A bit of roast and relaxation

Christmas feast: Roast turkey with super sausage stuffing and cranberry sauce
Christmas feast: Roast turkey with super sausage stuffing and cranberry sauce

Last Christmas we had all three generations of our family gathered around the festive table.

A couple had specific requirements. One was gluten-intolerant and another vegetarian. The vegetarian said she would be fine with just enjoying the roasted vegetables served with the main. But I couldn't let that happen on Christmas Day when everyone else was over-indulging in the piece de resistance - turkey with all the trimmings including grilled prunes wrapped in bacon.

I thought long and hard for inspiration. A nut loaf or roast was the choice. It sounded fairly dull but surprised everybody. The family helped themselves to a little and loved it, especially when topped with a dollop of cranberry sauce. And the leftovers next day were great served cold. I've included the recipe.

Roast veges are a must. I usually combine a selection (eg, chopped pumpkin, potatoes, kumara) in a pan with olive oil, garlic, freshly ground black pepper and rosemary and roast them at 200 degrees Celsius. At the end I throw in some fat asparagus spears and quartered colourful peppers (capsicums) and cook them for about 10 minutes. If you don't have two ovens (the meat and veges cook at two different temperatures) then cook the veges - covered - on the barbecue.

However, mashed potatoes, parsnip or pumpkin are great for mopping up gravy. And as it is Christmas, a little finely chopped parsley and diced red pepper (capsicum) add a touch of seasonal colour.

Now, some recipes for success. Merry Christmas.


I used a Crozier's free-range turkey that I ordered from my butcher.

4.5kg turkey

salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Stuffing: 2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, diced

cup diced fennel bulb

500g sausage meat

1 green-skinned apple, cored and diced

1 red pepper (capsicum), seeded and diced

1 teaspoon mixed dried herbs

finely grated rind 1 orange

Baste: 75g butter, softened

2 tablespoons thyme leaves Preheat the oven to 160°C.

Ensure the turkey is thawed. Remove the giblets. Wipe dry and season the inside with salt and pepper.

To make the stuffing, melt the butter and sauté the onion, until softened. Add the fennel and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Cool.

Combine with all the remaining stuffing ingredients. Fill the neck end of the turkey then fill the cavity. Secure the stuffing by inserting small wooden skewers over the cavity opening. Truss the turkey with string to keep a good shape.

Place on a rack in roasting pan, breast-side up. Combine the butter and thyme. Spread half over the breast. Add 1 cup of water or stock to the pan.

Slit an oven bag down one side and place over the turkey. Cook for 2 hours, turning the pan around once. Lift up the oven bag. Spread the breast with the remaining butter mixture, cover again with the bag. Add extra water or stock to the pan, if required.

Cover with the oven bag and continue cooking for 1 hours or until the timer pops. To prevent the legs from becoming too brown, cover with a piece of foil.

Remove the turkey to a warm platter. Cover with foil and a thick towel to keep warm. Use the juices to make a gravy. Serves 8-10.


2 cups frozen cranberries

cup orange juice

1 each: cinnamon stick, star anise

pinch ground cinnamon

cup brown sugar Place all the ingredients in a saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil, stirring occasionally.

Gently simmer until the cranberries start to burst. Cool. Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise and chill. Serves 8.


Based on a recipe from Jamie Magazine - but easier. Excellent served hot or cold with cranberry sauce.

Risotto: cup dried porcini mushrooms

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 each: Celery stalks, small red onions, garlic cloves, diced

cup each Arborio rice, white wine

2 cups hot vegetable stock

Nut mixture: 2 tablespoons olive oil

200g brown mushrooms, sliced

70g each: pistachio nuts, blanched almonds, lightly toasted and finely chopped

cup fresh breadcrumbs

1 cup lightly packed grated tasty cheddar cheese

1-2 red chillies, seeded and diced

finely grated rind 1 lemon

2 eggs, beaten

1 tablespoon each: Chopped rosemary, sage, thyme

To make the risotto, soak the porcini mushrooms in a cup of boiling water for 20 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan. Gently sauté the celery, onion and garlic, until very soft. Stir in the rice. Increase the heat. Add the wine and stir until absorbed by the rice.

Drain the porcini, finely chop and add to the pan. Add the hot stock, a ladle at a time, stirring until it is absorbed. Cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C. Grease a 20cm loaf pan and line the base with baking paper.

To prepare the nut mixture, heat the oil in a heavy frying pan. Sauté the brown mushrooms until just starting to crisp. Add to the risotto together with all the other ingredients.

Spoon into the loaf pan and pack down gently. Cover with foil.

Bake for 40 minutes, remove the foil and continue baking for another 15 minutes. The mixture should be lightly set. Stand for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Serves 6-8.


2kg lamb leg

1 teaspoon each: Sugar, Chinese five-spice powder, salt

1 tablespoon grated root ginger

Thai-Style Mint Sauce: 1 cup lightly packed mint leaves

2 red chillies, seeded and chopped

1 large shallot chopped

3 cloves garlic

cup lightly packed brown sugar

150ml lime juice (about 6 limes)

2 tablespoons Thai fish sauce Preheat the oven to 160°C. Trim the lamb of excess fat. Score the top of the roast as you would a ham.

Combine the sugar, five-spice and salt. Rub over the scored lamb. Dot with the ginger.

Place on a rack in a roasting pan. Add a cup of water or stock to the pan. Roast for 45 minutes per 500g plus an extra 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place all the ingredients for the sauce in a blender. Process until smooth. Chill until required.

Stand the lamb, tented with foil and covered with a thick towel, for 15-30 minutes before carving.

Drain off any fat from the pan and use the juices to make a gravy. Serve the lamb with hot gravy and the cold mint sauce. Serves about 8.


An economical festive roast. Ask your butcher to finely score the skin.

Remove a little of the flap end and use as a cushion for the rolled roast.

1.5kg boned pork loin

15 pitted prunes, chopped

cup boiling water or port

1 shallot, diced

1 apple, peeled, cored and grated

1 tablespoon chopped sage leaves

1 cup fresh breadcrumbs

salt and pepper to taste

olive oil Place the prunes in a bowl and cover with the water or port. Stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the shallot, apple, sage and breadcrumbs. Add to the prunes and mix well.

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Lightly oil a roasting pan.

Open out the pork loin. Pat the stuffing over the centre. Roll up and tie with string every 3cm. Any leftover stuffing can be wrapped in foil and baked alongside the roast.

Brush with oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in a roasting pan on the flap. Add a cup of water. Roast for 30 minutes per 500g plus 30 minutes. The internal temperature of the pork should reach 71°C.

Gravy can be prepared using the pan juices. Excellent served with baked apples and baked kumara.

Serves 6.

Copyright Jan Bilton

The Marlborough Express