It’s all turkey

We have quite a small nuclear family, just Jane & Hannah, so we always invite friends to join us for a Christmas meal. The Verrall family traditionally opt for a very large hen turkey, sourced from a local farm, and we need the extra mouths so we don’t look quite so greedy.

Hannah does the cooking, with Jane in charge of preparing all the veg. The routine follows the family traditions fairly closely, with the turkey cooked slowly overnight, upside down to keep it moist. This does sometimes produce a rather square looking bird, but we’ve never had a dry turkey so it does seem to do the trick.

As for veg, we also keep to our own variations of traditional fare: crisp roast potatoes, mashed carrot & parsnip (never turnip!), sprouts with chestnuts, and creamed celeriac, flavoured with a touch of nutmeg.

For Jane, the most important part of the meal, even ahead of the sprouts & chestnuts or the turkey itself, is the gravy. Luckily, Hannah has inherited her grandparents’ skill at gravy making, using nothing but the turkey juices, a touch of veg water, some flour and chicken stock she prepares a few weeks in advance & freezes. Stock cubes & gravy browning aren’t required.

Given the quantities of food during the main course, we avoid having starters and rarely have room for the homemade pudding or cake or the selection of local cheeses. Well, until later in the evening, of course.

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