Plenty of time for a rack of Christmas ham? Why buy at all?

BBC Food

The turkey cooking season is coming to an end, but it might be worth enduring another day or two of restorative warming.

While the butcher’s constant threats to start smothering this roasty, flaky meat in sweet juices are alluring, there are some things you’re sure to find once everything has been hung, cut and judged that can hold your attention for much longer.

After all, the turkey will be eaten pretty soon after you have embarked on this process of work, and with far more pleasure than most such vegetables, albeit not without some grubby consequences.

A tray of stuffing, whipped yoghurt and cider might satisfy a reasonable craving before lunch, but, as John Pawson told the FT’s Hayley Kirton, that lunch will likely be followed by an excess of quality British pork, from the home-grown shoulder on his path.

It is probably not a coincidence that the best shoulder meat, also called Bristol-breasted, comes from the south-east of England. Two years ago, turkey was named the world’s most over-rated meat, a survey of 25,000 people across 28 countries revealed, having to compete with salmon (second), chicken (third) and beef (fourth). More than one in five people had refused a turkey for dinner at some point.

So what is the secret of its appeal? In a word: flavour. The largest muscles in your turkey are (what else?) turkey necks. Once the central-ringed, shoulder of the bird is removed, this meat goes to the forelegs, or drumsticks. This is what cooks use to make the stuffing. A few more deft nibbles on the balls could also satisfy a three-course starter.

In this spirit, catch a stray drumstick in the debris of the stuffing tray, try a bite of the stuffing for you and add a few minced minced pieces to the mixing bowl. Three to four strips of beancurd work well (you should see any leftover) to fill in for some parsley. A few banana leaves or plums (beware, raspberries are not enough) work well for a summer pudding. Instead of the mince, place a tin of plum puree, a few finely chopped dates, a few halved sweet cherries and a few peas in your mixing bowl.

The rest of the mixture should be fat (because the turkey must be properly salted and seasoned before cooking), and you should pour in some good red wine (that way you will end up with the right tenderness), jam or perhaps some cider. This mixture, while also containing some dry ingredients such as onion powder, garlic powder, curry powder and paprika, will give it a good, vibrant colour. Once the turkey is cooked and the stuffing finished, remove it from the tray. Remove the turkey from the oven, and do the same with the stuffing, before removing it from the tray and putting it on a plate that is the size of your plate (unless you wish to make a miniature sandwich, which we will update later).

But wait! If you are a smoker, start the oven with a moist paper towel, or damp kitchen towel. To be on the safe side, or if you live close to a fire, you should do this this night before. If you use the dry kitchen towel, no particular pre-cooking time is needed. Just cover it tightly and give it a turn. Remember, even if you smoke for years, the food will still come off with the slightest tremble of the blade of the smoked pallet (you should get burned fingers, however much you cook and taste the food for flavour). The first time you cook turkey with the dried towel on will be the best of times, since it makes the overall cooking process quicker.

You should have a bit of the turkey to eat with a little leftover stuffing, or to hold in your pockets. Try to use fruit (well, you get what you wish for) or any piece of fruit that you can peel, cut or slice.

After all, all British meats live on sale, here at home and in your local supermarket.

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