After being critical of the role of traditional fare on the Australian Christmas dinner table, it started following me around. First a parcel of cold chicken arrived from somewhere a few days after Christmas, and later a stretch-wrapped platter piled high with cold turkey appeared in the refrigerator at the beach house. I was being stalked by festive poultry. My mother-in-law had been to visit. It must have been her. She always brings things; frozen Lorne sausage, home-made fruitcake, bottles of Johnny Walker Black Label, that kind of thing.
The chicken was easy: I chopped and mixed it with good mayonnaise and divided the mixture into three bowls, to which I added (a) cracked pepper and snipped chives, (b) a mixture of chopped capers and celery, and (c) chopped walnuts, a dash of paprika and finely sliced spring onion respectively. This made an excellent New Year’s Day lunch platter of sandwiches on Potts wholemeal, sourdough baguette, and Coles’ brand plain square white loaf. Guess which went quickest? The chicken/mayonnaise/walnuts/spring onions on white, of course. Chicken sandwiches are always best on white.
That left the turkey.
It had been another hot day and we had spent it on the beach and returned to the house late, the sun still blazing, and the following dish came together in the time it took to cook the pasta; and we ate outside at the card table on the balcony in the dying light, with birds calling in the trees and cold white wine at hand. Then my foot nudged the leg of the card table and my too-tall glass, top-heavy with Mt Alexander chardonnay, teetered on its stem and fell and fractured, spoiling a perfectly good paragraph.
Carbonara-style pasta with turkey.
Slice the turkey into small squares and sauté it in a large pot with a scored clove of garlic in some white wine and pepper. In another pot, cook your spaghetti or other pasta and drain it, reserving a couple of tablespoons of the liquid. Quickly transfer the drained spaghetti into the other pot, add two eggs – crack them straight in – and grated parmesan, and turn the pasta to coat it in the egg and cheese and lift the turkey through. It is cooked when the egg sets. Mere seconds. That’s it for classic carbonara, but add cream if you want an even more unctuous dish. Add a little pasta cooking fluid if necessary.