Continental Christmas

One of the joys of having a Pan-European team at Roullier White is the bouncing around of ideas, sharing recipes and tips. Nothing is more interesting than other countries’ festive traditions.

Although a Victorian name, the notion of stuffing meat and fish goes back to Roman times, when it was first documented. Wrongly presuming stuffing to be a uniquely British dish, I quizzed my continental colleagues.

Roberta Cattaneo joyfully gave me her father’s favourite stuffed turkey recipe. Wash and dry a 4 to 5kg turkey inside and outside – remembering to remove the giblets which are usually in a bag inside. Take 1kg of roasted and peeled chestnuts, 300g dried prunes - soaked overnight in a mixture of water and white wine - 300g of diced Italian sausage, and 2 peeled, finely sliced, pears. Brown 100g butter in a pan, then add all the ingredients and stir until you get uniform dough. Stuff the turkey and sew with string. Put the turkey in a roasting tray with high edges with 150g butter and half a glass of olive oil. Start cooking at high mid temperature until it browns, continue for 90 minutes at a lower temperature; making sure the bird and stuffing is thoroughly cooked through. Baste the turkey with its juices throughout to keep moist. 

Mila Tarin’s favourite seasonal dish is her mother’s Truffle Christmas Chicken. Take one 2kg chicken and wash inside and out. Take ½kg of minced beef, ½kg of minced pork, ¼kg minced Jamón Ibérico (Spanish Iberian ham), a handful of breadcrumbs, about 30g of chopped, preserved black truffles and six eggs and mix together. Stuff the chicken with the mixture and sew with string. Heat some extra virgin oil in a deep roasting tray (big enough for the chicken) on the stove top. Add 1 medium peeled onion, one peeled bulb of garlic and a ripe whole tomato. Add the chicken and ensure that everything is golden and nicely coloured. Add a glass of good red wine and cover the bird with water. Simmer on a slow heat until have the stock has evaporated. Remove the chicken from the pan and mash the softened onion and tomato and juice, making chunky gravy. Place the chicken in a medium oven and cook until crispy. Serve topped with gravy. 

Closer to home Sunday teas have never been more delicious than those we share with my Mother-in-law. The recipe is also so incredibly quick you can literally whip up a lovely and simple stuffing in minutes. Patricia Donovan’s uncooked recipe from Wigan is gorgeous eaten cold in sandwiches. Take I large, roughly chopped onion, put in a pan, cover with water, and boil until soft. Drain off most of the water, leaving a little in the pan. Add 3 slices of torn thick white bread (crusts removed) and a large teaspoon of dried sage, a knob of butter and salt and white pepper. Chop all ingredients together roughly (do not mash) and serve alongside your bird. This has to be the quickest stuffing recipe ever- ideal for any Hectic Host.

This article appears in the December issues of SE Magazines.


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