Merry Christmas – Turkey tips and leftover recipes

I would just like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas, and thank everyone who has visited my recipe blog over the last year.

I hope everyone has a happy Christmas, but also spare some thought for those less fortunate, please consider making a small donation to a charity.

I have some recipes included below that will help you make some delicious meals from your left over turkey, from curries to soups – lots of ideas to make your Christmas as delicious as possible.

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Christmas dinner tips

I always have a Prawn cocktail as a Christmas starter, as it is easy to prepare and quick to assemble before serving. The cocktail sauce is based upon a recipe created by my dad and just says “Christmas” to me.

Prawn cocktail

In terms of cooking your turkey, I have my own method and have a few tips for you. Preparation is everything, I always do my preparation on Christmas eve as Christmas day is always quite busy.

I make a mixture of butter, parsley, garlic and a seasoning, then carefully lift the skin off the bird at both ends by sliding my fingers between the meat and skin – taking care not to rip the skin. I then put as much of the butter mixture as I can under the skin to flavour and moisten the meat as it cooks.

My stuffing is a mixture of sausage meat, finely diced onion, parsley, sage, egg, breadcrumbs and seasoning – all well mixed together. I stuff the neck end of the bird and then use cocktail sticks or string to tie the neck closed.

In the main cavity I stuff the turkey with half a lemon, a bulb of garlic, a onion, a carrot, a bay leaf and a stick of celery. Once the Turkey is placed on the roasting tin I add some more onion, garlic, carrot, lemon, celery, a glass of white wine and some Christmas herbs (sage, parsley, rosemary and thyme) round the bird to help flavour it and its juices.

I then rub some more of the butter mixture on the outside of the turkey, then drizzle the turkey with generous seasoning, honey, then layer streaky bacon over the top. The turkey is then covered in a foil tent, which is kept on during most of the cooking time – remove it for the last 20-25 minutes, during which baste the turkey frequently.

In terms of cooking time, these are a guide – always check juices run clear (or use thermometer) before resting the turkey.

2.7kg – 3.6kg (6-8lbs)      2 ½ – 3 ¾ hrs
3.6kg – 4.5kg (8-10lbs)    3 ¼ – 3 ¾ hrs
4.5kg – 5.4kg (10-12lbs)  3 ¾ – 4 ¼ hrs

I find this method to be full proof, and guaranteed to give you flavoursome moist turkey meat.

For gravy, I collect the roasting juices and cook with a splash of white wine, a little red current jelly and a little cornflour to thicken it.

For sides, I par boil potatoes then roast them at a high temperature in duck fat with some rosemary. I also love honey glazed carrots and parsnips roasted in duck fat with a little thyme. Along with the mandatory pigs in blankets.

 

Leftovers

The recipes below are all suitable for making great tasting meals from leftover turkey, simply add the cooked turkey meat towards the end of cooking and heat it through thoroughly before serving. Personally I find strong Asian flavours to be a great accompaniment to leftover turkey.

Please email me at theferretchef@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Asian recipes

Madras Curry with Cucumber and mint Raita

Special Makhani with Pilau Rice

Makhani with Pilau Rice

Dhal Curry

Carrot and Coriander Curry

Lentil Curry

Korean Chilli noodles

Salad with Korean Chilli dressing

Chicken noodle soup

Stir Fried Chicken and Cashew Nuts

Sweet and Sour noodles

Prawn, Sweet Peppers and Cashew Nuts

Nasi Goreng

Mee Goreng

Indonesian Curry

Thai Red curry

Thai King Prawn Curry

Laksa

 

 

European recipes

Tomato Conchiglie with creamy béchamel and crispy cheese topping

Homemade Pizza

Linguine with Roasted tomato, Garlic and Romano Pepper sauce.

 

American recipes

Mexican Soup

Carne con Chile, Red Pepper Rice and Salsa

Enchiladas with tomato and guajillo chilli sauce.

 

Soups

Boil the turkey bones in a deep pan of water along with some carrots, onions, leeks, celery, bay leaf, peas, salt and some black peppercorns – boil for 20 minutes then cover and reduce to a simmer for at least 3-4 hours.

Make sure you use plenty of water relative to the turkey as the stock can be very strongly flavoured. For example I will be using just over 2L for a medium sized turkey.

Please check out my soups menu for recipe ideas, personally I think turkey stock is best used in tomato or vegetable based soups.

Soups menu

 

Once again have a very merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Tomato Conchiglie with creamy béchamel and crispy cheese topping

Pasta shells cooked in a delicious tomato sauce, topped with béchamel sauce and cheddar cheese then finished under a hot grill.

 

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Serves two people

Preparation and cooking time 30 minutes

Ingredients and method

200g dried Conchiglie – cooked to al dente as per packet instructions

150g mature cheddar cheese – grated 

75g butter

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 heaped dessert spoon plain flour

Approx. 500ml semi skimmed milk

Dried oregano – 1 tsp for tomato sauce, 1/3 tsp for béchamel 

1 tsp dried parsley

4 round tomatoes

4 cloves garlic

1 stick celery

1 red bell pepper

1 tsp brown sugar

2 tsp tomato puree

Black pepper for grinding

Sea salt – to taste

You need a food processor or mini chopper for the tomato sauce

 

To make the tomato sauce

In a large flat non stick frying pan dry fry over a medium heat, 4 tomatoes, 4 cloves garlic, 1 stick celery and 1 red bell pepper, turning occasionally until charred.

Remove from the pan and allow to cool on a chopping board. Then remove the garlic skins and the stalks/seeds from the bell pepper.

Transfer into a mini chopper along with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried parsley, 1 tsp brown sugar, 2 tsp tomato puree, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp of sea salt. Blitz until a smooth sauce is formed, set aside ready to cook.

To make the béchamel sauce

Melt approx. 75g butter in a sauce pan then add 1 heaped dessert spoon of flour and stir into a paste.

Add a small volume of milk, 1/3 tsp dried oregano, 1 bay leaf, 4-5 turns of a pepper grinder and stir well until a smooth sauce is formed.

Increase heat slightly and add approx. 250ml of milk, stirring well to keep a smooth sauce (Tip: you can use a whisk or silicone spatula to help keep sauce smooth).

Keep stirring as the milk heats and the sauce thickens, once it becomes thick add another 150ml milk and keep stirring as sauce heats again. Bring the sauce to the boil, if the sauce is too thick add a little more milk, stir well and bring back to the boil then fish out the bay leaf and remove the pan from the heat – set aside ready to add to the dish.

With a béchamel you want to keep adding milk whilst heating the sauce until it no longer thickens as it reaches boiling point. I have listed the milk as 500ml, however you may need slightly less or more – cooking a béchamel is one of those things that it is difficult to list an exact quantity for.

 

Cooking the dish

Start by cooking the pasta to al dente as per packet instructions, then drain and set aside ready to add to the pan.

In a deep wide frying pan add the blended tomato sauce and gently heat through until it bubbles and simmer for 4-5 minutes.

Add the pasta to the tomato sauce, stir well and simmer the pasta in the sauce for 2-3 minutes.

Pre heat your grill on a medium to hot setting (3/4 setting).

Give the pasta and tomato sauce another good stir then drizzle the béchamel sauce over the pasta, making sure the béchamel is distributed over the whole dish. Top with the grated mature cheddar.

Place under the hot grill and cook until the cheese melts and starts to colour, this should take 6-8 minutes depending on your grill. Once the cheese melts and colours like a pizza topping the dish is ready, remove from the grill and serve.

We had this dish with a leafy green side salad and some green beans, although it works just fine by itself – I hope you enjoy.

 

 

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King Prawn Linguine flavoured with Prawn and Pepper sauce.

Linguine pasta with king prawns, in a delicious sauce made from red pepper, tomato, garlic, basil, oregano, onion, flavoured with a stock made from the prawn heads and shells.

In this dish I use a simple stock made from prawn shells and heads to get every bit of flavour from the prawns. This is added to a flavour base (red pepper, garlic, tomato, basil, oregano, tomato pure, olive oil and onion) and cooked down to intensify the flavour. The sauce is completed with seasoning and a little sugar for sweetness. The raw prawns are gently cooked in the sauce, then the pasta is added to the sauce for the final few minutes of cooking, then finished with a little lemon juice.

I am really proud of this recipe and hope you like it as much as I do. Its very easy to make and certain to impress friends and family.

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Serves two

Preparation time 15 minutes, cooking time 12-15 minutes

 

Ingredients and method

150g good quality dried linguine – cook as per packet instructions to al dente 

250-300g Raw whole King Prawns – see method

250-300ml water

1-2 tbsp. olive oil

1 red bell pepper – remove stalk and seeds

1 large beef tomato – remove core

12 basil leaves – plus a few extra for a garnish

1 medium size red onion – peel

4 large garlic cloves – peel, crush

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp. tomato pure

1 tsp brown sugar

Freshly ground black pepper – see method

Salt to taste – season at end once stock has reduced

Juice of half a lemon – cut other half into wedges to serve

You require a mini chopper of food processor for this recipe

 

Method: Begin by removing the shells and heads from the raw prawns, devein the prawns and set aside.

Pour 250-300ml of water into a sauce pan and bring to the boil, add the prawn shells and heads and simmer for 10-15 minutes until stock has reduced to 200ml. Unlike stocks from vegetables or animal bones stocks made from shellfish absorb all the flavour very quickly. Once reduced set aside ready to add to the dish.

Make the flavour base by adding the red pepper, basil, oregano, garlic, tomato, tomato pure, onion and olive oil to the mini chopper, blend until a smooth sauce is formed. Set aside ready to add to the pan.

Cook the pasta as per packet instructions (around 10-12 minutes), as soon as this starts begin to cook the pasta sauce. Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat and add the blended sauce, stir frequently and cook for 5 minutes to bring out all the flavours in the sauce. Take care not to burn the sauce and if it begins to catch on the pan add a little of the prawn stock to loosen it.

Next add the prawn stock to the pan, stir well, increase heat to bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add a tsp of brown sugar and a generous amount of black pepper, do not add any salt until the dish is reduced. Keep simmering and stirring occasionally until sauce has reduced in half (should take 4-5 minutes), then taste test and add salt to taste.

Once the pasta is cooked drain it and set it aside ready to add to the pan.

Add the raw prawns to the simmering sauce and gently stir until they change from grey to pink (60-90 seconds), take care not to overcook them. I would recommend deliberately undercooking them here as they will finish cooking as you add the pasta.

Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and gently stir the sauce through the pasta and cook for 1 minute. Finish the dish by adding  juice of half a lemon and stir through to lift the sauce.

Serve immediately and garnish with a few torn basil leaves.

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Pan fried Tiger Prawns on a bed of Crab Linguine with Roasted tomato, Garlic and Romano Pepper sauce.

Pan fried Tiger prawns on a bed of crab linguine with roasted Jack Hawkins tomato, garlic and red Romano pepper sauce.

I came up with this recipe after watching a lot of Mediterranean cookery shows recently. My aim was to come up with a tomato based pasta sauce which had a different taste to my usual pasta sauce. I didn’t copy any particular recipe more like used techniques I saw in a variety of these shows showcasing local chefs making traditional local dishes.

I bought some nice large Jack Hawkins tomatoes and thought they would make an excellent base for the sauce. I decided to roast one along with some round tomatoes, garlic in its skin and a deseeded Romano red pepper – this is the base for the sauce and roasting them before cooking brings out their rich deep flavours. Once roasted and cooled I removed the skins from all three, as well as the core of the tomatoes, then blend them into a smooth sauce.

With the second Jack Hawkins tomato I used a blowtorch to blister then remove the skin, then removed the core and diced the tomato. I added the chopped tomato to a bowl along with some finely chopped parsley and basil. The purpose of this is to give both added flavour and texture to the dish.

I had some really nice Indonesian tiger prawns which I pan-fried in their shells with some olive oil until they were just cooked – its so important not to overcook prawns as they just become tough and chewy. I cooked them in the same pan that I then cooked the pasta sauce to get every last bit of flavour.

The sauce itself was made by frying the chopped herb/tomato mixture in a little olive oil along with a splash of white wine followed by the roasted sauce. The pasta was cooked until all dente, drained then finished off in the sauce so that it absorbed the delicate yet deep flavour. Some crab meat was added to the pan so that it was heated through by the steam from the sauce then carefully and gently mixed through the sauce with the back of a wooden spoon so that the chunks of crab meat stayed intact. The Pasta was then spooned into pasta bowls and the cooked prawns carefully placed interlocking on top.

I was really pleased with the results and can confidently say that this was not just restaurant standard but very good restaurant standard. I will be cooking this again for certain.

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Serves two people

Preparation 20-25 minutes, cooking time less than 15 minutes

 

Ingredients

200g dried Linguine – I used De Cecco, cooking times may vary  

2 Large Jack Hawkins tomatoes – use beef or other large varieties as alternative

4 cloves garlic – keep skin on

1 romano red pepper – remove seeds and stalk

3-4 round tomatoes

4 large Tiger prawns – devein in shell, keep head on. Trim legs and feelers with scissors

180g tinned white crab meat – drain before use

8-10 basil leafs

1-2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

100ml dry white wine – choose one which works with shellfish

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

Sea salt – generous pinch plus extra to taste

Black peppercorn mill

1 tsp brown sugar

 

Method: Start by roasting the red pepper, garlic, 1 jack Hawkins tomato and the round tomatoes in a hot oven (approx. 200°C) for 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Once cooled remove the skins and the tomato core then add to a mini chopper/food processor and blitz until a smooth sauce is formed.

Remove skin from the second Jack Hawkins tomato, I used a blowtorch, however this could also be done by boiling the tomato in water for 3-4 minutes then placing in a bowl of cold water. Dice this tomato and add to a bowl along with the chopped herbs.

Cook the pasta as per packet instructions until all dente in well salted water. In a deep frying pan heat 2-3 tbsp. of olive oil until very hot, add the prawns and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side – the second they turn pink they are ready, don’t keep cooking them as the residual heat from shells will finish them. Set them aside on a plate ready to add to final dish, retain the oil in pan to cook the sauce.

Add the chopped tomato and herbs to the pan and fry over a medium high heat for 1-2 minutes then add the wine. Stir and fry for a further 2 minutes then pour in the roasted sauce, stir well until combined. Add a generous amount of black pepper, 1 tsp brown sugar and a generous pinch of salt then stir well until combined with the sauce. Add the cooked pasta, mix well then taste for seasoning, add extra if required. Carefully add the crab meat to the top of the pasta sauce and let the steam from the pasta heat the crab for 1-2 minutes then use the back of a spoon and gently mix the crab through the pasta, try to keep the crab chunks intact.

Spoon the pasta into pre-heated pasta bowls then place the cooked prawns interlocking on top. Serve immediately and enjoy!

 

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Lasagna

My version of this classic Italian dish.

Layers of rich smooth beef bolognese, creamy cheese bechamel separated by egg lasagna sheets topped with cheddar and Parmesan cheese.

For me a lasagna should have a rich smooth bolognese and this is achieved by making a paste from the flavour base of tomato paste, onion, celery, carrot, garlic, herbs and spices. The paste is fried to release its flavours like you would do to a curry paste. Mince is browned in a separate pan, drained then added to the paste. Passata, red wine, seasoning, a little sugar and a dash of Worcester sauce give the bolognese a wonderful deep rich flavour.

The bechamel should be nice and creamy and is made with flour, butter, milk, pinch of nutmeg, oregano, seasoning and some grated cheese.  Its important not to over season it as a lot of salt will come out of the added cheese.

Many people will say you must use fresh pasta, but I am a fan of good quality dried pasta – as are many of the worlds top chefs, who use it in their high end restaurants.

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Serves 3-4 people

Preparation time 40 minutes

Cooking time 35-40 minutes

You require a mini blender for this recipe

Ingredients

For the flavour base paste:

Three small white onions

Two sticks of celery

Two small carrots

Handful of fresh basil leafs

Handful of fresh flat leaf parsley leafs

Three quarters of a teaspoon of smoked paprika

Half a teaspoon of ground cumin

One and a half teaspoons of dried oregano

A teaspoon of salt

A teaspoon of ground black pepper

A tablespoon  of extra virgin olive oil

Two tablespoons of tomato paste

Four cloves of garlic

Use a mini blender or food processor to blend into a smooth paste

For the bolognese:

400g Good quality steak mince (10%% fat is best)

650-700g Passata

One glass of red wine

One desert spoon brown sugar

Generous dash of Worcester sauce

For the Bechamel sauce:

One heaped desert spoon of plain flour

approx 35g of butter

approx 500ml of semi skimmed milk

Pinch of fried oregano

Pinch of nutmeg

50g grated cheddar

10g grated Parmesan

To complete the dish:

A packet of dried lasagna sheets

Approx 125g grated cheddar cheese (medium is best)

Approx 25g grated Parmesan

Equipment required:

A mini blender/chopper

A deep non stick frying pan

A deep oven dish

A saucepan to make the bechamel

A colander to drain the browned mince

Get cooking!

  1. Start by browning the mince in the frying pan over a medium heat, once browned tip the mince into a colander to drain the mince of the excess fat. Set aside.
  2. Next add the paste to the pan and fry over a medium heat, stirring frequently for 4-5 minutes. You want to cook the paste through to release all its wonderful flavours. If the paste sticks to the pan loosen with a little water rather than adding any extra oil.
  3. Tip the mince back in and stir well until the mince and paste are combined, fry for a further minute or so then add the passata, the red wine, a desert spoon of brown sugar and a generous dash of Worcester sauce. Stir well and heat through to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Now make the bechamel sauce. Start by melting the butter over a medium heat then add a heaped desert spoon of plain flour. Stir well to form a smooth paste then start adding the milk and as it heats the sauce will thicken. Once half the milk (approx 250ml) is added sprinkle in a pinch of oregano and nutmeg along with a little ground black pepper. Keep adding the milk and bringing it to a simmer until the sauce does not thicken any more. The sauce should be of the same consistency as a batter. Tip: is best to add a little at a time as it is easier to keep the sauce smooth. It is vital to keep stirring to keep the sauce smooth and to prevent the flour sticking to pan bottom and burning. If the sauce does become lumpy use a whisk to make it smooth again.
  5. Once the sauce is ready add 50g grated cheddar and 10g grated Parmesan and stir through the sauce until it has melted, this will give the sauce a creamy cheese taste, perfect to balance the rich bolognese.
  6. Pre heat your oven to 180॰c/170॰c fan assisted.
  7. Now to assemble the dish: layer the bottom of the dish with pasta sheets, cut them to size if required. Then spoon a generous layer of the bolognese (use approx half) over the pasta. Now add a layer of pasta sheets on top of the bolognese then spoon a generous layer of the bechamel sauce on top. Add a further layer of pasta, then spoon the rest of the bolognese on top before adding a layer of pasta sheets on top. Pour a generous layer of bechamel on top then sprinkle a good covering of grated cheddar and Parmesan on top.
  8. Add to the centre of the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes until the dish is bubbling and the cheese on top has turned golden. Remove from the oven, it is best to let the dish sit for at least 30 minutes before eating if you can wait that long!
  9. Serve and enjoy!

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