At this time of year, it’s standard doings to reflect on achievements passed, opportunities missed, hopes for the future and general mopey naval-gazing quandaries of self. At the changeover of previous years, I may well have lamented my lack of contribution to the world. I changed nothing, challenged no-one and barely gave anything of myself. Not so this year.
This year, as we bumble into 2012, glass of Berocca in one hand, last of the Christmas cake in the other, I can hold my head high and say yes, YES, I made a contribution. For this year, dear friends, I invented the Christmas dinner kebab.
Every few months, some of my closest friends (known collectively as the Midlanders) and my husband and I meet up at one of our houses for loads of food, drink and (generally 90s) music. Previous themes have included casino night (all those blinis… I got RSI from dolloping cream cheese), American night, curry and poker, 80s and so on. This December, the theme was rat pack Christmas. The rat pack part was fairly easy, Italian meats, cheeses, 1960s inspired cocktails, some Kent versions of Philly cheese steaks and so on. But we were missing the Christmas part. And then, the morning before during school run I had an idea… and it was to change the course of history forever. (Not really).
Ingredients (to make enough for four people to have as part of a buffet):
Two large skinless turkey breasts
One large parsnip or two tiddlers
One tablespoon cranberry sauce
Four Parma ham slices
Salt and pepper
One pack very firm stuffing (not the very nice but very crumbly stuff that was everywhere this year) or homemade chestnut stuffing.
(Optional: My friend Kate recreated these kebabs and had the genius idea to add sprouts, I think she par-cooked them. As I didn’t do it, I’ll not mention them in the method).
Try to chop the parsnips into fairly regular sizes so they cook consistently. Par-cook for about four minutes, just enough that they’ve softened but are still relatively firm. Allow to cool so you can handle.
Set some wooden kebab skewers to soak (this prevents them burning).
Meanwhile, use a pastry brush to coat each turkey breast with cranberry sauce and then carefully wrap two Parma ham slices on each breast so they’re completely covered with ham.
Make sure the stuffing is in tight balls of around the same size as the parsnip chunks.
Very carefully cut the Parma-wrapped turkey into chunks of equivalence to the parsnip and stuffing balls.
You’re now ready to assemble Christmas dinner on a stick. Are you excited?!
Very carefully start to thread the ingredients onto a kebab skewer. I found it helpful to divide up each ingredient and set aside enough for each skewer so I didn’t end up with a couple at the end with all-turkey or whathaveyou.
I tried to make sure the kebab started and ended on a parsnip as they were less temperamental than turkey or stuffing. Getting the stuffing balls to stay intact was a challenge, but I just about managed it.
You can then leave the kebabs pre-prepared until you’re ready to cook them later that day, or do it now. I found they were done in around 20 minutes at 180 deg C but as it depends largely on the size of the chunks, you’ll need to keep testing to check the parsnips are soft through and the turkey’s juices run clear, if indeed there are any juices. If you’re really unsure, you can always cut open one of the turkey chunks to check there’s no pink meat.
My work here is done.