Sunday, 30 December 2012


I love a good challenge, i really do and roasting a whole turkey is nothing short of that. First of all our turkeys are nothing like the oyinbo turkeys, ours have suffered and trekked and have rhino skin! So, treating them like oyinbo turkey might leave you with a emmm...not cooked through bird.

For this challenge of mine i had to consult with an amazing cook, miss @ajikespecial and she saw me through. Muah!

5Kg Whole Turkey
Turkey Giblets (Feet, Neck, Gizzard and all that jazz)
1 Cup of Butter
2 Lemons
Salt and Pepper
Poultry Seasoning
2 Tablespoons Paprika
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Sprig of Fresh Rosemary
1 Carrot
1 Celery Stalk + Leaves
1/4 Cup Chopped parsley
2 Onions

For a bird this big that would require a long cooking time, step 1 should always be a brine. The only container this bird could fit into was a cooler so into a cooler it went.

I covered it with brining mix and since it couldn't fit into my fridge i put it into the deep freezer with the lid off. Even for the cooler the turkey was still a tad big so from time to time i would go and turn it over to make sure it got a fairly even submersion all round. Don't worry about it being in the freezer if its a cooler, the insulation of the cooler won't let it freeze.

After 18 hours the skin had plumped up and even touching the bird you could tell that it was slightly softer. Now comes the work.

Make a dry rub of spices by mixing salt, pepper, paprika, poultry seasoning, garlic and onion powder and set aside.

Use a pair of kitchen scissors or a knife and make a little cut from the bottom area and then from the neck. Get your hands in there and carefully pry skin away from muscle.

Take dry rub and massage under the skin, the skin of a turkey is really thick so if you put your spices just on top, chances are you won't get much flavour on the inside.

PS. You might wanna wear a glove depending on how much pepper you're packing in that rub, my hands were burning for quite a while...

Roughly chop 1 onion, celery, parsley and carrot and transfer to a bowl, add about a third of your butter and a tablespoon of dry rub and mash it all together.

Now stuff your bird, bottom side first and then from the neck. These vegetables are not going to be eaten, we are just using them to further flavour the inside of your bird and to keep it nice and moist.

Seal using metal or wooden skewers (if you have any).

Using a paper towel, pat dry the top skin of your turkey. Mix remaining butter with dry rub to make a paste and rub over the turkey. If you don't dry off the skin of the turkey first the butter will not stick to the skin. You can also use a bit of vegetable oil to substitute the butter.

Back into now dry, now empty cooler and back into the freezer overnight.

I woke up bright and early, pre-heated my oven, brought turkey out to return to room temperature or close (about 1 hour). Spiced the turkey giblets and cooked down to make a nice stock (about 4 cups in volume) and set aside.

Got out a roasting pan, poured in stock, lemons cut into quarters, 1 chopped onion and 3 cloves of fresh garlic. Put a roasting rack in the pan (this elevates whatever your grilling off the liquid in the pan and catches the drippings from the turkey), then gently placed the turkey.

Now traditionally, for the turkey's that lived on Old McDonald's farm, cooking time would be 20 minutes per kilo plus 90 minutes but for this Nigerian backyard fowl i'd nearly double that. My bird was a 5kg bird, so i gave i total cooking time of a little over 5 hours.

Yeah, so where was i?

Place turkey on roasting rack, breast-side up and cover with a sheet of foil, scrunching and sealing it into the edges of your pan (in my pic it isn't completely covered, that was before my dear friend said to cover completely and maybe even double up...oops!). The foil is to stop the bird from browning too fast while it cooks. Place roasting pan on the lowest level of your oven.

Allow to go steady for 4 hours on medium temperature then take off the foil. If you have a cooking thermometer, stick it into your bird and if your internal temperature hits 82C/180F, your bird is cooked. To test if you have a nice moist bird, stick a table knife carefully where the thigh is attached to the body of the bird, if a clear juice oozes out, you have succeeded.

Turn up the heat. Using a turkey baster or soup laddle scoop some of the stock from the pan and pour over bird, you can also brush over with some melted butter or oil if you want a really crisp skin. Return into the oven and allow it to roast uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour.

When roasting, the juices in the meats move close to the skin, always allow resting time before cutting into it or you will lose all the juices and be left with a dry piece of meat. About 30 minutes will allow the turkey rest properly and have the juices redistribute.

While turkey rest, transfer stock from pan to pot, add a cup of water and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes. take off the heat and strain.

Making a roux by melting equal quantities of butter and flour in a pan on high heat till you have a smooth paste, pour in strained stock little by little and turn down heat.

Allow to cook till it just begins to thicken up then take off the heat.

Serve with turkey slices.


I sure did!


Friday, 21 December 2012


I know beans may not come into anyone's Christmas menu but it is healthy, filling and will guarantee you a good sleep afterwards, and after cooking, hosting, laughing, smiling and hosting for hours, you could sneak a little portion and just pass out. :D

I do have a few friends who fly the beans flag and this post is dedicated to them.

2 Cups of Brown Beans 
1/2 Cup Crayfish
1 Dried Fish (Bones Removed)
3 Ripe Plantains
1 Onion
1 Cup Palm Oil
Salt and Pepper
2 Seasoning Cubes

For beans pottage, brown beans is best suited because it has more flavour even though it takes a bit longer to cook.

Always "pick" your beans to get rid of chaff and little stones.

Rinse and add to pressure pot with water to cover the beans a little.

Add chopped onion, crayfish, dried fish, pepper, stir and cover.

Allow to cook for about 20 minutes. It is believed that adding salt makes the cooking time longer, haven't confirmed this but this is how i know how to cook it and have always cooked it this way.

If you're cooking with a regular pot you have to cook the beans for much longer to get it bite soft and you might have to keep topping up the water because with steam escaping you will lose more water than when using a pressure cooker.

When its half about 3/4 cooked, add another cup of water and turn the heat down.

Chop 2 peeled ripe plantains and add to the beans.

Add palm oil, salt and seasoning cubes, mix properly, cover to cook for another 15 minutes (25 minutes if using a regular pot).

Serve up with a side of golden fried plantain.

Sweet dreams!


Meat is life! Don't argue, just accept it and we'll all be fine. Ok? Ok!

Topside cut of beef is even more life for the dieter because it almost has no fat, it is one of (if not) the leanest cut of beef which on the flip side makes it a bit tricky to cook because it can dry out really quickly if not handled properly but fear not...

2Kg Topside Steak
3 Cups Red Wine
3 Carrots
2 Celery Stalks
2 Onions
Fresh Rosemary 
Garlic & Ginger
Salt & Pepper
1/4 Cup of Vegetable Oil
1 Teaspoon Thyme
1 Teaspoon Paprika
2 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons Flour

Even though topside steak is a lean meat, it sometimes has some fat attached to it. With a sharp knife just trim these bits off.

Combine salt, pepper, garlic, ginger, thyme and paprika to make a rub. Massage this rub onto your steak, cover with cling film and pop into the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Turn your oven on and set to grill.

Add a little oil to a pan and with the temperature high but not smoking hot, add your steak. Sear off  all the sides for about 2 minutes each and set aside. This helps to seal in the juices, flavour and give the outside a nice crust.

Roughly chop carrots, celery and onions and add to an oven roasting dish, pour in red wine. Transfer steaks and fresh rosemary.

De-glaze the pan that was used to sear the meat with about a quarter cup of wine and add to the roasting dish.

Into the oven they go for 20 minutes on both sides (total cook time, 40 minutes), basting with the juices every 10 minutes so it doesn't dry out in the oven. If you like your meat well done, give it another 10 minutes.

Remove steak and set aside to rest. Never cut into any grilled or roasted meat immediately, it will "bleed" i.e. you will lose all the juices.

Transfer remaining contents of pan to a pot and bring to a light simmer for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, for all the flavours to marry properly. Sieve and set liquid aside, say goodbye to everything else by chucking them in the bin, their work here is done.

We start our gravy by preparing a roux.

Add 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan and melt down, then gently add 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir gently until its all properly combined, 2 - 3 minutes.

Gradually start pouring in the stock from your grill pan, keep stirring and turn your heat down low.

Taste for seasoning, add a pinch of salt and cracked black pepper.

As it begins to thicken, take it off the heat.

Slice steak and serve with potatoes and side salad, laddle in a generous amount of gravy and go to town on that plate!

Food, glorious food!!!

Thursday, 6 December 2012


It is just not possible for you to be putting together a list of top Ibo soups without mentioning Oha Soup. In a lot of Ibo homes, Oha is THE soup and it basically the lighter twin of bitterleaf soup, the only difference being the vegetable added in the end. 

500grms Beef
500grms Goat Meat
500grms Assorted Meat (Offals)
3/4 Cup Ground Crayfish
1 Teaspoon Ground Uziza Seeds
Dried Fish
Stock Fish
2 or 3 Small Cocoyams
1/2 Teaspoon Ogiri
11/2 Cup of Palm Oil
1 Onion (Chopped)
Oha Leaves
Salt & Pepper
2 Seasoning Cubes

Season all of your meats and stock fish with salt, pepper, onions and one seasoning cube. Add water up to the level of your meat and cook until tender, adding a little bit more water if needed.

On the side, wash cocoyam and boil until tender. Peel and pound in a mortar to a smooth paste using a little bit of the cooking water to help lubricate. You can also do this in a food processor, just cut up the cocoyam into little pieces and add a little of the cooking liquid. Set aside.

When your meat is cooked add crayfish, ground seeds, dried fish and kpomo and allow to cook for another 5 minutes.

Now its time for some smelly business also known as "ogiri time". It is a smelly paste made from fermented locust beans that (surprisingly) adds a nice flavour to the soup WHEN USED IN MODERATION! I use a little less than half a teaspoon. See that little missing portion? Yeah, that's all i used.

Add to the soup, add palm oil and add cocoyam in tiny little balls and allow to cook for about 10 minutes. By this time the cocoyam should have dissolved completely into the soup and started thickening the soup up. If your soup is too thick, add a little extra water.

As it cooks, rinse off your oha leaves and just using your hands just tear off some leaves and tear into little pieces. The leaf is very tender so if you try chopping it with a knife you will end up killing it completely and the colour will change from a pretty light green to dark green.

When your soup is at the right consistency, taste for seasoning, add extra seasoning cube if needed and then your oha leaves. Stir and take off the heat.