How to Cook Your Christmas Bird

If you’re cooking a Christmas bird this year, we hope you find these recipes helpful.

Roast Turkey

Try steaming your turkey to help keep it moist and tender. Note that if you have a fan oven, you’ll need to reduce the temperatures given by 10-20C.

For the turkey
6kg turkey, with giblets
170g of soft butter
250g of streaky bacon
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 leek, cleaned and roughly chopped
1 carrot, peeled or cleaned and roughly chopped
2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic, smashed
2-3 sprigs of thyme
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper for seasoning
For the stock
Turkey giblets
1 stick of celery, chopped into thirds
1 large carrot, chopped into quarters
2 small onions, chopped into quarters
2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
1 small bunch of parsley stalks and celery leaves, tied together with string
For the gravy
2 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp cranberry sauce
Small glass of red wine

1) Preheat the oven to 210C/Gas Mark 7.

2) Remove the giblets from the turkey and return to the fridge until you need them to make the gravy.

3) Spread the butter over the entire bird, season and cover with the streaky bacon.

4) Place the onions, leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and bay leaves into a roasting tray and place the turkey on top.

5) Pour 1 litre of water into the roasting tray (not over the turkey) and cover tightly with foil so that no air can escape and the turkey can steam in the oven.

6) Place in the oven and cook for 45 minutes.

7) Turn the oven down to 170C or Gas Mark 3 and continue cooking for a further 2 ½ hours.

8) In the meantime make the stock by boiling all the ingredients together with 1.2 litres of water for an hour.

9) Strain and set the liquid to one side. Discard the giblets and vegetables.

10) Remove the foil from the turkey and peel off the bacon.

11) Turn the oven up to 200C or Gas Mark 6 and return the turkey to the oven and cook for a further half hour or until the turkey is cooked through and the skin is golden brown and crisp. To ensure the turkey is cooked through, use a meat thermometer to check the meat has reached 70C in its thickest part. Note that once it’s out of the oven, the temperature should continue to rise by 5-10°C during its resting period.

12) Transfer the turkey to a plate or wooden board, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest for half an hour or so whilst you make the gravy.

13) Remove all the vegetables from the bottom of the roasting tray and discard. Strain off all the fat from the cooking juices and place the roasting tray over a low heat. Mix the plain flour into the juices to form a paste. Allow to cook for 30 seconds or so.

14) Gradually pour 600 mls of the giblet stock into the tin, stirring all the while to prevent lumps.

15) Once all the liquid has been added, stir in the cranberry sauce and allow the gravy to simmer for around 10 minutes before serving.

Turkey recipe adapted from a Dominic Chapman recipe on the Great British Chefs website.

Tips for Serving: Serve the turkey with traditional Christmas trimmings including sprouts, parsnips, roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, a fruity stuffing and cranberry sauce. Both chardonnay and pinot noir work well with turkey, but you could also try an IPA or a brown ale.

Roast Goose

Cooking a goose whole can result in overcooked breast meat and tough thigh meat. And although you’ll lose the wow factor of serving a whole bird, cooking it in joints will ensure it’s perfectly cooked and tasty. Note that if you have a fan oven, you’ll need to reduce the temperatures given by 10-20C.

4½ -5kg goose
2 bay leaves
5 thyme sprigs
1 garlic clove, sliced
Salt and white pepper, for seasoning
2 tbsp goose fat
1 small onion, roughly chopped
1 carrot, roughly chopped
3 sticks of celery, roughly chopped
85g butter, softened
300ml Sloemotion Sloe Ruby

Serves 10

1) Trim the bird of any excess fat and discard. Remove the legs and set to one side. Remove the wings and neck and roughly chop using a sharp knife. Preheat your oven to 150C or Gas Mark 2.

2) Chop one of the bay leaves with the leaves from 2 of the sprigs of thyme and mix with the garlic, ½ tsp salt and 2 pinches of white pepper and rub into the flesh of the goose legs.

3) Heat the goose fat in a large roasting tin over a medium heat. Add the wings and neck and cook for 5 mins, or until they are beginning to brown. Take care not to burn the pieces as this result in a bitter tasting sauce.

4) Add the onion, carrot and celery, and continue to brown for a couple more minutes.

5) Place the goose legs, skin-side up, in the roasting tin with the wings, bones and vegetables. Cover tightly with foil and roast for an hour.

6) Rub the remaining goose crown with the butter and season with salt and pepper. Take the roasting tin out of the oven and turn the temperature up to 230C or Gas Mark 8.

7) Remove the foil from the tin and place the goose crown on top of the legs. This will allow the heat to circulate around the breast meat and enable it to cook evenly.

8) Roast for half an hour, until the crown’s skin is golden.

9) Turn the oven down to 150C or Gas Mark 2. Add the remaining bay leaf, thyme sprigs and 300ml hot water to the tin. This will have a deglazing effect on the juices at the bottom of the pan whilst keeping the goose moist.

10) Return the tin to the oven and continue to cook for around half an hour, basting every 10 mins with the juices.

11) Remove the tin from the oven and check the temperature of the breast using a thermometer. Once it reads 55C it’s cooked, so return the tin to the oven for further cooking if it’s not quite at 55C. How long the crown takes to cook will depend on its shape as a short and fat bird will take longer to cook than a long and thin bird – even if they’re the same weight.

12) Once cooked, remove the crown from the tin and wrap tightly in foil to rest whilst you return the legs to the oven to finish cooking for a further half hour.

13) Meanwhile, heat the Sloe Ruby in a small pan and simmer to reduce by half.

14) Remove the tin from the oven and place the legs on a large plate, wrap in foil and allow them to rest whilst you prepare the gravy.

15) Remove the wings, bones and veg from the roasting tin and discard. You now need to remove the excess fat from the roasting juices in the tin and you can either pour them off or use a fat separator jug.

16) Return the juices to the tin and place over a medium heat. Bring to a boil, whilst stirring to deglaze. Add the reduced Sloe Ruby, the juices that have collected under the goose as it’s been resting and season to taste.

17) Let everything simmer for a couple more minutes before serving with the goose.

Recipe adapted from Raymond Blanc on BBC Good Food.

Tips for Serving: Serve this Christmas bird with all the traditional trimmings and a good dollop of apple sauce, to help cut through the richness of the meat. A rioja is a good partner to goose, but you could also try a refreshing cider or riesling – to help cut through that richness even further. A gose beer would be an interesting match, especially Magic Rock’s gooseberry gose, Salty Kiss.

Roast Duck

Duck and orange is an old favourite that seems to work particularly well at Christmas. Note that if you have a fan oven, you’ll need to reduce the temperatures given by 10-20C.

For the duck
1 duck, 2.25-2.75 kg in weight, with giblets
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
1 ½ tsp fine-cut Seville orange marmalade
30 mls port
For the stock
The duck’s giblets
1 stick of celery, chopped into thirds
1 large carrot, chopped into quarters
2 small onions, chopped into quarters
2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
1 small bunch of parsley stalks and celery leaves, tied together with string
For the sauce
45 mls port
1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 large garlic clove, crushed
20 mls lemon juice
Zest and juice of one medium orange
3 tbsp Seville orange marmalade

1) Preheat your oven to 220C or Gas Mark 7.

2) Remove the giblets from the duck’s cavity and return to the fridge until needed.

3) Place the duck on a rack in a roasting tin and use a skewer to prick all the fleshy parts. This will help the fat to drain during cooking.

4) Season the duck with the salt and pepper and place in the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes.

5) Reduce the oven down to 180C or Gas Mark 4 and continue to roast the duck for around 2 ½ hours.

6) In the meantime make the stock by boiling all the ingredients together with 1.2 litres of water for an hour.

7) Strain and set the liquid to one side. Discard the giblets and vegetables.

8) Mix 1 ½ tsp of marmalade with 30 mls of port to make a glaze.

9) Ten minutes before the end of the duck’s cooking time, brush the glaze over the skin of the duck and return to the oven.

10) Once the duck has cooked, remove it from the roasting dish, cover loosely with foil and leave to rest whilst you make the sauce.

11) Strain off all the fat from the cooking juices in the roasting tin and place the tin over a low heat.

12) Add the coriander seeds and garlic and allow to cook for a couple of minutes.

13) Pour in 225 mls of the giblet stock, the lemon juice, the orange juice and the orange zest and bring to a simmer.

14) Continue to simmer gently for around 15 minutes, season to taste and serve with the glazed duck.

Recipe adapted from a Delia Smith recipe at Delia Online.

Tips for Serving: Try this duck with red cabbage braised in star anise and cloves – the warming spices will work well with the orange and port in the sauce. Drinks wise, the classic pairing would be a pinot noir or a barolo,
but you could also try a Belgian dubbel beer.

Roast Chicken

Chicken is a family favourite, so why not have it at Christmas? Cook two or three to save on arguments on who gets a leg. Note that if you have a fan oven, you’ll need to reduce the temperatures given by 10-20C.

For the Chicken
3 chickens, weighing around 2kg each, with their giblets
100g soft butter
Salt and pepper, for seasoning
6 bay leaves
3 large sprigs fresh thyme
1 lemon, sliced
The cloves from one head of garlic, bashed
200ml white wine
For the stock
Chicken giblets
1 stick of celery, chopped into thirds
1 large carrot, chopped into quarters
2 small onions, chopped into quarters
2 bay leaves
12 black peppercorns
1 small bunch of parsley stalks and celery leaves, tied together with string
For the Gravy
Small glass white wine
1 tbsp plain flour

Serves 12

1) Remove the birds from the fridge an hour before cooking so they can come to room temperature.

2) Preheat your oven to 220C or Gas Mark 7.

3) Remove the giblets from the chickens’ cavities and return to the fridge until needed.

4) Place the chickens in a large roasting tray and the smear the soft butter all over their skins.

5) Divide the bay leaves, thyme, slices of lemon and garlic cloves between the chickens and place inside and under each of them.

6) Place in the oven and roast for 30 minutes.

7) Take the roasting tray out of the oven, baste the birds and pour in the wine taking care not to pour any over the chickens.

8) Turn the oven down to 180C or Gas Mark 4 and roast for another hour, or until they are cooked through. To check they are cooked use a meat thermometer to check the meat in its thickest part has reached 70C. Note that once the bird is out of the oven, the temperature should continue to rise by 5-10°C during its resting period.

9) In the meantime make the stock by boiling all the ingredients together with 1.2 litres of water for an hour.

10) Strain and set the liquid to one side. Discard the giblets and vegetables.

11) Once cooked, tip the birds to allow any juices to run down into the roasting tray then transfer to a large plate or dish and cover with foil so that they can rest as you prepare the gravy.

12) Skim any excess fat from the juices in the roasting tin and place over a low heat. Add the flour and stir to form a paste.

13) Gradually pour in the wine, stirring all the while to help prevent lumps. Continue to stir as you gradually add around 600 mls of the giblet stock.

14) Bring the gravy just to the point of boiling then reduce and simmer gently for around 15 minutes, season to taste and serve with the chickens.

Recipe adapted from a Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall recipe for the Guardian.

Tips for Serving: You could either serve your chickens with all the traditional Christmas trimmings, or go for a lighter option of roasted peppers, courgettes and aubergines. And the traditional drink would be a chardonnay or pinot noir, but a pale ale or a herby saison would make for a tasty pairing.

*Thanks Firs Farm for letting us use their picture as the main image.

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