The Persepolis Top Five Things to Rub on Your Turkey…

Our handy cut out and keep guide to better basting.

We all know that there are umpteen ways to stuff a turkey. But you can generate an equally appreciative chorus of oohs and aahs if you rub the skin of your bird with the right herbs and spices. And turkey does need all the help it can get. Because, let’s face it, most of us, if pushed, admit that we don’t really dig turkey all that much.

Here are our favourites:

  • a) harissa it up: mix 4 teaspoons of harissa paste* with 1 tablespoon of olive oil* and the juice and zest of one lemon. Carefully lift the skin of the breast (and where possible the legs) of your turkey, and rub the harissa mix all over the flesh underneath before smoothing the skin back in place. Rub the outside of the bird with olive oil, salt and harissa spice mix* (or ras el hanout*). Stuff it with whole wedges of lemon, orange, onion and garlic.
  • b) black olive paste*: mix two tablespoons of paste with one of olive oil together with a generous teaspoon of black pepper and some fresh thyme. Rub both under the skin and on top of the skin. This works well with shop-bought sage and onion stuffing, which you can then doctor by studding it with chilli, capers*, olives* and chopped gherkins*. Trust us: it’s good stuff.
  • c) the Persian word for turkey is boogalamoo. Cool, no? Anyway this is a very traditional Iranian baste. You simply steep around 3/4 teaspoon of ground saffron* in boiling water, and then mix it with around 100g melted butter. Drizzle over the flesh of the bird immediately prior to shoving it in the oven. Baste generously while cooking. Gives the thing a lovely golden glow. If you want to be completely Persian, you should then stuff the turkey with you favourite mixture of dried fruits and nuts: apricots*, barberries*, sour cherries*, almonds*, pistachios*… just fry them off in some butter with cardamom* and cinnamon*. Mmmmm.
  • d) go Turkish. Thus allowing room for endless puns. And in truth we have no idea what the Turks do with their turkeys. But this idea uses muhammara*, which they eat for breakfast in Anatolia. It is a fiery paste blended with walnuts. As with (a) above, mix the muhammara with olive oil: add a couple of teaspoons of oregano*, and rub the mixture under the skin. Coat the outside of the skin with butter or ghee, and fill with a stuffing made of barley* and dates* and figs* and walnuts. (Oh alright then – cook the barley by absorption, fry the dates and figs and walnuts in butter and stir them into the barley, and then drizzle the lot with a little date syrup*.)
  • e) Rather than make your turkey into curry the next day, do it from the start. Mix a little of your favourite curry paste with olive oil, and rub it under and over the turkey’s skin. Dot the skin with extra butter for good measure. Stuff the bird with pilau rice, which you should make with spring onions, mango pickle*, buttery raisins and saffron.

So there you have it. Christmas not necessarily made easier, but maybe more interesting.

*indicates goodiess we coincidentally-and-oh-so-conveniently sell at Persepolis