The turkey is a very large bird. Indeed, the wingspan of an adult turkey can be up to 1.8m and have a mature weight of up to 18kg. Most commercial turkeys will weigh about 4.5kg – 6.5kg.

Kitchiner observed:

“Turkeys (especially large ones) should not be dressed till they have been killed three or four days at least, in cold weather six or eight, or they will neither look white nor eat tender.

Turkeys, and large fowls, should have the strings or sinews of the thighs drawn out.

Truss them with the legs outward, they are much easier carved.”

Turkey has recently become the classic Christmas roast in this country, but it has been traditional Christmas food in Europe for a very long time. Mrs Beeton described roast turkey as follows:

“A noble dish is a turkey, roast or boiled. A Christmas dinner, with the middle classes of this empire, would scarcely be a Christmas dinner without its turkey; and we can hardly imagine an object of greater envy than is presented by a respected portly paterfamilias carving, at the season devoted to good cheer and genial charity …”

Turkey is a really good meat. It is sweeter than chicken, there is more of it and it is a special thing. Reserved for Christmas as it usually is, it is a spectacle and deserving of special attention. The problem, apart from the degree of difficulty in cooking the thing, is that an Australian Christmas is apt to be really, really hot and not the best time to enjoy such a beast. As Clive James observed:

“It was the usual Australian Christmas dinner, taking place in the middle of the day. Despite the temperature being 100°F in the shade, there had been the full panoply of raging hot food, topped off with the volcanic plum pudding smothered in scalding custard. My mother had naturally spiked the pudding with sixpences and threepenny bits, called zacs and trays respectively. Grandpa had collected one of these in the oesophagus. He gave a protracted, strangled gurgle which for a long time we all took to be the beginning of some anecdote. Then Aunt Dot bounded out of her chair and hit him in the back. By some miracle she did not snap his calcified spine. Coated with black crumbs and custard, the zac streaked out of his mouth like a dum-dum and ricocheted off a tureen.”13


Such are childhood memories.

Nonetheless, our Anglo Saxon traditions mean that whilst Australians always talk about a different menu like cold seafood and Asian dishes we just cannot bring ourselves to do it. Every year I try to have a different menu, I really do. But I cannot obtain a consensus to do it. The likelihood of a 40°C Christmas Day makes no difference. It is always the same: turkey, roast vegetables and Christmas pudding. Maybe one day.

However, do not forget how big a turkey is and be prepared for the after effects of such consumption:

“Talking about eating, Madame Bergeret said that in Midi (neighbourhood of Toulouse especially) there used to be men who prided themselves on enormous powers of eating. They did not usually eat a great deal, but on occasions, when put to it, they would perform terrible feats such as consuming a whole turkey. The result sometimes was that they were very ill. The method of curing them was to dig a hole in the muck-heap, strip the sufferer naked, put him in the hole, and pack him tightly with manure up to his neck. The people who did this did it with gusto, telling the sufferer what an odious glutton he was. The heat generated promoted digestion in a manner almost miraculous, and next day the sufferer was perfectly restored.”14

13  James, C. – “Unreliable Memoirs”.
14  Bennett, A. – diary entry, 19 July 1907.


Brillat-Savarin (your new favourite source of food type quotes) made several pertinent observations in relation to turkey. First: “The turkey is certainly one of the most glorious presents made by the new world.”

Secondly: “The turkey is the largest, and if not the finest, at least the most highly flavoured of the gallinaceous family.”

Lastly, that: “The importation of turkeys became the cause of a great addition to the public fortune, and occasioned a very considerable commerce. By raising turkeys the farmers were able the more surely to pay their rents. Young girls often acquired a very sufficient dowry, and towns-folk who wished to eat them had to pay round prices for them. In a purely financial point of view turkeys demand much attention.”

Brillat-Savarin was a chap who well knew his stuff.



How can you ignore a dish with a name like bebek betutu? It sounds much better than the more prosaic Balinese roast duck. It simply has to be made. It is somewhat involved but not if you have a little time on your hands. Think of it as something to do on a Sunday afternoon.

Duck (at least 1.8kg) – 1
Belachan* (shrimp paste) – 1 tsp
Shallots (medium size, roughly chopped) – 6
Garlic (peeled, cloves, roughly chopped ) – 6
Galangal* (peeled, finely chopped) – 15g
Ginger* (peeled, finely chopped) – 15g
Kaffir* lime leaf (very thinly sliced) – 5
Candlenut* (unsalted, macadamia nut can be substituted) – 4-5
Lemongrass (white stalk only, bruised and roughly chopped) – 2
Chilli (long, red, deseeded and white membrane removed, roughly chopped) – 2-3
Lime juice (lemon juice can be substituted) – 2 tbsp
Palm sugar* – 40g
Turmeric* (peeled and finely chopped, or dry) – thumb sized piece or 1 tsp if dry
Peppercorn (black, cracked) – 1 tsp
Coriander* (seed, cracked) – 1 tsp
Cumin* (seed, cracked) – 1 tsp
Nutmeg (grated) – pinch
Coconut oil* (vegetable oil can be substituted) – 1 tbsp
Spinach – 300g Cinnamon* (quill) – 1
Banana leaf* (foil can be substituted) – sufficient to wrap duck
* Available from Asian grocers.

Wrap the shrimp paste in foil. Roast in a 180°C oven for 5-10 minutes, until quite strong smelling.

Wash and dry the duck. In a food processor, make a paste of all aromatic ingredients (but not the cinnamon and spinach). Once a smooth paste is achieved, (it is much easier than using a mortar and pestle, like the Balinese), fry the paste in a little coconut oil until aromatic (about 2 minutes). Set the paste aside and allow to cool completely. Use the paste (reserve about 2 tbsp) to rub onto the duck well both inside and outside and refrigerate the duck overnight (covered).

Preheat an oven to 180°C. Blanch the spinach, refresh and squeeze dry. Mix the spinach with the reserved spice paste and place inside the cavity together with a cinnamon stick and 1⁄2 a lemon or lime. Close the cavity with skewers or string. Wrap the duck in the banana leaf or foil.

Place the duck in the oven, reducing the temperature to 120°C after one hour. Cook thereafter for 3-4 hours until the duck is well cooked. Remove the duck from the pan once cooked. Drain off the fat and using a little water deglaze the pan to make a sauce. Brown the duck well under a grill.

Serve at once with rice and the sauce from the pan juices.

Moi is a Balinese river.



The fascinating nature of an egg is not confined to its edible interior. The egg itself is a marvellous piece of evolution. It is hard to find a better example of everyday natural selection.48 It is also a remarkable piece of engineering. It is, in fact, an example of an arch. The arch is one of the strongest structures in physics. It takes about 3.5kg of mass in weight or 35 Newtons of static force to break an egg. Remember that an egg weighs between 50-60g. It is remarkable that such a small thing can withstand the force of about 75 times its own mass. The reason why it can do this is all about geometry. The arch shape is very strong. Look in doorways in old buildings like churches. They are often arches. It is a strong way to hold up a building.

The egg is so well designed that compression forces applied evenly to it cannot break the shell. Trust me, it is true. The reason is obvious, eggs are incubated externally to the fowl. That is to say the fowl sits on the egg in order to keep it warm. Poultry does not weigh a great deal, in fact they go to great evolutionary lengths to ensure this. Small bones, and not many of them, small frame, and bones which are very porous to reduce weight. All the better to fly with you see. But I digress.Nonetheless, eggs must not be crushed during the incubation process. To do so would be a very bad thing from an evolutionary point of view, and of course, not great for the egg. Here is a way to test the engineering of evolution, or the evolution of engineering, I do not know which.The best way to illustrate the strength of the egg structure is as follows. I am prepared to share with you a party trick for the kids (and adults) which I have enjoyed for many years. Take a raw egg, hold it in the palm of your hand. Close your hand and apply even pressure. Do not dig your fingers into the egg. Squeeze as hard as you want. You cannot break the egg, unless you are some kind of superman or are cheating. Challenge the kids. They will readily assume that they can break the egg. Bet them a month of putting out the garbage or tidying up their rooms. They will lose. They will hate you. They will get over it. It is funny for me.

Whereas if you tap an egg shell lightly on a hard surface, it will shatter very easily. Yet it is extremely strong under a uniform force, if applied in the right manner. A beautiful piece of engineering and evolution.

I am a river to my (grown up) people.

48 See Darwin, C. – “The Evolution of the Species” for a more erudite explanation.


The usual species 13
The other species 17
The unusual species 34
Conclusion 38
Production and consumption 42
Nutritional values – chicken meat 43
Nutritional values – eggs 44
The difference between white and dark meat 46
Nutritional value of various poultry 50
Anatomy and chemistry 53
Fish taint in eggs 54
The chemistry of cooking an egg 55
The physics of an egg shell 58
Smoking 61
Cold smoking 62
Hot smoking 63
Overhauling 64
Dry cure 65
Wet cure (all-purpose brine) 65
Salt and nitrate 66
On stock and scum 68
Browning meat 68
Regarding searing 70
On crisp skin 72
The smoke point of oils 73
Discoloured potatoes 76
A whole, boned, stuffed and rolled turkey 77
Metric measurements 79
Superheating 82
The colour green 82
The science of whisking an egg 83
Rendering poultry fat 85
Pink chicken, red bones and a whole lot of other stuff as well 86
The physics of roasting a whole chicken 95
Freezing poultry 98
Thawing frozen poultry 100
The purpose of this book 106
On titles for the book 106
Sourcing the meat 107
On seasonality 110
Take one chicken 118
Roast chicken 121
Barbeque spatchcocked chicken 125
Pandan chicken 127
Flat out chicken (poulet paillard) 131
Crumbed chicken 133
Balsamic chicken 135
Honey soy chicken wings 136
Tandoori chicken 137
Chicken baked in salt 138
Chicken in a pot (poule au pot) 139
Poached chicken with dumplings 141
Chicken with wine (coq au vin) 142
Chicken on a string 144
Chicken kiev 145
Chicken burger 148
Poached chicken with white sauce 149
Braised chicken with capsicum (poulet basquaise) 150
Chicken with lemon and potato 151
Chicken with rice (arroz con pollo) 152
Chicken with forty cloves of garlic 153
Chicken with white wine and tarragon sauce 155
Chicken and mushroom pie 156
Boned, stuffed and rolled chicken (chicken ballotine galantine) 158
Chicken liver parfait 161
Chicken terrine 163
Chicken with cheese sauce (poulet au gratin a la savoyarde) 164
DUCK 167
Take one duck 168
Roast duck 170
Braised duck legs 172
Duck leg pie 174
Duck leg ragu 175
Duck rendang 176
Duck ragu (sugo d’anatra) 178
Roast duck with balsamic vinegar (anatra arrosto con balsamico) 180
Duck confit (confit de canard) 182
Balinese roast duck (bebek betutu) 184
Duck with cannellini beans 186
A type of cassoulet 187
Take one turkey 190
Whole boned roast turkey 191
Roast turkey 193
Stuffed turkey breast 196
Meat stuffing 199
Turkey, leek and mushroom pie 200
Stuffed turkey leg and thigh 202
Roast turkey crown or buffet 204
Turkey confit 206
Stuffed quail 211
Grilled quail with pomegranate molasses 213
Quail sang choi bao 214
Quail with five spice 216
Quail terrine 217
Grilled quail with sage 219
Game pie 223
Pigeon stuffed with couscous (l’hamam m’ammar bil keskou) 224
Roast squab 225
Crispy pigeons 226
Roast partridge 228
Smoked partridge 229
Roast pheasant – (a recipe using a brined bird) 230
Roast goose 232
Poultry brine 236
Smoked chicken 237
Smoked quail 238
Smoked duck breast 239
Smoked turkey breast 240
Smoked pheasant 241
Smoked whole turkey 243
Smoked goose 244
Smoked rabbit 245
Corned duck 249
Duck crepinette 250
Peking duck 252
Duck legs and carrots 253
Duck or goose prosciutto (breast meat) 254
Goose leg prosciutto (prosciutto crudo d’oca) 257
Duck or goose neck sausage 258
Duck rillettes 260
Smoked duck breast 239
Chicken in salt dough 262
Duck pastrami 263
Duck bacon 264
Potted duck 265
Smoked chicken wings 266
Duck parfait 267
Brined and smoked turkey legs 268
Turkey wellington 269
Corned goose 271
Garlic en chemise 272
Boiled eggs 280
Scrambled eggs 282
Omelette 285
Poached eggs 289
Egg and bacon pie 291
Lamb and egg tagine 292
Quiche 294
Frittata 296
Curried eggs 297
Pasta alla carbonara 298
Coddled eggs 299
Potato and onion egg tortilla (tortilla de patatos cebolla) 300
Spanish baked eggs (hueuvos rancheros) 301
Hot smoked eggs 302
Wok fried eggs 303
Pickled eggs 304
Scotch eggs 306
In the matter of quail eggs 307
Rabbit 310
Take one rabbit 312
Rabbit pie 314
Rabbit confit (confit de lapin) 315
Rabbit salmonejo 318
Rabbit with mustard (lapin au moutarde) 319
Tandoori rabbit 321
Rabbit paella 322
Rabbit rillettes 324
Rabbit in tarragon sauce 325
Rolled boned and stuffed rabbit (rabbit roulade) 326
Sous vide chicken breast 331
Sous vide teriyaki chicken legs 332
Sous vide turkey breast 333
Sous vide turkey leg 334
Sous vide turkey confit 335
Sous vide duck breast 336
Sous vide duck confit 337
Sous vide quail breast 338
Sous vide quail legs 339
Sous vide pheasant breast 340
Sous vide eggs 341
Sous vide pheasant confit 342
Potato and leek soup 353
Minestrone 354
Celery soup 355
Garlic soup with eggs (sopa de ajo con heuvos) 356
Chicken and leek soup (cock-a-leekie) 357
Mushroom soup 359
Stracciatella 360
Boulangerie potatoes (potato gratin, dauphinoise potato) 364
Hasselback potatoes 367
Oregano and lemon potatoes (greek potatoes) 368
Duck fat potatoes 370
Roast pumpkin with cumin 371
Couscous with herbs and pomegranate 372
Potato, olive and tomato salad 374
Mashed potato 375
Chopped parsley salad (tabouleh) 377
Turkish white bean salad (piyaz) 378
Kisir (bulgur wheat salad) 379
Pearl barley with peas 380
Risotto 381
Braised puy lentils 383
Braised white beans 384
Leek and blue cheese tart 385
Rocket lettuce with radishes 390
Tomato and onion salad 391
Asian coleslaw 392
Braised peas with lettuce and zucchini (petits pois a la francaise) 393
Green bean salad 394
Stuffed capsicum (stuffed peppers) 396
Sautéed zucchini with garlic 397
Balsamic roasted beetroot 398
Slow roasted tomatoes 399
Tomato and onion pie 400
Braised lettuce with other things 401
Blanched pea and asparagus salad 402
Flourless orange cake 407
Galaktoboureko (greek custard pie) 408
Fig tart (fig galette) 410
Set cream (a type of panna cotta) 411
Mrs Blair’s custard 413
Oranges and cointreau 414
Creamed rice 415
No. 1 Daughter’s pavlova 416
Chocolate tart (à la Sebastian) 417
Lemon tart (à la Sebastian) 422
Queen of Sheba cake (reine de saba) 423
Upside down apple tart (tarte tartin) 424
Cherry tart (cherry clafoutis) 426
Prune tart (far breton) 427
Lemon curd 428
Lemon and passionfruit delicious 429
Zabaglione 430
Baked custard 431
Passionfruit flummery 432
Pineapple pudding 433
Sauce gribiche 437
Salsa verde 438
Salsa verde al rafano 439
Sauce vierge 441
Pesto alla genovese (pesto) 442
Piri piri sauce 443
Cumberland sauce 444
Parsley, garlic and caper sauce 445
Vinaigrette of many flavours 446
Mayonnaise 447
Chimichurri 448
Red terator sauce 450
Romescu sauce 451
Parsley dressing 452
Sweet chilli sauce 453
Saffron sauce 454
Mushroom and cream sauce 455
Parsley sauce 456
Mustard and cream sauce 457
Garlic sauce 458
Pepper sauce 459
Basic gravy 460
Garlic confit 461
Appendix 1 – The Bibliography 468
Appendix 2 – Stock 475
Appendix 3 – The spit roast 477
Appendix 4 – The conversion tables 482
Temperature F° to C° 482
Weight – imperial to metric 484
Volume – imperial to metric 487
Dry measurements – imperial to metric 491
Liquid measurements – imperial to metric 492
Appendix 5 – The markets 493
Appendix 6 – On the subject of sous vide 496
Appendix 7 – Regarding brining 504