After the hares came a big bird

The hounding of hares in Taranaki has come to an end for another season and enthusiasts of the sport celebrated by eating a turkey.

Members of the Taranaki Hunt are a social bunch (so I've learnt) and decided to mark their final tally-ho with a mid-year Christmas party at my place.

Let me explain. She Who Rules thunders across the hillsides and thought it a spiffing idea to host a meal using a turkey I had been sent from the deep south to cook and critique.

This magnificent beast (the turkey) was couriered up by the fine Crozier Turkeys enterprise from their free- range base in Ashburton.

They've done this around December before but reckoned it was time Kiwis changed their thinking that turkeys were only good at Christmas.

"They're beautiful any time of the year and make a magnificent hot meal in the winter if you are entertaining," Judith Crozier said.

Fair enough, I thought, but as the hunt hooley was not my bunfight the cooking of this turkey was left to Lady Godiva. There were no worries on that score as she's as handy with the pots and pans as she is at riding off into the sunset on her trusty steed.

She drew on a process stored upstairs (funny the things women have in their heads) which involved the bird being wrapped in tinfoil (prevents drying out) and then subjected to a long, slow cook in an avocado and garlic infused oil. The foil was peeled back to allow numerous bastings during the process and a homemade stuffing mix cooked alongside the bird (not stuffed up its bum - her words not mine). She was bang on because that tender timer thingy popped up just at the right time and the carving was a doddle. That didn't happen the time I cooked the earlier Crozier bird as I put it in the roasting dish upside down.

The meat was a succulent white and there was plenty to share among the 20 or so who sat down to dine. There were other dishes as well (it was a pot luck do) but the turkey was hammered. Maybe the Crozier plan to make it a year-round meal option isn't such a bad idea and they're readily available in Taranaki. Peter Bingham

Taranaki Daily News