It's a simple idea, really - a turkey for Christmas. You get the turkey and the herbs and you think you're almost there except that, staring at the huge turkey that's taking up all the fridge space, you realise that you don't really know what to do with it.
Yes, this Christmas marked our first foray into the whole turkey-roasting business.
Keeping in mind the countless turkey disasters that have been portrayed on television, we decided that an early start would be wise. Armed with our "Cooking With Jamie" cookbook and a few pointers from my dad, we were ready to tackle Christmas dinner.
Along with some store-bought stuffing, we made our own vegetarian stuffing.
Salt and pepper
Boil the potatoes and mash them with a little bit of olive oil. Saute the cumin seeds and large onions before adding in the celery and apple chunks. Allow to cook over low heat until the apple and celery become reasonably soft. Toss everything into the mash along with the other herbs and mix well. A typical recipe would call for apricots instead of apples but we decided to work with what we had. I personally thought that the sweet apple bits were the best part of the stuffing.
I have to say, it was one of those figure-it-out-as-you-go-along type things with us going with logic and reasoning most of the way. Being the only one willing to have my hand in the turkey, in some strange way, I was almost sad to see it go into the oven. After almost 4 hours, (and as we were beginning to worry that it would never be done), the little gauge popped out and opening the oven door revealed an extremely juicy turkey.
Top 5 lessons learnt
1. A turkey crown is a turkey without its thighs
2. The skin of the turkey can be pulled back like a flap
3. Working a bit of stuffing and herbs between the skin helps with flavour and moisture
4. Roasting the turkey breast-down really helps keep it juicy
5. To close the cavity, use an orange
Top 3 things NOT to do
1. Use the entire packet of Bisto gravy powder when you are only meant to use 2 teaspoons
2. Pop the orange into the microwave for more than 10 seconds because it literally "pops"
3. Try to close the turkey cavity with a few clementines instead of an orange
Alongside a huge pot of pasta (Christmas shapes, no less!), gravy, stuffing, spring rolls, prawn tempura, chicken satay, cheese bites, Italian chocolates and a neverending supply of crackers and chips, the surprisingly successful turkey really set the tone for the evening.
A gold christmas tree, presents, enough food to last 2 days, good friends, funny hats and family - now that's what I call Christmas.