1.6kg turkey breast, skin off
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
a large bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked
1 x 340g jar cranberry jam
25 g dried porcini mushrooms
6 rashers quality smoked streaky bacon, thinly sliced
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
600 g mixed mushrooms, chopped
1 turkey leg
1 carrot, roughly chopped
1 leek, trimmed and roughly chopped
1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped
2 heaping Tbsp plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 knob unsalted butter
2 x 500g packets all-butter puff pastry, chilled
1 free-range egg, beaten
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Place the turkey breast upside-down on a board. Gently slice into the natural join of the breast muscle to open it out and make a sort of pocket. Season well then drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle over a half the thyme leaves, then spread over an even layer of cranberry jam, pushing it into all the nooks and crannies. Fold it back into shape to seal the mixture inside – Swiss roll-stylie – and push a few cocktail sticks into the seam to keep it together.
2. Transfer the turkey to a roasting tray, season the outside with the remaining thyme leaves, a good pinch of salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Rub it all over, cover in foil and roast in the hot oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until just cooked through – using a thermometer, you want it to be 72°C at the thickest point.
3. Meanwhile, soak the porcini mushrooms in a dish of just-boiled water.
4. After 5 minutes stir with a fork so any bits of grit sink to the bottom. Add the bacon to the pan with a splash of oil on a medium heat and fry for 5 to 10 minutes, or until beautifully golden and super crispy then strip in 2 rosemary sprigs for the last 30 seconds or so to crisp up.
5. Remove everything from the pan with a slotted spoon or a fork so the bacon fat stays behind and set aside.
6. Add the fresh mushrooms to the bacon fat, then season with salt and pepper. Drain and chop the porcini, saving some of the water, then add to the pan – give it all a good stir. Add a splash of the porcini water, avoiding the grit, then leave to cook for around 10 to 15 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed and the pan starts to sizzle again. You have to invest a bit of time here – until they’re golden, soft and sticky with caramelly edges.
7. Cut the thigh off the turkey leg and cut into it slightly, for maximum flavour. Throw it all into a pot along with the carrot, leek and onion – just hack them up any old how – you don’t need to be precise. Stir in the flour, add a good pinch of salt and pepper then go in with 2 litres of boiling water. Add a heaped tablespoon of cranberry jam, the balsamic vinegar and a sprig of rosemary. Bring back to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for around two hours, or until it thickens right up and builds up a wonderful depth of flavour. Strain it through a sieve. Reheat before serving.
8. When the mushroom pan is dry, add a knob of butter to add a silkiness and luxuriousness, then toss to coat. Transfer the mushrooms to the processor and whiz it all up – you want a mixture of smooth and chunky. Leave to cool. Once the turkey breast and stuffing have cooled, you can get on with assembling the wellington.
9. Dust a nice clean surface, then roll each packet of puff pastry to the size of a shoe box (one will be the base, one the lid – roll the lid ever so slightly bigger). Get yourself a roasting tray and line it with greaseproof paper. Dust with flour, then place the smaller piece of pastry into the tray. Spread half of the mushroom stuffing onto the middle of the base to cover an area the same size as your turkey breast. Remove the cocktail sticks, then place the turkey breast on top and spread the remaining stuffing over the top of the breast, packing it all in and smoothing it out so that the whole breast is covered. Sprinkle with the crispy the bacon and rosemary for an extra bit of crunch, then brush the edge of the pastry with the beaten egg – it will act like a glue, make the whole thing air-tight and will make the outside lovely and golden. Lay the second sheet of pastry over the top, gently mold it round the shape of the breast, pushing all the air out and seal together. Trim the edges to around 4cm, then pull, twist, tuck and pinch in the pastry around the edges (like in the picture).
10. Brush with the beaten egg then all the hard work’s done. Leave it uncovered in the fridge overnight until you’re ready to cook it. All you need to do on Christmas day is to cook it at 180°/350°F/gas 4 for 50 to 60 minutes, or until risen, puffy and beautifully golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for around 10 minutes, transfer to a board for carving. Serve with the gravy and all the usual trimmings – take it over to the table, carve into 2.5cm slices. Christmas in a mouthful.