A few weeks ago, I appeared on ITV This Morning sharing my ideas for a more flexible festive season. Everything I made could be divided into portions, including the turkey! To watch the full piece, which aired live on the programme with Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes, click on the link here – or read the tips and recipes below.
Making individual portions is a great way to avoid waste. Only take out what you need when you need it – great if numbers change, or if you need to isolate or shield.
Roast Turkey for Two
Look out for turkey breast mini fillets. You’ll find them in most supermarkets and they are great value – I paid £3.50 for two from M&S. They are just the right size for making roast turkey for two – with leftovers for sandwiches or salads too.
- 2 x 190g turkey breast mini fillets (Smaller breast fillets can be made into turkey for one.)
- 1-2 tsp sunflower or vegetable oil
- 5 rashers streaky bacon, smoked or unsmoked
- 1 good quality herby sausage
- 1 thinnish slice fresh orange, quartered, or 2 slices clementine, halved (optional)
- coarsely ground black pepper
- Flatten the mini fillets with a rolling pin until around 1.5cm thick – cover with cling film or baking paper and the rolling pin won’t stick. Brush with a little sunflower oil – this will help stop the bacon making the turkey meat slightly pink. They will end up in roughly heart shapes.
- Stretch four rashers rindless streaky bacon until about half as long again and place side-by-side on a piece of non-stick baking paper, roughly 2-3cm apart (they need to be the length of your turkey fillet).
- Place one turkey fillet on top, smooth side facing the bacon (as this will be the top of your roast).
- Squeeze a herby sausage out of its skin and into the centre of the fillet.
- Cover with the second flattened fillet, then wrap in the bacon to make a neat parcel.
- Turn the turkey over and place another piece of bacon on top, down the centre, tucking in at the ends.
- Garnish with thinly sliced orange wedges and season with a little coarsely ground black pepper.
- Wrap first in the baking paper and then in kitchen foil. Freeze for up to 1 month. (If not freezing ahead, you can wrap and keep chilled for up to day before roasting.)
- Thaw thoroughly on a plate in the fridge overnight.
- Uncover the turkey and remove the foil. Place the parcel on the baking paper in a baking or roasting tin and cover loosely with the foil.
Bake at fan oven 180C/Gas 6 for 50-60 minutes, removing the foil after 30 minutes, or until fully cooked throughout.
Par-cooked potato chunks can be tossed in lots of sunflower oil or melted goose fat and seasoning, then cooled and frozen in a large freezer bag. Cook from frozen in a hot oven for 50-60 minutes. You can even freeze fully roasted potatoes to save even more time and oven space on the day. That way, they can be roasting while the turkey is resting.
- To par-cook them, put in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes then drain in a colander and return to the pan.
- Shake a bit to rough up the surfaces, then pour over 5-6 tbsp sunflower oil for 1.3kg peeled potatoes -adjust the quantity of oil according to how many potatoes you started off with. Season with a little salt and pepper – and some finely chopped rosemary if you like.
- Scatter over a baking tray and leave to cool. Open freeze for 2-3 hours or until solid then transfer to a bag or container and freeze for up to 1 month.
- Cook from frozen on a large baking tray – or around the turkey – for 50-60 minutes, turning once or twice. There is no need to add extra oil, but for extra, extra crispy potatoes, you could drop some small chunks of goose fat or dripping on top, then turn and baste with the oil a couple of times as they cook around every 15 minutes.
Home-made stuffing freezes brilliantly. Make a batch then use an ice cream scoop to place balls on a lined baking tray. Freeze until solid then put into a lidded container or bag. Cook from frozen, alongside your turkey or potatoes, for 20-25 minutes, or until fully cooked.
Brussels sprouts ready-to-go
Fill a lidded container with frozen Brussels sprouts, lightly fried bacon, chunks of cooked chestnut (from a packet) and a knob of butter. Cover and freeze. Twenty minutes before serving, take the butter out, then heat the rest from frozen in the microwave for around 8 minutes, stirring halfway through, until piping hot. Season with a little sea salt, a grind of black pepper, return the butter to the sprouts and toss together well.
Braised red cabbage
Braised red cabbage freezes very well. Flat-freeze in small zip-seal bags or lidded containers and thaw for 3-4 hours at room temperature before reheating.
Make up a batch with a pack of the fresh cranberries widely available in the supermarkets, adding sugar and grated orange zest to taste. Freeze in a silicone muffin tin, or cupcake cases. Transfer to a lidded container or freezer bag. Thaw what you need at room temperature and reheat gently in the microwave or on the hob before serving.
Bread sauce freezes beautifully, so whizz up a batch with the end of a loaf and flat-freeze in zip-seal bags to save space in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge overnight and add a little extra milk when you reheat.
Don’t forget dessert!
If you don’t fancy a traditional Christmas pud – freeze-ahead some fab desserts.
Black Forest Christmas puddings
Make mini chocolate fondant puddings in metal pudding basins and freeze before baking. Cook as many as you need from frozen for xx minutes. Turn out and serve with ready-made cherry compote, cream and chocolate flakes.
Chocolate profiteroles with chocolate sauce
Profiteroles are easy to make and can be filled with sweetened whipped cream, then frozen on a tray before transferring to a container. Thaw as many as you need in the fridge for a few hours. Dredge with icing sugar and serve with warm chocolate sauce. (You can find the recipe for these in my book Freeze.)
Mince pies and brandy butter
Stash a box or two of mince pies, some brandy butter and good vanilla ice cream in the freezer and you’ll never be short of a festive pud. Brandy butter stars can be frozen in a silicone mould, just pop out what you need.
To watch the full piece, which aired live on the programme with Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes, click on this link Freeze-ahead Christmas