Tom Parker Bowles considers Christmas and shares his turkey hash recipe
PUBLISHED: 14:12 20 December 2013 | UPDATED: 14:12 20 December 2013
Bah, humbug! Or perhaps that should be pantomime-style booing for dried up and tasteless meat, as Tom Parker-Bowles considers Christmas Day lunch
Stuff turkey. Seriously, it’s the great gobbling yuletide bore, a bird we all love so much that we eat it just once a year. Every Christmas, I launch into the same splenetic rant on the general ghastliness of the festive feast - acres of bone dry, dreary white flesh; stodgy, charmless pudding. And mince pies. Thousands of the damned things.
And up until a few years ago, there was simply no escape. “But it’s traditional”, my family would plead, as I banged on about my disdain for this ridiculous beast. “And Christmas lunch just wouldn’t be the same without it.” Utter tosh, of course. We managed just fine for hundreds of years before this bland arriviste sailed in from America. Back in the days before the Victorians forced turkey upon us, we celebrated in true carnivorous style. You know, hog’s heads, peacocks and great barons of roasted beef. A proper banquet, and something really worth celebrating.
But then I took over the cooking of Christmas lunch, and things changed. Out went the turkey and in came vast ribs of beef, cooked pink and sliced tissue paper thin. One year, I roasted a couple of chickens, the next a great leg of lamb. All right, so the pudding was a non-negotiable of lunch on the 25th. And despite my protestations to the contrary, it wasn’t going anywhere. I just tried to ignore it as best I could.
The traditionalists, though, were less than happy. It wasn’t that they didn’t appreciate the alternatives, it’s just that Christmas, to them, had to involve turkey. So I relented. And went on the search for a bird that would make the taste buds whoop with delight, where the white meat seduced and the brown stuff astounded. And to be honest, it didn’t take too long.
There are Paul Kelly’s magnificent free range birds (www.kellyturkeys.co.uk), who can strut about to their hearts content, birds reared for serious flavour. And then the rather wonderful turkeys from Copas (www.copasturkeys.co.uk), also free range, with magnificent depth and a taste you won’t forget. Just like the beauties at Seldom Seen Farm (www.seldomseenfarm.co.uk). And if you can get hold of Reg Johnson’s corn fed stunners (available through www.albertmatthews.com) then prepare to be amazed. These are turkeys at their very finest.
Ok, so I’m still not convinced that even the very best turkey is anything comparable to the greatest chickens. And would far rather go for cow or sheep or pig over the puff-chested strutter. But Christmas is, I suppose, the season of goodwill. And if my family insist on turkey, then so be it. But it has to be a decent bird. As for the Christmas pudding? Well, it would take more than the massed choirs of angels to convince me to even take a bite. Many millions would disagree. But enough of the moaning. May your turkeys be stuffed full with flavour and good cheer. And a very happy Christmas to you all.
Turkey Hash - Serves 4
400 g cold turkey, roughly chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2-4 chillies (jalapeno good, or green finger chilli), finely chopped
4 cold roast potatoes, roughly smashed or 2 big, cooked floury potatoes, roughly mashed
4 rashers of streaky bacon, fried until crisp, then crumbled
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Handful of chopped parsley
Big pinch salt
Big jig tabasco
Lots of fresh black pepper
Walnut sized lump of butter
Glug of olive oil
4 soft poached eggs
Heat oil in frying pan over a medium heat and soften the onions and chillies, for about 10 minutes. Set aside and allow to cool.
In bowl, mix turkey, onion/chilli mix, potatoes, bacon, eggs, parsley, salt, Tabasco and pepper.
Form into 4 patties and fry in butter until crisp and golden.
Top with poached egg on top.
Tom’s latest book, Let’s Eat, is published by Pavilion.
Follow him on twitter @tomparkerbowles