Let’s face it - who wants to stuff a turkey!

Roasting the turkey and all the fuss and palaver that goes with it is surely the most stressful part of what should be the best fun day of the year?

Why do we put ourselves through it?  

We haven’t cooked a turkey in our house since 1969. My older sister, then aged 14, declared she was making Christmas lunch. When she proudly started to carve the golden, crisp skin of the biggest turkey we had ever seen, she hit a problem.  After several failed attempts to cut through the skin into the flesh her error slowly dawned on us all.

Though it looked as if she had roasted the bird perfectly, she had not realised she should have defrosted it first! The middle was still rock solid. When she eventually managed to saw through the flesh, she found a plastic bag with the frozen giblets still tucked inside!

It was hilariously funny, for a few minutes, until one by one it dawned on us as our paper hats dropped onto our empty plates, we were getting no Christmas Lunch!

If tackling a whole turkey is a bit of a challenge for you, try pan-roasting some turkey escallops in a shallow frying pan with some sage, Parma ham and white wine. It makes a tasty meal and is not too rich…leaving more space for the Christmas pudding!


‘Saltimbocca’ means ‘jump in your mouth’ … lip smacking !


4 turkey breasts (free -range if possible) 

sea salt and black pepper

8 thin slices Parma ham or smoked streaky bacon

8 fresh sage leaves

2-3 tablespoons olive oil

A small blob butter

½  lemon sliced thinly

150 ml dry white wine

The juice  of the other half lemon


First flatten and tenderize the turkey breasts by laying them between two pieces of clingfilm and bashing them flat with a rolling pin.

Remove the clingfilm and season the turkey well.

Lay 2 slices of Parma ham on each breast and use toothpicks to secure 2 sage leaves and a slice of lemon to each one.

Warm the olive oil and butter in a heavy frying pan.

Add the turkey breasts in one layer and cook briskly, turning to brown on each side.

Add the dry white wine and raise the heat to evaporate the alcohol off and condense the liquid to create a delicious gravy.

(Sniff the fumes until they no longer catch the back of your throat to check the alcohol has burned off)

Add a squeeze of lemon juice and serve immediately.

Mary Contini is author and broadcaster, director Valvona & Crolla ( valvonacrolla.com)

Easy Peasy Real cooking for Kids Mary Contini and Pru irvine Birlinn …Out now