Christmas Roundup 3: The "big Chicken" Is Stuffed

As I mentioned at the start of this roundup, Saffron-Papa had already chosen a "big chicken" (in his parlance, of course) for our Christmas turkey feast prior to the Young Man and I arriving in Australia. Given that there were to be 12 around our table this Christmas, it was somewhat of a bigger bird than the ones I usually get in Japan! And as we all know, turkey has a bit of a bad rep for cooking up dry. However, using the advice of our good friend Nigella Lawson, as usual, our bird came out juicily tender, the meat falling off the bone.

A bit of a stuffing junkie, I like to stuff both the neck and body cavities with, usually, a cranberry and orange bread stuffing and a herb and nut one. I am rather attached to the cranberry and orange stuffing, which is my approximation of a recipe cited by Nigella in How to Eat, but plumping up dried cranberries with fresh orange juice rather than using fresh ones. I certainly wanted it this year, but I was willing to compromise (g) on the other one. Saffron-Papa, the co-chef of the day, chose a lemon and herb number, for which he chopped up a mountain of fresh herbs from the garden. I mention the herb garden again only because of complete jealousy at the parents' ability to use fresh herbs with wanton abandon. They have more than they can use, in fact, lucky devils!

Cranberry and orange stuffing

Serves 8-10

Zest of one orange and juice of 1-2 more
350 g dried cranberries
125 g butter
500 g fresh breadcrumbs
2 eggs
fresh nutmeg

1 Zest one of the oranges and juice it and one more. Put the cranberries in a small, heavy based saucepan with the orange juice and zest. Bring to the simmering point on a moderate to high flame, then cover and simmer for 5 minutes. The cranberries should have plumped up, but if they are still not their full size, repeat with the juice of the remaining orange. Add the butter in slices and stir, off the heat, until it melts. I usually do this a day early, to make things easier of Christmas Day.

2 Add the breadcrumbs, or, if you made up the cranberry mixture earlier, reheat on a low flame until slightly runny, then add the breadcrumbs and the eggs, beaten. Season with salt and pepper and plenty of fresh grated nutmeg.

3 Either stuff into the turkey before cooking or make into individual portions in a muffin tin and bake for around 10 min, or until lightly golden, at 180 C. This should be done while the turkey is resting and the oven is free.

I can report that Saffron-Papa's stuffing selection was a resounding success. It was based loosely on another recipe in The Ultimate Christmas Cookbook. I include the original recipe here in case I change my mind about the herb and nut stuffing next year. Use your own judgement about the herbs you use and how much. Saffron-Papa used thyme, rosemary and marjoram, I believe.

Parsley, lemon and herb stuffing

Makes around 400g, enough to stuff the neck cavity of a 4 kg bird

115 g fresh breadcrumbs
25 g butter
25 g chopped fresh parsley
grated rind of 1 lemon
1 small egg, beaten
salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl and stir to combine them thoroughly.