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Turkey prepared by Chef Kurmar
Turkey prepared by Chef Kurmar

The unmistakable smell of turkey or ham being roasted is a common Christmas Day delight in households across the world where the birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated.

Supermarkets stock up these meats in anticipation of increased demand at Christmas and shoppers scramble to find the perfect size to suit either their budget or household.

The Sun turned to Fort Young's new Chef, Nitish Kumar for a few suggestions on how to prepare a turkey and ham with a flair and a few other ideas for the Christmas table.

Fresh out of India and with 10 years experience under his hat, Chef Kumar was chockfull of tips how to add zest to a special Christmas lunch.

Interestingly, he suggested that, as in some parts of Europe, the centerpiece meat this year could be duck de-boned, stuffed and rolled to create a roulade.

The stuffing is usually made of bread, apple, cinnamon and soft cheese. After it is stuffed, the roll is tied with thread, baked and sliced.

For best results, he recommends a cooking time of about 25 minutes on each side at a temperature of 160°C which will ensure a nice, crispy skin.

No basting is required since the cooking time is not long and the duck has plenty of fat of its own that will melt and keep it moist in the oven.

This delicious roulade can be served with mixed greens, caramelized sweet potatoes and a salad with a honey and lemon marinade.

And if you prefer to stick with the traditional turkey or ham  or both  Chef Kumar offered some useful tips that help make them even more tender and tasty.

He recommends brining; that is, immersing the ham or turkey in a solution of water, citrus juice salt and pepper before cooking to tenderize the meat and ensure that it is thoroughly seasoned.

He said brining before ensures that the finished dish has great texture and colour and also makes the skin crispy, just the way most persons like it.

Pineapple juice or passion fruit juice can be added to the brine for an extra zip of flavor.

Ideally, the meat should be brined overnight, he said, and when it is being roasted, he suggests basting both the turkey and ham every 20 – 25 minutes.

For turkey roasts in particular, he recommends using a stuffing of sweet potato and bread seasoned with thyme, brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon.

When it comes to glazing the turkey, Chef Kumar recommends using a maple sauce infused with ginger or a honey and ginger sauce.

A classic cranberry sauce infused with oregano or thyme will set the turkey off nicely, he said. Or, if you prefer a local touch, passion fruit sauce will do nicely.

To make the passion fruit sauce, Chef Kumar said the passion fruit juice should be cooked to a reduction. Sugar, cornstarch, chopped cilantro and parsley are all you need to flavor it.

When it comes to glazing a Christmas ham, the chef suggests maple, clove and thyme. Mustard can also be added for a spicy burst of flavour.

The ham can be served with a carrot puree and cassava roulade. A perfect accompaniment would be a green salad with a coconut vinaigrette.

For the coconut vinaigrette, he gave a quick recipe: for 100 milligrams of coconut cream, add five grams of chopped ginger and 20 grams of brown sugar.

To these, add half of a lemon, a stalk of fresh thyme and 50 milliliters of olive oil. Mix the ingredients together well and  voila!

As for the cassava, he said this is half-cooked then the inside is scooped out; then it is stuffed with vegetables and seasoned with salt and pepper; finally, it is grilled and sliced for serving.