To follow our Christmas lunch for under £5 per head, here is what you need to do on Christmas Eve
Warm Potato Blinis with Smoked Salmon, Crème Fraîche and Dill
These have been adapted from the Russian version, so there are no special ingredients needed. Potato makes them lighter and has a wonderful affinity with smoked salmon.
350g (12oz) Desiree potatoes, peeled
3 medium eggs, separated
75ml (3fl oz) milk
50g (2oz) self-raising flour
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
200g (7oz) sliced smoked salmon (use a value pack but not trimmings)
300ml tub crème fraîche
1 bunch dill
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
Your will need a steamer and a whisk, preferably electric, and a large frying pan.
The blinis can be made a day ahead, to start cut the potatoes into chunks and put them into a steamer fitted over a pan of boiling water, sprinkle with a little salt, put a lid on and steam the potatoes until they are absolutely tender.
Next put the cooked potatoes into a largish bowl and use an electric whisk (or a fork) to mash them, then add the egg yolks to the milk and pour it over the mashed potato followed by the flour, nutmeg and seasoning and whisk the ingredients together to make a smooth, thick batter.
Now thoroughly clean and dry the beaters and whisk the egg whites in a scrupulously clean bowl until they form soft but not stiff peeks. Then carefully fold the egg whites into the batter about a third at a time.
Heat the frying pan over a medium heat then turn the heat down quite low. Put a little groundnut oil in the pan and use a wodge of kitchen paper towel to smear it round the pan.
Start by making one blini using a slightly rounded tablespoonful of the batter. Let it cook for 2 ½ minutes before carefully flipping it over with a palette knife or an egg slice and let it cook for a further 2 ½ minutes. The blini should be golden brown on either side, if it looks a little dark adjust the heat down a little. Lift the blini onto a cooling rack. Then smear a little more oil in the pan and if your feeling ready you could try making 2 – 3 blinis at a time until you have 12.
Once the blinis are cold overlap them on a small baking tray then cover them with foil and store them in the fridge.
The traditional stuffing for turkey, it can be made in advance ready for the big day.
450g (1lb) sausagemeat
15g (¾oz) chopped fresh sage
1 medium onion, finely chopped
40g (1 ½oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon plain flour
Make up the stuffing by mixing the sausagemeat, sage, onion and breadcrumbs with some seasoning, and divide it into twelve even-sized pieces. After that dust your hands lightly with the flour and, using the palms of your hands, shape them into balls. Place them onto a tray lined with clingfilm, cover and store in the fridge.
200g (7 oz) fresh chestnuts
Take the chestnuts and use the tip of a small sharp knife to score a cross into the skin on the flat side. Then place them (scored side uppermost) on a baking tray and roast them for 25 minutes. When they are ready the cross will have peeled open slightly exposing the flesh of the chestnut.
Now using a cloth to protect your hands gently squeeze one of the chestnuts and then peel away the shell and any brown skin and repeat until that are all peeled. (If they start to get cold and become tricky to peel, pop them back in the oven for a few minutes. Leave the peeled chestnuts to cool and store in a lidded container in the fridge, ready to sauté on Christmas day.
Braised Turkey Drumsticks with Port
Turkey drumsticks are huge and two of them are enough for six people. What makes this recipe so good is that the slow braising of the meat closest to the bone gives a superb flavour. Adding bacon rolls and stuffing means all the traditional flavours are there as well. In the recipe I have allowed for this to be made the day before, to give you less stress on Christmas Day (I also think the flavour improves!)
2 turkey drumsticks (weighing about 700g – 800g each)
1 tablespoon groundnut oil
1 tablespoon butter
12 rashers smoked streaky bacon each one rolled up tightly and threaded on to 2 skewers
450g (1lb) shallots, peeled
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
300ml (½pt) red wine
50ml (2fl oz) port
250ml (9fl oz) stock made from Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon powder
2 bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme and 1 dessertspoon chopped
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour mixed with 1 heaped tablespoon butter
salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g jar Cranberry sauce
Pre-heat the oven to 140°C, gas mark 1
You will need a large, lidded heavy based casserole with a capacity of 3.45 litres (5pts).
First melt half the butter and the oil in the casserole. While that’s heating wipe the turkey drumsticks as dry as possible with kitchen paper and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. When the butter begins to sizzle, place the drumsticks in the hot fat then, with the heat at medium, brown them, using a spoon and fork to turn them until they are all golden-brown which will take about 10 minutes.
After that remove the turkey drumsticks to a large dish then brown the shallots in the same pan then remove them to join the drumsticks. Finally add the garlic to the pan, which will need about 1 minute, tossing it around to colour.
Next return the turkey to the casserole and add the wine, port, stock, bay leaves, thyme sprigs and chopped thyme. Bring it up to simmering point, then put the lid on and cook for in the centre of the oven for 1 hour.
After that turn the drumsticks over and add the shallots, cover and return to the oven for another hour. Then remove the turkey drumsticks and shallots to a clean dish and discard the bay leaves and thyme.
Then over a medium heat add the butter-and-flour in small ½ teaspoon-sized lumps to the sauce, and whisk until it comes back to simmering point and thickens. When the turkey is cool enough to handle pull away and discard all of the skin (which has now yielded up all its wonderful flavour) then carefully ease the meat away from the bone keeping it in large chunky pieces. As you do this, remove any of the fine bones and pieces of cartilage and discard them too.
Put the turkey and shallots back into the sauce, and when it has completely cooled, put the lid on and keep it in a fridge – if you have space. Alternatively keep it in a cool shed, garage or the boot of the car or else decant it into a plastic container which might fit the fridge more easily.