Tag Archives: Jamie Oliver

The only way to eat turkey at Christmas

28 Dec

Turkey wellingtonChristmas Dinner is not one of my favourite meals of the year. The combination of a roast dinner (never understood the fuss) and turkey (the most boring of birds) always leaves me cold. It’s a traditional, and for that I endure it, but I’ve gone through a few years of trying anything I can to make the meal more special – particularly trying different meats (goose and duck have all graced the plate recently, although the curse of the Christmas duck has resulted in a broken oven on two occasions).

However, last year I had a revelation and it came in the form of Jamie Oliver’s turkey wellington. It was so good that I didn’t even consider something different in 2012.

What makes it so special? It’s a real presentation piece, with the puff pastry rising to create something that would grace the centre of any table as a piece of art. The meat inside is moist and packed with flavour. When was the last time you heard that about a piece of turkey? The mushroom stuffing, which is slightly misnamed because it coats the bird rather than filling it, is wonderful.

A little goes a long way as well. A 1kg turkey breast easily fed a family of five and there was enough left over to form a substantial part of a Boxing Day buffet. And unlike most Christmas leftovers, this had guests lining up to try it.

If you are reading this in December 2013, wondering what you can do to make Christmas dinner a treat rather than a trial, then look no further.

A recipe is only as good as the ingredients and the klutz who is making it

3 Feb
Venison and mushroom stroganoff

This venison is not so tough...it's hiding behind the rice

Mrs G had, as usual, done most of the menu planning this week and was determined to use up some diced venison which we had in the freezer. Venison stroganoff was the recipe that had caught her eye, but by yesterday evening the location of said recipe had slipped her mind.

The beauty of the 21st century is that we can now have access to millions of recipes at the touch of a button and googling ‘venison stroganoff’ turned up a Jamie Oliver recipe as the number one result.

Unlike some I don’t indulge in reverse snobbery with Jamie. I’ve always liked his programmes, forgive him for his mockney accent, and even forgive him for the Jamie’s Italian restaurant chain. The only thing I don’t forgive him for is parking his 4×4 on the double yellow line outside my office when one of his companies rented space in an adjacent building.

So I was optimistic about the stroganoff.

This was a fun dish to cook. The ingredients just seemed to make sense. I even went down the route of lighting the brandy which crackled and popped in the pan for a good two minutes while I struggled to find my camera to take a photo. I failed by the way, so you will have to imagine the excitement.

What let it down was the quality of the venison. One of the trickier parts of the recipe was the delicate balancing act that Jamie seemed to suggest you had to play between undercooking the meat and hence giving yourself a dose of food poisoning and over cooking it and making it tough.

I’m afraid that I fell into the trap of over cooking and that combined with the sense that the venison was not quite top notch, produced a slightly unsatisfactory result. The sauce was delicious, but the overall result was not.

I will definitely try this dish again, but I’ll substitute the venison for beef, chicken, even ethical veal.

Would the original recipe have made any difference? I doubt it. It shows that a dish is only as good as the ingredients that go into it and the klutz standing over the stove.