golden. Topped with a puff pastry lid and cooked in a very hot oven until the pastry was golden. Delicious


On New Years Day, we cut the last few chunks from the crown and used in place of chicken/pork in a delicious paella dish, which I’ll post soon. Due to the limited supplies in the shops I had to replace the spinach with pak choi from the local Asian shop. Tasted a bit different but still very good.

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