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Talking Turkey

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By Diana Earnshaw, Volunteer Contributor

Turkey imageChristmas means turkey for many people – although it has only been “traditional” for the last several hundred years. According to Wikipedia, Henry VIII was the first monarch to request turkey on the Christmas table. Up until that time, boar, goose (which was still popular during Victorian times) and other game birds were traditional fare.

Wild meat is always going to be the most nutritious – which one of the reasons why we choose organic. Birds/animals are fed a diet which is as close as possible to their natural diet and they have access to the outside during daytime so that they can forage grubs and seeds for themselves.

Turkey contains several of the B vitamins, but the liver needs to be eaten for the B12! (Chop it up in the stuffing maybe.) Minerals – there are good levels of phosphorous and zinc and rather less of iron, magnesium and potassium.  Of course, turkey is high in lean protein. In fact, for the protein to be metabolised efficiently, fat must be added. If you don’t like fat very much, have cream on your Christmas pudding! Fat is essential for the absorption of minerals too.

This Brining recipe is the one I have used since Nigella Lawson’s Christmas book was published in 2008! It works. It also solves the problem of what to do with the turkey until Christmas day. It will be quite happy sitting in its spicy marinade for a couple of days! Thanks Nigella!

Brining Nigella imageFor me the only turkey is a brined one. Not only does it tenderise and add subtle spiciness, but it makes carving the turkey incredibly much easier. You have only to try this method to be utterly convinced. And I mean to say: how hard is it to fill a pan or large plastic bin or bucket with water and spices and lower a turkey into it? At this time of year, it’s fine just to leave it in a cold place. I sit mine by an open window in the kitchen. It means everyone freezes, but who am I going to put first – my turkey or my family? Out in the garden if you’re lucky enough to have one would also be fine, though the pan must be securely covered: if I’ve got a bucket or bin out in the open, I cover it twice with foil and then put my son’s skateboard on top to prevent foxy foraging.

And, though you might find it hard to believe sight unseen, a raw turkey covered in brine – with its oranges, cinnamon sticks, and scattering of spices – looks so beautiful as it steeps that I can never help lifting the lid for quick, blissfully reassuring peeks.

Nigella Lawson


Also try Diana's Turkey Soup