I had some of my school friends over for a pre-Christmas dinner last weekend which was great fun - we had Christmas crackers containing whistles, that were numbered and sounded at a different pitch, and came with a songsheet so we attempted to play some Christmas carols, which was very funny.
I was planning to cook dinner for 9 people - my biggest dinner party ever, but now we have a new house there's a lot more room - but unfortunately one of my friends was ill so she and her husband didn't come. When I was planning the food though I knew I needed to cook something that would feed a lot of people (aside from one vegan, as I made something different) and wanted to do a turkey as it was Christmas. But I wasn't sure how big a turkey I needed to feed 8 people, and didn't want to faff around with all the side dishes. I also didn't want to cook the exact same thing they would all be eating about ten days later!
I had an idea for a turkey dish that would be a one-pot meal (with some easy side dishes), go quite a long way and also not cost as much as a whole turkey - turkey wellington. I had a look online to see if I could find a recipe and was immediately taken with this turkey, brie and cranberry wellington from BBC Good Food. Mine didn't turn out anywhere near as pretty as the picture and I wasn't convinced by the brie in the middle - rather than melt, it held its shape and took on a bit of a rubbery texture. I wonder if there is another cheese that work better in this, though brie is quite Christmassy. So if you decide to give it a go, let me know what you think! Overall it was a really nice dish, a change from roast turkey but still very Christmassy. You could make this at any time of year and you could also make smaller portions - maybe individual wellingtons- with chicken breasts.
I bought a large turkey breast from Ocado and cut a slit in the middle, into which I spooned some cranberry sauce and then an entire wedge of brie. You also need to preheat the oven to 180C.
I used ready-made puff pastry to save time. I did make my own stuffing from sausage meat, adding sage, onion and breadcrumbs. I found it easier to roll out the pastry and spread the stuffing over the centre of the pastry than to put the stuffing onto the turkey breast.
I also found it easier to cover the turkey breast with two pieces of puff pastry and join them around the sides by rolling over the edges, rather than trying to wrap it in one huge piece of pastry. I finished the pastry with an egg wash (a beaten egg, brushed over, to help it brown) and then covered with foil as it went into the oven, as I didn't want the pastry to cook too quickly. I followed the packet instructions for the turkey and I think in total it took about three hours to cook.
Here it is when it came out of the oven.
The wellington was easy to slice and you can see the cheese and cranberry in the middle. One thick slice was plenty per person; I served this with roast potatoes and a selection of vegetables, and of course gravy. The turkey breast I'd bought had been cured so it fell apart easily; the texture was likened by one of my friends to slow-cooked ham!
It made a great centrepiece for a pre-Christmas dinner and was suitably festive without being exactly the same as what my friends would be eating on December 25th, so I was really pleased with it.