The full menu for the meal, looked like this :
Roasted Kelly Bronze Turkey
Pigs in blankets
Roasted Potatoes & Parsnips
Brussels Sprouts with bacon & chestnuts
Carrots en Vichy
with a nice Zinfandel served alongside.
Sounds pretty good, doesn't it?
Well, I can tell you that it was almost all absolutely divine - all except the stuffing balls, which were truly disgusting and got thrown into the bin. However, I'll tell you all about those in just a while.
Let's talk Turkey, first. I have, at this point, to remind you all that I am coming at this from the perspective of someone who has had to count every penny in order to get through the month. Literally, every penny. Some months, we were down to just 5p in the account - but at least the account was still in credit, which is more than can be said for a lot of accounts! So, to be faced with a Kelly Bronze Turkey that was worth a completely staggering £73.95 ~gasp~ was almost more than hubby or I could bear. You cannot imagine the sheer guilt involved in converting that much money's-worth of Turkey into meals. That Turkey was worth more than a week's shopping has cost us, in the past. It was just jaw-dropping.
|Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it's a Kelly Bronze Turkey!|
The only way to approach this process, we found, was to deal with it in two ways. Firstly, consider it as "work". We had been given these lovely ingredients by Knorr, to make into lovely meals, in return for blogging copiously about it. Now the fact that I enjoy doing both those two things, just means that I'm lucky enough to have a "job" that I enjoy - and was going to particularly enjoy working with the Foreman & Field Seasonal Box. Secondly, we felt compelled to take that Turkey as far as we possibly could push it. Hence, we currently have on the list, the following : a roast "Christmas" dinner; a Turkey Leftover Curry; a Turkey pie; Turkey stock; a Turkey soup and several lunch incarnations of various leftovers. Not to mention that the dogs will have enjoyed their fair share of the bounty, too - receiving various inedible bits and the giblets. If we can take it any further, rest assured we will.
|All ready for the oven, including 2 onions "up its jacksy", to quote Jamie Oliver|
The Kelly Bronze came, most obligingly, with a booklet with gave full cooking instructions which helped no end. Just how scared was I, of ruining this beautiful bird by overcooking it? Yep, you've got it - pretty darned worried. So I followed the instructions to the letter - roasting the bird "upside down" so that the fat could trickle through the breast meat and so keep it moist and roasting it for the prescribed 20 minutes in a very hot oven, then an hour in a medium oven.
I only wish that I could have bottled the smell of that Turkey cooking. As hubby said, it took him back to Christmasses of yore, when his Granny would be doing the cooking and Turkeys were fresh as opposed to frozen and more than likely free range. It sounds a bit of a tall tale, but it truly did smell totally different to a standard old supermarket turkey (the one that we're all, not surprisingly as it turns out, so bored with).
|Hand me the carvers, Gloria, I'm going in!|
What emerged from the oven was a gloriously golden, beautifully roasted, succulent and supremely tasty Turkey. I have a terrible suspicion that we've now been spoiled for any other kind of Turkey - and are definitely not going to be spending £70+ on a Kelly Bronze, no matter how gorgeous it is - at Christmas.
Following on from a half-hour's resting time, I carved the Turkey and broke the quantity of meat down into individual meals, to make freezing the remainder easier. I was - and indeed still am - just amazed at how much meat came off of that Turkey. To say I was up to my elbows in it, wouldn't be far wrong.
The carcass immediately went into the slow cooker with an assortment of vegetables, to begin the process of making the stock - of which more in another blog post.
The portion of meat for the Roast Dinner went into a pyrex bowl, to have gravy added and be popped into the oven to warm through at dinner time. So much easier than trying to juggle with roasties, vegetables, gravy AND the Turkey! In any case, we wouldn't have had room in our oven for the Turkey and the roasties, so it was essential that I roast the bird beforehand.
The "Pigs in blankets" took the form of some Musks's Special Recipe Christmas Chipolatas, wound round with some of Emmett's Black Mild-Cured Streaky Bacon, which we also used for the Brussels Sprouts and the last of which I shall use in the Turkey pie. At around £4.50 for a 250g pack, the bacon is something else I'll be determined to make the most of! It was a shame that the chipolatas had been previously frozen, as that has made utilising the leftovers a bit short on timescale, as we obviously can't freeze them again. They're going to form part of my lunch today, I think.
I liked the chipolatas and son & heir seemed to approve too, but hubby wasn't so keen. They were an interesting mix of Pork (50%), Bread (wheat flour, water, yeast, salt), Rusk (wheat flour, salt) Cranberries, Chestnut Puree (chestnuts, water, sugar, salt), Dehydrated Onion, Demerara Sugar, Spices, Sage, Orange & Lemon Peel, and Salt. As a "pig in blanket", the chipolatas were completely overawed by the quality of the superb bacon, but he found them to be too "mealy" and a bit lacking in flavour. A shame, as they retail at around £3.75 for a pack of 10, which is a wee bit pricey - but then, Musk's do carry a Royal Warrant, which has got to be worth at least 50p on the price.
The bacon though. Oh, the bacon! Emmett's have been providing Suffolk ham and bacon since 1820 and also have received a Royal Warrant. However, the difference is that here you can taste the years in the cure of the bacon. In fact, just open the bag and inhale - there's a whole lot of history involved in that sweet smokiness. The depth and layers of fragrance just don't arrive because someone has had a good idea about what to cure the bacon with - they come through years of practice.
The smell of that bacon cooking to accompany the brussels sprouts, dominated the kitchen in the most mouth-watering way possible. Closely followed by the Pigs in blankets sizzling away in the oven, the place took on a very satisfactorily bacony character. However, the true worth of the bacon is the fact that the flavour is even better than the smell. I reckon that the Turkey was the star of the show - but the bacon was a very close second.
Even the dogs enjoyed the bacon, as I popped the trimmed bacon rind into the oven to bake - and the dogs had that with their tea. Everyone ate every scrap that was in their bowl, so I think it's safe to say they approved - which I'm sure you are significantly reassured by. *chuckle*
I wish it were possible to speak in such glowing terms as regards the "Finest Quality Cranberry Walnut & Smoked Bacon stuffing" from Foreman & Field. As it states on the pack lid, the stuffing has been previously frozen - which wouldn't be a problem, as in my experience, stuffing balls don't tend to hang around waiting to be eaten! However, it was a big problem in this instance, because as I was forming the stuffing into balls, it was necessary to squeeze the water from the mix. Gross, or what? Not a good start - and the situation didn't improve, as the cooked stuffing tasted stale and old. You know that "old rancid fat" taste that cheap, cheap sausages have? No? Well, think yourself lucky then. This stuffing was on the verge of decomposition, I reckon.
The vegetables that were included in the box (parsnips, carrots, brussels sprouts) were all lovely quality, fresh and tasty. Something amazing happened with regard to the Brussels Sprouts with bacon & chestnuts, mind you! Hubby - that self-confessed disliker of all things Brussels Sprouty - ate three of them! All of which might go some way towards giving you an understanding of how truly gorgeous the bacon was, alongside some beautifully soft, sweet chestnuts. I'll be using the remainder of the chestnuts in the pastry for the Turkey pie, I think.
The Carrots en Vichy were simplicity itself to make and I think we'll be re-visiting this recipe again, very soon.
You simply prepare the amount of carrots you need, by peeling, then slicing them lengthways. Place them into a saucepan and just cover with water (Vichy water, if you want to be precise - but we used simple tap water). Add a teaspoon of sugar and a large knob of butter, bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and allow the water to cook away until you're left with cooked, glazed carrots. Gorgeous!
The Turkey gravy was another revelation, as it caused son & heir to abandon his love for dry food in favour of a plate swimming in gorgeous Turkey gravy. I made the gravy with the Turkey Stock, supported by one of the Knorr Stock Pots to just boost the intensity of the flavours. I had been able to skim all the fat from the stock, but will have to admit to starting with a butter/flour roux when making the gravy, so it wasn't low fat at all. What it was, however, was completely gorgeous and more like a Turkey soup than gravy!
Again, I have to thank Knorr for the opportunity of cooking this feast, but most of all, I have to thank hubby for the hours he has put in over the weekend, peeling, chopping, calculating timings, getting things out of and into the oven, watching over boiling pots, laying tables, taking photographs and just doing all the legwork. I honestly couldn't have done it without him, so he deserves most of the credit for the production of both this meal and the Christmas Buffet. Thanks, darring!