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A little help from the experts with festive dining

A little help from the experts with festive dining

This Christmas treat your loved ones to a five-star dining experience with delicious recipes from The Europe Hotel & Resort.

This year, the culinary team at The Europe, headed up by Executive Head Chef Alex Nahke, want to help make Christmas special for everyone and have created luxurious recipes for two of the season’s favoured foods – the perfect Christmas turkey and classic mince pies.

With some tips and tricks to perfecting your turkey, it’s sure to be the star of the Christmas table.

Christmas Turkey

“First things first, you need to decide what size turkey to buy. The below guide gives you an idea based on numbers, although this year we are likely to be opting for smaller turkeys than usual”, head chef Alex Nahke explains.

• 2-2.5kg serves 4-6

•3kg serves 6-7

• 3.5kg serves 7-8

• 4-4.5kg serves 8-10

• 5-5.5kg serves 10-12

• 6-6.5kg serves 12-15

Some important things to consider before you get started.

1. Make sure your turkey is going to fit into your oven

2. You’re going to need a roasting tin that’s big enough for the bird with room to spare, and deep enough to catch all the fat and cooking juices.

3. Make a note of the weight of your bird, knowing the exact weight will ensure the cooking time is correct, and thus avoid an overcooked and dry bird, or an undercooked one.

4. Get your timings right. And don’t forget to leave time for your turkey to rest when it comes out of the oven. Turkeys between 4-6kg should be rested for 1½ hours, and ones from 6-10kg can rest for two hours.

Cooking Temperature and Timing Guide

Heat your oven to 180°C/gas 4 4-5kg – cook 2¼ to 2½ hours 5-6kg – cook 2½ to 3 hours 6-7kg – cook 3 hours to 3½ hours 7-8kg – cook 3½ to 4 hours 8-9kg – cook 4 to 4¼ hours 9-10kg – cook 4¼ to 4½ hours

Or 20 minutes per lbs +20 minutes safety- this is a rough guide

5. Get your turkey out of the fridge at least 30 minutes to 1 h before you cook it. You’ll get less shrinkage when it goes into a hot oven.

6. Always preheat your oven before cooking your turkey.

7. Place a trivet of Root Vegetables, like parsnip, carrots and onions in the bottom of the tray to help make a gravy with all the juices.

8. Slightly season the Turkey Sea Salt & Black Pepper, cover the turkey loosely with foil, but remove it just under an hour before the timing is up to get the turkey nicely browned.

9. Roast your bird for the calculated time, or until the juices run clear from the thigh if you pierce it with a knife or a skewer. The safest way is to buy a temperate probe and use it to penetrate the thigh – if it has a temperature of 70C for 2 min that is perfect and safe.

10. Once cooked, carefully lift the turkey out of the tray and rest on a board. Cover loosely with foil for at least an hour while you get on cooking your roast potatoes.

Chef’s tips:

• No need to wash a turkey before roasting!! You spread bacteria around your kitchen sink, which is a common mistake people make.

• The safest way of cooking the stuffing is NOT stuffing the turkey with it. Turkey can contain high levels of bacteria. In order to kill all bacteria you need to reach a core temperature of 75C instantaneously or equivalent, e.g. 70°C for two minutes in the stuffing, so you have your Turkey completely overcooked by the time this temperature is reached in the stuffing.

• Use some of the cooked turkey juices for your stuffing to add the necessary flavour

• If you get your butcher to take of the legs for you and bone & roll them, then you are left with the crown and that might fit better in the oven! It also cooks faster and you will have a cleaner way of serving the turkey.

• The boned & rolled legs you can cook like your normal Sunday roast and serve 1 slice with each plate.

The Europe Mince Pies

The perfect festive treat, dessert or mid-day pick-me-up, mince pies are a classic for a reason! Fragrant seasonal spices, a crumbly crust and a sticky sweet filling – this tried and tested recipe is sure to get the seal of approval this Christmas.

Makes 24 mince pies

Ingredients:

For the pastry cases:

• 250g plain flour, plus extra to dust

• 25g icing sugar

• 125g chilled unsalted butter, diced finely

• grated zest of 1 orange

• 1 medium egg, lightly beaten

• 1–3 tsp ice-cold water (if needed)

To finish:

• 1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tsp water (eggwash)

• to glaze icing sugar or caster sugar, to dust

For the Filling:

• 450g Plums, halved and stoned

• 1/2 Lemons, zest & Juice

• 30ml water- not needed if plums are frozen

• 2 lg Cooking apples

• 35g Currants

• 35g Raisins

• 35g sultanas

• 35 g mixed Peel

• 35 nibbed almonds

• 120 g sugar

• 1.5 g ground ginger

• 1.5 g ground cinnamon

See Also

• 1.5 g ground cloves

• Good dash of Brandy if liked

Method

• Cook plums with Lemon & Water until tender, and solid consistency

• liquidise

• Peel & grate apples and add to the plum mix

• Add all other ingredients including lemon zest & Brandy

• Cool down before filling into the tartlets

Method

• For the pastry, put the flour, icing sugar, butter and orange zest into a food processor and whizz to fine crumbs. With the motor running, add the egg and whizz for a few seconds

until the mixture forms clumps and you can press it together into a ball. (If necessary, add 1–3 tsp ice-cold water to bring the dough together.)

• Turn onto a very lightly floured surface and knead briefly until smooth. Wrap in cling film and chill for at least 30 minutes, or until firm. (The pastry can be made up to 3 days ahead or frozen for up to a month.)

• Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to the thickness of 4mm. Using an 8cm fluted cutter, cut out 24 rounds and use to line two 12-hole non-stick mince pie tins.

• Option 1:Re-roll the trimmings to the same thickness and stamp out 24 stars or Christmas trees, with an appropriate cutter, for the tops.

• Option 2: Shortcrust topping

• 250g unsalted Butter

• 110g caster sugar

• 360g plain flour

• 4 g salt

• 2 g vanilla extract

• Whip the soft butter with caster sugar and vanilla extract, when white & fluffy fold in the flour and salt

• Keep whipping it until you have a soft dough you can pipe onto the filled tartlets

• Bake with the filling for 20-25min at 160C

• Put a dessert spoonful (2 tsp) filling into each pastry case, then press the tops in position. Chill for at least 20 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.

• Brush the tops with the eggwash, then bake the mince pies for 15–20 minutes until the pastry is golden and crisp. Let cool for a few minutes before removing from the tins and transferring to a wire rack to cool. Store an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. Warm slightly before serving, with a dusting of sugar.

This Christmas, give the gift of a luxury escape, with a voucher for The Europe Hotel & Resort. From its unrivalled setting to luxury amenities and five star service, The Europe offers a variety of beautiful experiences in the heart of the Kingdom.

With gift cards available from €50, treat someone special to a relaxing stay, a spa treatment or a beautiful dining experience at the multi-award winning five star Europe Hotel & Resort.

For more information visit www.theeurope.com

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