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What we had @ dinner last Christmas!

by on December 29, 2009

I’m an MOT (mother-of-three), life has changed since I was a teenager.

IMG_7394 A long time ago, schedules were kept and routines followed. In the days BC (Before Children), alarm clocks worked and children slept in their beds. But that was a long time ago.

So when we got up on Christmas morning in good time to brunch, I wasn’t complaining at all. By afternoon, neither my husband nor I were hungry and so I took my time prepping dinner, which involved a roast, potatoes and all the required sides. Testimony to the fact that I am truly grown up now, and not a stickler for anything – mealtimes, holiday meals, nothing :-)!

This year I hadn’t quite made up my mind on what exactly I’d cook. My first consideration was Ling al Cartoccio but that was not to be because I didn’t find all the required ingredients when I went on my last minute, Christmas eve shopping spree, after making some delish cookies! 2nd choice: Turkey breast hasselback! Yep, you heard me right, Turkey hasselback. I love hasselback potatoes and I figured the technique would work with meat and it does – tried and tested.

So the day before, I boiled up my potatoes and brined my 3 pound Turkey breast. On Christmas day, I dug the meat out of the brine and cooked it, kept it warm and then enjoyed a nice dinner with the husband and still had enough Turkey left over for Fried rice, Turkey pizza, Turkey-stuffed bread and…more to come.


Dinner was:

Slices of Turkey breast and stuffing

Potatoes, roasted in duck fat

Homemade gravy

Brussel sprouts with bacon, carrots and chestnuts

Cranberry and Pear sauce

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The day before: I brined the Turkey and boiled the potatoes.

To brine the Turkey: Combine ½ cup kosher salt (I used sea salt), ½ cup sugar, and 6 cups water in a container.

Stir the liquids to dissolve the solids.

Put the turkey breast in a Ziploc bag, and put that inside of a bowl. Pour the brine inside the bag, and put it in the fridge for 6–8 hours.

Note: The longer you leave it in the brine, the stronger the solution will be.

IMG_6352On the day: I cooked the Turkey, roasted the potatoes, made some gravy and rustled up the veggies.

To make the Turkey hasselback


I used a pack mix of stuffing and added some fresh sage leaves to accentuate the flavours.

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Prepare a shallow baking tin, oiled and layered with onion slices (which will be handy for the gravy). Apparently, using a shallow tin to roast turkey allows the air circulate better, leaving you with a moist bird!

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Preheat the oven to 260 degrees Centigrade (about 500 degrees Fahrenheit).

1) Hasselbacking

Remove Turkey from brine and shake off excess liquid (no need to dry). Place it on a chopping board.

Using a sharp knife, make slashes/slices across the length about 1cm apart – till you have hasslebacks. Be careful not to cut right through, you want to make the cuts but still keep the breast whole.

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Fill each cut with some stuffing and press the turkey breast back together to shape.

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Place on the shallow oiled tray and place  the tray on the rack two rungs from the bottom. Let roast for half an hour.

When the 30 minutes, is up, lower the temperature  to 180 degrees Centigrade (about 360 degrees Fahrenheit). At this stage, the breast had taken on some colour so I covered it with a piece of foil and left it to cook for another 40 minutes, and then it was ready.

IMG_6405I left it to rest, relaxed, had a cuppa and waited for everyone to get hungry before putting the rest of the meal together!

IMG_74162)  Roast Potatoes

Place halved potatoes in a roasting pan, sprinkle some salt over them and dot with some duck fat. Roast them for 30-40 minutes at about 180 degrees centigrade (about 360 degrees Fahrenheit).

IMG_73723) Veggies

Clean and prep the sprouts; Skin and slice the carrots into rounds. Place sprouts in steamer for 3-4 minutes, seasoning with some salt. Add the carrots and let steam together for another couple of minutes. Take off heat and open pan to prevent further cooking.

Desalt the bacon and cut into bits, if using rasher; chop chestnuts.

In a pan on medium – low heat, add bacon and let cook for a minute or two. Toss in chestnuts, sprouts and carrots and stir. Let heat up and when hot, turn off heat and toss in a bit of butter. Serve immediately…or almost, if you can.


3) Gravy

Combine the juices from the roasting pan with some water.

Make a roux (I made mine with a bit more flour than butter). Cook that for a couple of minutes, then using a whisk, slowly add liquids.

If the mixture is becoming too clumpy, take it off the heat for a moment and whisk well,drizzling in the liquid. If this doesn’t work, use a sieve to rid the sauce of the lumps.

When you’re at the smooth stage, adjust to taste  by seasoning and let cook another 2-3 minutes, till ready.

IMG_74614) The Cranberry and Pear sauce

…was made last week!


The verdict:


The Turkey was perfectly cooked. Soft, juicy and incredibly tasty. I loved the stuffing and turkey combination as well.With each mouthful, I became more and more enthralled.

The potatoes were a nice golden colour, crusty and crunchy on the outside and soft and velvety on the inside. A perfect template for the gravy and vegetables. While my husband was not taken in by the chestnuts, I was. Completely. The saltiness of the bacon matched the sweetness of the carrots and chestnuts, and the peculiar taste of the sprouts, all laced together in a buttery assembly.

And to top it all, I must confess that the cranberry and pear sauce was out of this world. I mean it. When I loaded a dollop of burgundy-purple sauce onto the plate, I couldn’t see any whole cranberries. They had dissolved and melted into a sauce holding the poached pear chunks together. The combination of saucy, tart, sweet, textured was a confluence…never before seen and I declare this a winner. A must-repeat. One to hand down to generations and generations……And so shall it be in Jesus name, Amen!

All washed down with a glass of Pinot something…or the other.

IMG_7387It was a great meal and one that will be remembered for the rest of the week (leftovers and all) and maybe forever!

And you, what was your favourite Christmas meal and why?[wpurp-searchable-recipe]What we had @ dinner last Christmas! – – – [/wpurp-searchable-recipe]