We usually end up having Christmas dinner elsewhere because we visit family, so we have a tradition where one day over the weekend before Christmas, we pick a day and have a ‘fake Christmas’. We exchange gifts, watch festive movies and I cook a proper turkey dinner with all the trimmings.
This year, Kieran and I aren’t spending Christmas together as he is going home to Ireland and I am in Southport visiting my mum and grandparents. That means that our fake Christmas day together was even more important this year! We had ‘fake Christmas’ last Saturday, the day after our work party, which I definitely regretted when I was knee deep in stuffing, bread sauce and red cabbage – but was all made worth it when it was done and I could finally sit down with the result of all my hungover hard work.
As I’m only cooking for the two, I usually just buy the smallest turkey crown I can find – usually from a budget supermarket *coughAldicough*. I likes the sound of this italian style recipe as it wasn’t using the same old sage and onion stuffing, but the pancetta and lemon flavours are still distinctly Christmas.
The original recipe suggests that you cover the turkey with pancetta to keep it moist, but I never do that as I don’t like the texture of it and I like a nice crispy turkey skin. The turkey meat will still be nice and moist as long as you don’t overcook it – I always rely on my trusty meat thermomter to make sure the thickest part of the meat reaches 160F (or 70c) before serving.
Heat oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5. Rinse the turkey then pat dry with kitchen paper. Weigh it to calculate the cooking time, allowing 20 mins per kg, plus 70 mins.
Make the stuffing. Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan. Tip in the onions and garlic, and fry for 5-8 mins until softened and starting to turn golden. Push the onions to one side of the pan, then add the pine nuts and continue to fry for 1 min more, stirring the nuts until golden. Remove from the heat and cool slightly. Stir in the remaining oil, all but a small handful of the Parmesan and the remaining stuffing ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Loosely spoon stuffing mixture (don’t pack it down) into an oiled ovenproof dish, drizzle with a little extra olive oil, sprinkle with remaining Parmesan, then lay a sheet of baking parchment on top. Set aside. Can be made 1 day ahead and chilled.
Sit the turkey on a board, very lightly rub all over with olive oil and season with pepper. Stuff the turkey with your stuffing. Put the onion wedges in the middle of a large roasting tin and sit the crown on top. Cover the turkey with a loose tent of foil, then roast following your calculated time.
Thirty mins before the end of the cooking time, remove the turkey and increase oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Roast the garlic. Remove the foil, place the garlic halves and lemon wedges around the turkey, then baste them and the turkey with the cooking juices. Return the tin to the oven and continue to roast for the final 30 mins. To test if cooked, pierce the fattest part of the crown with a skewer – the juices should run clear, not pink. If they are pink, continue to roast, checking at 10 min intervals.