Turkey With Celery Sauce

This magnificent stuffed turkey would once have formed the centrepiece on a Victorian sideboard, flanked by a boiled ham, tongue or pickled pork. The celery sauce is a traditional accompaniment, although an oyster stuffing and sauce were sometimes served in the days when oysters were cheaper and less of a luxury than today.


175 g (6 oz) back bacon rashers, rinded and minced
2 medium onions, skinned and finely chopped
100 g (4 oz) lean veal, minced
175 g (6 oz) fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
100 g (4 oz) mushrooms, chopped
30 ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper
1 egg
a little milk, if necessary
1 oven-ready turkey, weighing about 2.7 kg (6 lb), thawed if frozen
1 head of celery, sliced
568 ml (1 pint) chicken stock
1 bouquet garni
30 ml (2 tbsp) cornflour
45 ml (3 tbsp) fresh single cream


1. To make the stuffing, dry fry the bacon in a large heavy-based frying pan until the fat starts to run. Add half of the chopped onion and cook gently for about
5 minutes, until softened, stirring. Add the veal, breadcrumbs, mushrooms and parsley and mix together thoroughly. Season to taste and bind together with the egg, adding a little milk if the mixture is too stiff.

2. Stuff the neck end of the turkey with the stuffing. Cover the stuffing with the neck skin. Truss the turkey with the wings folded under the body and the legs tied together.

3. Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time, allowing 20 minutes per 450 g (1 lb) plus 20 minutes. Place in a roasting tin, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Roast at 180°C (350°F) mark 4, basting occasionally. Put a piece of foil over the bird if it shows signs of becoming too brown.

5. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the celery, remaining onion, stock and bouquet garni in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer gently for 45 minutes, until really tender. Cool slightly, remove the bouquet garni, and puree in a blender or food processor. Return to the pan.

6. Blend the cornflour to a paste with a little water and stir into the puree. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Stir in the cream and season to taste.

7. When the turkey is cooked, gently reheat the celery sauce but do not boil or it will curdle.

Serve the carved turkey with the sauce handed separately.


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