Surprise! Easy Turkey to Impress – Renee G

Christmas can be a stressful time for a whole range of reasons – the cost of gifts, feeling like you don’t have enough time to do everything, and then add in family tensions to a volatile mix. The joy of Christmas can quickly evaporate, leaving you wondering what on earth the whole point of the occasion was.

With all the expectations that are associated with Christmas, it can end up being a period of great stress.  If that isn’t bad enough, Christmas comes at the end of the year when people often are tired and grumpy.  It is also a time when people reflect on their year.  However, a 2010 study[1] found that while the chance of dying does slightly increase on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, it is not due to suicide.  These increases in deaths occur due to overindulgence or natural causes that are exacerbated by people taking longer to get treatment.

So if you do feel stressed about Christmas, what can you do about it?  Beyond Blue recommends talking to someone, as does Lifeline.  Another simple recommendation is to remember that Christmas is not a contest.

You don’t have to buy the most expensive gift, nor do you have to make Pinterest worthy crafts.  As I discussed in my last post, we don’t really do gifts at all in our family, preferring to spend the money on an adventure.

Want. Need. Wear. Read.
Want. Need. Wear. Read.

The point is: don’t stress, do what makes you relaxed.  Every present doesn’t have to be perfect and if you can’t think of anything, take that person out for coffee.  They’ll appreciate the time you give them more than anything.  Or if you have no time, give them something easy.

Whatever works for your family.  Do that.

One thing I really enjoy about Christmas is having guests over.  I love cooking for people.  If that isn’t your thing and the idea of surprise guests at short notice sounds stressful, this recipe might just be the one for you.  It is a simple Christmas dinner that will feed six people while making you look superbly organized and will taste great.

This recipe sounds complicated – it is a Donna Hay recipe with some alterations to make it easier.  I have broken it down into steps so that it is more manageable than the original and this means that it is a great recipe to do with guests.  There are four basic stages, and in between each stage is waiting, ie socializing (drinking) time.

Merry Christmas.

Summer Christmas Turkey Dinner

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: med
  • Print

Stage One – one hour

Rush off to the shops and get the ingredients.

Shopping list
  • 6 Turkey Legs


  • 1 litre water
  • Bunch of sage
  • ¼ cup Salt
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • Spoon of peppercorns
  • 1 litre buttermilk

Sage Butter

  • 150g of butter
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Handful Sage Leaves
  • Cracked pepper


  • 600ml water
  • Handful of Dried Cranberries
  • 1 spoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce

Champagne Spuds

  • 2kg potatoes
  • 1/3 bottle champagne
  • Olive oil
  • Garlic Salt


  • Dutch (baby) carrots
  • Salad leaf mix
  • Pumpkin and sesame seeds

Brine for the turkey
Brine for the turkey

Stage Two – two hours

Make the brine.  Put the water, sage, salt, sugar, garlic, peppercorns into a pot (that’s everything except the buttermilk) and bring to the boil.  Once everything is dissolved, pour into a wide dish and let it cool down.  Since you are in a rush, shove the whole dish into the fridge.

When it’s cool, add the buttermilk and stir the whole brine.  Add the turkey legs, cover and put back in the fridge for two hours.

Cut the potatoes into wedges and boil.  Let them simmer until they are just soft.  Drain the water and place in a roasting dish.  Scatter the Dutch carrots over the top.  Pour champagne over the whole thing.  Add some olive oil across the top.  Sprinkle with garlic salt to taste.  Put in the oven at 180oC.

Relax for two hours.  Have a drink (or few) with your guests.

Applying sage butter to the skin
Applying sage butter to the skin

Stage Three – one hour

Soften the butter in the microwave.  Finely chop the garlic and sage and mix everything together to make the sage butter.

Discard the brine.  Using your finger loosen the skin off each turkey leg.  Stuff the skin with sage butter, so it sits between the skin and the meat.

Put a roasting dish (or large pan that can go in the oven) onto the stovetop on a high heat. Add a splash of olive oil, and fry each turkey leg to brown the skin.  Add onions if you like roasted onions (optional).

Once the skin is golden brown, add a pint of water (600ml), and simmer.  Place in the oven for 40 minutes and relax.

Stage Four – 15 mins

When the turkey is cooked through, pour the remaining liquid into a pot.  Let the turkey rest near the oven so it stays warm.  Boil the liquid and add a handful of cranberries, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste and whisk together.  Boil vigorously while you put the meal together to reduce it (about 10 minutes).

On a side plate, arrange the salad leaves and sprinkle with seeds.  Remove the carrots from the roasting dish and scatter over the leaves.  Add feta and pesto.

Place the champagne potatoes on the serving platter.

Arrange the turkey legs on a serving plate and pour the sauce over the top.


The turkey feast
The turkey feast
Blueberry custard with a side of kids
Blueberry custard with a side of kids

Custard Dessert

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print

Dessert – 5 mins

  • Store bought custard – 600ml (approx. 100ml per person)
  • Jam – a teaspoon per person
  • Honey – a teaspoon per person
  • Soda water – 2 teaspoons
  • Fruit – 10 blueberries per person

Mix the jam, honey and soda water (or normal water) together with a fork.

Dish out the custard into bowls.

Use a spoon to swirl the jam mixture across the top of the custard

Top with fruit (we used blueberries)

#1 rated this dessert 20/10.  #2 said “100/100, but did you know that that is the same as 10/10”.  Yip, true.

[1] Phillips D1, Barker GE, Brewer KM(2010). Christmas and New Year as risk factors for death. Soc Sci Med. 2010 Oct;71(8):1463-71. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.07.024. Epub 2010 Aug 5


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