The 12 Dishes of Christmas #5

Turkey Day

Last week we kicked off the Great British Community festival feast series; as that time of year rolls around, at GBC we are looking to celebrate how different traditions and faiths mark the season with festive food.

A photo of a full christmas dinner
A Turkey Dinner

Regardless of our religious beliefs, most of us still look forward to spending time with family and friends around Christmas time. As everyone gets time off, and everywhere is closed, we all do something a bit different on Christmas, even if you don’t celebrate it directly. And of course December celebrations such as Chanukah have their own culinary traditions.

This week its the main event and there’s 4 new recipes to make your celebration meal. With inspiration from all over the world, we think they represent modern British celebration and highlight how lucky we all are to have the food of the world on our doorsteps.

Give one of these recipes a try this weekend, or wait it out for a full menu. Why not try a different cuisine for each course to really give your meal an exciting difference?

Roast Turkey

Where would we be without a Christmas Turkey? In Britain, for many people, it is the only option for a festive feast, a classic, quintessential part of festive celebration. You might think this is part of a tradition as old as time, but in-fact turkey is a relatively modern addition to the Christmas proceedings. In medieval England wild boar or perhaps peacock were the traditional centrepieces for a Christmas feast, and it wasn’t until the 17th century that the turkey become a widespread staple of Christmas dinner. It is popularly believed the Henry VIII was the first monarch to have a turkey as his Christmas meat of choice, though the accuracy of this is up for debate.

The Turkey, as you would imagine, is not a key part of a traditional Christian celebration.

A photo of a roast turkey
Roast Turkey

But like many of the foods that we are covering, they have become traditional separately from the religious holiday they are in celebration of. Excepts to this are of course present in the oil-fried food of Chanukah, and the food symbolism in Chinese celebration. The interfaith and intercultural symbol of turkey at christmas is an example of how culinary tradition can create a sense of inclusion for people over celebrations. Regardless of whether they engage with the full religious or cultural nature of it.


1 turkey breast crown (a wingless, legless turkey)
50g/2oz butter
salt and pepper
about 10 rashers streaky bacon

Preparation method

1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.
2. Rub the butter all over the bird and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Then lay the bacon rashers over the bird, more or less covering it completely. The job of the bacon is twofold: to help keep the breast basted without you having to open (and therefore cool) the oven every ten minutes; and to buy you time, so the skin doesn’t burn before the breast is cooked through.
3. Place the bird in a roasting tray in the centre of the oven. Cook on this high heat for 25-30 minutes until the bacon is almost burnt.
4. Remove the bacon from the breast of the bird and put on one side. Baste the breast of the bird with the fat and juices in the pan and return to the oven. Turn down the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and continue to cook for about 12 minutes per 1kg/2¼lb, protecting the skin with buttered foil only if it seems to need it. Cook until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the breast is pierced with a skewer and the skin is brown and crispy. Cooked like this even a big bird (say 6-7kg/13½-15¾lb legless weight) shouldn’t take more than 1½-2 hours in total.
5. Serve slices of roast turkey breast and spoonfuls of the leg meat in their rich gravy, with all the usual trimmings: roast potatoes, bread sauce, steamed sprouts, chipolatas wrapped in bacon and stuffing.

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