Festive feasting

Sean Melville, executive head chef at Bedford Lodge Hotel's acclaimed Squires restaurant, shares a selection of elegant Christmas recipes 

Roast turkey with pork, apple and almond stuffing

Give your Christmas turkey a twist with this sumptuous recipe


6 thyme sprigs

1 onion, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 stick of celery, coarsely chopped

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp plain flour

150ml dry Marsala

500ml turkey stock

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly

4 tbsp rapeseed oil

Sea salt and black pepper

For the pork stuffing:

350g breadcrumbs, made from ciabatta bread

500g good quality sausage meat

8 Cox’s apples, 6 peeled and coarsely grated; 2 with the tops removed and cored

4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

100g chopped almonds

150g parmesan, finely grated

4 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

5 eggs, lightly beaten

100g butter, melted

Sea salt and black pepper

Step-by-Step Guide 

Preheat oven to 230°C/Gas Mark 8. Remove turkey giblets and reserve. Rinse the turkey inside and out and dry well.

For the stuffing, combine the breadcrumbs, sausage meat, apple, garlic, almonds, parmesan, chopped herbs, sea salt and black pepper. Stir in the eggs and half of the butter and bind together well.

Grease a loaf tin and line the bottom of it with baking paper. Loosely place some of the stuffing into the loaf tin, press down a little, then cover and place in fridge until ready. Take the remaining apples and cut the top off, one-third of the way down. Remove core and fill each apple with the remaining stuffing and replace the lid. Brush well with rapeseed oil or melted butter and place in the fridge.

Place two tablespoons of the stuffing into the small cavity (neck end) of the turkey, pull excess skin over stuffing and secure to underside of turkey with a wooden skewer. Place the turkey in a large roasting pan; fill the large cavity with lemon and thyme sprigs. Brush the turkey generously with rapeseed oil and season with sea salt and black pepper, and cover with foil.

To make the turkey stock, place the turkey giblets, chopped onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf in a heavy based saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Simmer for two hours, then strain. Cool and store in the fridge until needed (this can be done the night before).

Place the turkey in the pre-heated  oven and cook at this temperature for 30 minutes. Then, lower the oven temperature to 180°C/Gas Mark 4 and cook for approximately 30 minutes per kilo, basting every hour.

Meanwhile, cook the stuffing in the loaf tin for 40 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.

About 35 minutes before the end of cooking the turkey, remove the foil, drain off any of the excess fat and place the stuffed apples around the bird; cook them until golden brown.

When you are satisfied the turkey is properly cooked, transfer it to a platter and place the apples around it. Cover loosely with foil and leave to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

For the Marsala gravy, place the roasting pan over a medium heat, sprinkle over the flour, then gradually stir in the Marsala, followed by the turkey stock and bring to the boil. Strain the mixture through a sieve into a saucepan.

Add the redcurrant jelly and any juices that have collected on the platter. Stir over a medium heat until the mixture boils; simmer for 10 minutes and season with sea salt and black pepper.

Serve the turkey carved with slices of stuffing, stuffed apples and warm Marsala gravy.


Home-made turkey and sherry gravy 


Giblets from a golden turkey

1 onion, cut into quarters

2 carrots, cut into chunks

1 stick of celery, cut into chunks

1 fresh bay leaf

3 sprigs of parsley

1 sprig of thyme

5 black peppercorns

To finish the gravy

1 tsp redcurrant jelly

750ml of Golden turkey giblet stock

100ml sherry

2 tbsp of plain flour 

Step-by-step guide 

Preheat oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6. Wash the giblets in cold water, place in a large pan with 1.5 litres of cold water. Bring to the boil and remove any scum off the top of the water. Then add the rest of the ingredients, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Uncover the pan and simmer for a further 20 to 30 minutes or until the stock has reduced by half. Remove from the heat and strain into a bowl, leave to cool, cover and place in the fridge or use immediately.

Bring the stock back to the boil and remove from the heat.

When the turkey is cooked, pour off the fat from the roasting juices, place the tin on the hob, whisk in the flour and place over a low heat and cook the flour mixture making sure you have scraped up all the meaty, sticky bits on the bottom of the tin. Stir constantly.

After two minutes, remove from the heat and whisk in the turkey giblet stock and redcurrant jelly, bring slowly to the boil, stirring constantly.

Add the sherry and cook for a further three minutes, stirring constantly. Season to taste, add a little more sherry if you want, and then strain into a warm jug and serve. 


Pumpkin soufflé

Pumpkins aren’t just Halloween decorations – they have a wonderful, deep flavour and smooth texture. This is a showstopper of a vegetarian main course, guaranteed to make anyone feel special during the festive season


4 mini pumpkins

10g tarragon

½ tsp agar

½ pt water

20g sugar

25g dark chocolate (keep frozen)

20g plain flour

50g butter 

10g chilli seasoning

100ml double cream


1 small jar pesto

20g pumpkin seeds

4 baby beetroots cooked

4 baby carrots cooked

20ml balsamic glaze

Edible flowers (if possible)

1 small butternut squash

2 cloves garlic

Small sprig thyme

25ml olive oil

2 egg yolks

4 egg whites (whisked)

Step-by-step guide 

Poach the mini pumpkins gently for 30 minutes and leave to cool. Then carefully cut the top off to form a lid; scoop out the seeds and leave a ring of flesh to help it hold its shape. 

Dice the butternut, toss in olive oil, add any excess flesh from the mini pumpkins, toss with the cracked garlic cloves and thyme sprig, roast until very tender, then set aside.

For the chocolate soil, blitz the frozen chocolate in a blender until a fine soil is formed with the chilli seasoning; keep frozen until needed.

For the tarragon jelly, boil the water and sugar with the tarragon (you can add a drop of green food colour for effect). Once boiled, strain out the leaves, add the agar, then place in a bowl on a flat tray to set in the fridge. When plating the dish, cut strips of the jelly to place around the pumpkin. 

Boil the double cream and reduce by half, add the pumpkin mix and blend until a smooth paste; leave to cool.

Make the soufflé base: melt 20g of butter, beat in the flour and add the egg yolks; once this is smooth and nicely seasoned fold in the whisked egg whites.

Place this mix inside the hollowed-out mini pumpkins and bake at 190°C for about 20 minutes. 

While this is cooking, toss the cooked baby roots in a little balsamic glaze, then plate as shown