A very Perry Christmas

Neil Perry
Family feast ... Roast turkey with a side of green beans and hazelnuts.
Family feast ... Roast turkey with a side of green beans and hazelnuts. Photo: William Meppem

The stuffing under the turkey breast does two things: it gives great flavour and helps keep the bird moist. I like to serve roast turkey with mustard fruits and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

As for the sides, feel free to do any vegetables you like; steamed zucchini and a tomato salad would be just as good and even simpler than the purée and beans.


extra virgin olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
8 cloves garlic, crushed
50g spinach, trimmed
400g fresh ricotta, drained
2 tbsp chopped thyme
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
180g raisins, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes and drained
150g unsalted butter, finely diced
2 eggs sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
7.6kg whole turkey (medium to large)
mustard fruits, to serve

Serves 10-12, with leftovers

Preheat the oven to 200°C

To make the stuffing, heat a little olive oil in a frying pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a low heat for about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Blanch the spinach in boiling salted water until just wilted, then drain and rinse under cold water. Squeeze the excess water from the spinach. Chop coarsely.

Combine the onion mixture with the spinach, ricotta, herbs, raisins and butter in a medium bowl. Add the eggs, season with salt and pepper and mix well.


Press the stuffing under the skin of the turkey on the breasts and legs, until it is firmly packed in. Rub the skin with plenty of olive oil and season the turkey inside and out.

Place the turkey in a large baking tray and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 150°C and cook the turkey for 4-5 hours or until cooked. (The best way to ensure the turkey is cooked through is with a meat thermometer. If the bird is larger, add 20-30 minutes for every 500g over 7.6kg. When cooked, the internal temperature of the breast should be 74°C and the legs 80°C.)

Reduce the oven temperature to 50°C, cover the turkey with foil and allow it to rest in the oven for about 20 minutes.

To serve remove the drumsticks, thighs and wings at the second joint. Slice the breasts into 1-2cm-thick slices, being careful not to rip the skin. Serve on a platter with green beans and hazelnuts with burnt butter (see recipes below) and mustard fruits on the side.

Hot tip: Get a meat thermometer. It truly is the simplest way to make sure the bird is cooked perfectly.


Pumpkin puree

600g peeled pumpkin, cut into 2-3cm dice
3 1/2 tsp sea salt
75g unsalted butter
1/2 brown onion, finely diced
freshly ground pepper

Serves 4-6

Place the pumpkin in a saucepan and add enough cold water to almost cover. Add 2 tsp sea salt and simmer gently for 20 minutes, or until the pumpkin is soft. Set aside.

Meanwhile, dice 50g butter and place it in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the onion and remaining salt and sauté for about 5 minutes or until the onion is very soft. Add the pumpkin and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Pass the mixture through a mouli or blend it in a food processor or blender. Finely dice the remaining butter and stir it into the purée until melted. Check the seasoning.


Boiled corn

4 cobs corn
50g butter, diced
2 tsp maple syrup
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Serves 4

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add enough salt so it tastes like seawater.

Boil the corn for 6-8 minutes or until cooked and drain.

In a small bowl, combine the butter and maple syrup and season with sea salt and pepper.

Sprinkle sea salt over the corn and serve it with the maple butter on the side.


500g green beans, topped and tailed
60g butter
40g roasted hazelnuts, skinned and lightly crushed
juice of 1/2 lemon
sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Serves 4-6

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Add enough salt so it tastes like seawater.

Blanch the beans for 7-8 minutes or until tender, then drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat until it begins to turn nut-brown. Add the beans, hazelnuts and lemon juice to the butter and toss well. Season with a pinch of salt and ground pepper and serve.


Summer pudding

Forget steamed Christmas pudding. Summer pudding is easy, and berries are in full swing.

2 punnets strawberries, quartered
3 punnets raspberries
3 punnets blueberries
200g caster sugar, plus extra
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 loaf fresh sliced white bread, crusts removed
double cream, to serve

Serves 4

Begin this recipe the day before.

Combine the berries (reserving a few raspberries and blueberries), 200g sugar and 3/4 cup water in a medium pan over a low heat. Stir gently (don't let it boil) until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer without stirring for 5 minutes or until the juices are released from the fruit.

Strain the juices from the fruit and set both aside.

Lightly butter a glass bowl (about 3-4 litre capacity), sprinkle with a little caster sugar and shake away the excess.

Cut half the bread slices into triangles, leaving the rest in squares.

Line the bowl with the triangular slices around the bottom, packing them firmly to cover the whole base. Line the sides of the bowl with the square slices, overlapping them slightly.

Place the fruit in the bowl and pour over enough juice to nearly cover the fruit, ensuring the juices seep though the bread.

Cover the top of the fruit with more overlapping triangular slices and pour over more juice to saturate the bread.

Place the bowl in a larger dish so as not to spill any juice, cover the pudding with a flat plate that fits perfectly on top and set a weight on top (such as a tin of tomatoes). Refrigerate overnight to allow the pudding to set.

To serve, unmould the pudding and serve it with double cream and reserved berries.

Source: This story originally ran in Good Weekend on  December 3, 2011.