Saturday, 27 September 2014

British Turkey Awards and a 5kg bird

On Thursday I had dinner at The Savoy. This is not, it pains me to admit, a normal sort of weeknight activity. But it was the British Turkey Awards, where I found myself crowned (no crown actually involved, but I got a trophy and a certificate) British Turkey Blogger Recipe of the Year for my turkey b'stilla.

It was a very grand event. Champagne reception, grace, Loyal Toast, the whole shebang. There were several women in floor-length gowns and opera-length gloves and all but one of the men wore a dinner jacket. Paul, the notable exception, looked like Columbo.

I felt very lucky to be seated next to Robert Clark and Karen McQuade, veterans of the British Turkey Awards, who were able to explain some of the elements of the night. Like the bizarre "heads and tails" charity collection game and the boo-ing at some of the award nominees. Every group has its traditions! Anyway, unfortunately we had to hurtle off mid-ceremony, to catch the last train. Everyone else seemed settled in for the duration, so I suspect The Strand was populated by very hungover turkey farmers and retailers on Friday.

It only seems appropriate for me now to share a turkey post.

One of the things that British Turkey is trying to do is get people to see turkey as an every day meat and not just a Christmas thing. Which means that fresh turkey is increasingly available outside the Christmas season.

At Easter, in fact, we bought a 5kg fresh free-range Bronze turkey at a 50% discount, so it was £22. Clearly, for a family of two people a 5kg bird is a ridiculous size, so I assembled poultry shears and a sharp knife and watched a couple of youtube tutorials on jointing poultry and set to work. I vividly remember laying out the pieces on the board to take pictures of them, but I can't find any pictures of the completed butchery.

We ended up with a turkey crown, 2 wing portions, 2 thigh portions and 2 drumsticks, and the carcass, wing tips, leg joints and giblets for stock. All but the crown went into the freezer for later consideration.
Roast turkey crown
The crown, which weighed 2.2kg, we ate roasted. I lifted the breast skin and smeared the flesh with a compound butter, flavoured with lemon zest, garlic and anchovies. I gave it 30 minutes at 200C, then 45 minutes at 170C. We had it hot with roast potatoes and peas and it was just delicious - crisp-skinned with moist, flavourful flesh. The potatoes were also some of my better roasties.
Of course, 2.2kg is still a big roast, even if that includes a fair amount of bone. It left 700g meat to be stripped from the carcass. That meant two portions of a warm noodle salad with a chilli peanut dressing...
My 6" springform tin pays for itself again and again
... and three portions of pie. The pie was very Christmassy, really, with bacon, sage and onion, some of the jellied juices from the roast, a couple of tablespoons of dried cranberries and 50g Stilton, broken into chunks.
As you can imagine (or have experienced at Christmas), after that turkey-filled week we were quite happy to leave the rest of the pieces in the freezer for a fair while after that. But eventually, we were ready to face turkey again.

I boned out the wings and stuffed them with minced prawns and waterchestnuts, then pan-fried them. They were delicious as part of a dim sum meal, but would have made a good supper just with rice and vegetables.
The thighs I also intended to bone-out and stuff, but I ended up with much more stuffing than would fit. I butterflied them and made sort of a sandwich with the stuffing (which was rice, spinach and 'nduja) in between and baked it.The dark thigh meat has enough flavour to stand up to robust 'nduja without being completely overpowered.
Turkey thighs sandwiched with rice, spinach and 'nduja.
Then the drumsticks got a Mexican-inspired treatment. They were barbecued with a lot of smoke so that the skin was crisp and lacquered, and the meat falling off the bone, and served with a spicy peanut mole sauce.

That just left the bag of bits for stock. I added the turkey trimmings and giblets to a couple of roast chicken carcasses and the usual aromatics and simmered them to a rich broth. Some of the broth I then reheated with a couple of dried porcini mushrooms steeping in it, while I made some dumplings filled with minced turkey, more dried porcini and herbs. I roasted cubes of butternut and some sage leaves. Then I cooked the dumplings in simmering water before serving them in the broth with Asian mushrooms and the butternut - and there were three portions of that. My freezer is now empty of turkey and I am ready to start planning Christmas (I know it's still September!). We might have turkey this year.


Bettina Douglas said...

I would like all of those meals. Surely the key to turkey is to get good a free-range bird. A while ago I bought turkey mince from a supermarket. It was dry and flavourless. The dogs were happy about it but I considered it inedible.

Cathleen said...

I am getting hungry just looking at your pictures!

Taste of Beirut said...

Congratulations! That is wonderful. Those dumplings are calling to me!!

Pam said...

This all looks delicious, perfect for this time of year.

Jenny @ BAKE said...

Congratulations Alicia! It sounds like it was a brilliant evening, and your turkey recipes look incredible! I have quite a fondness for turkey burgers, they are so moist!

grace said...

i'm nearly overwhelmed by all the good food here!
many congrats to you--if any blogger is worthy of an award, it's you!

Couscous & Consciousness said...

Congratulations on a well-deserved win - that b'stilla looks amazing. And so many wonderful ideas for cooking turkey - we don't eat turkey so much here and I never would have imagined anything much beyond roasting it.

Joanne said...

Congratulations on your award!!


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