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Parker’s Tavern chef patron Tristan Welch creates an alternative Christmas roast

The Cambridge tradition of Bridgemas has inspired Parker’s Tavern chef patron Tristan Welch to come up with his turkey with a twist.

At the University of Cambridge, the students celebrate Christmas twice - once when they go home to their families but also they have a huge festive feast in college before the end of the Michaelmas term.

Tristan Welch's alternative turket roast at Bridgemas. (61219566)
Tristan Welch's alternative turket roast at Bridgemas. (61219566)

To mark this friends-only meal, the Parker’s Tavern in the University Arms Hotel has come up with some alternative turkey recipes - including a roast with curry gravy and onion bhajis - but his all time favourite is the sticky citrus and spice roasted turkey.

Tristan says: “Bridgemas is all an alternative Christmas that originated in Cambridge. It’s something that the colleges normally do, where you traditionally you celebrate Christmas with your friends ahead of celebrating with your family on Christmas Day. It’s about having just having a wonderful time with the people that you’d often rather sit around the Christmas table with! I always think of it as an alternative Christmas which is why I have come up with recipes for the restaurant that do Christmas with a twist. The Bridgemas meal is growing in popularity at the restaurant each year.

“I think this recipe is a beautiful alternative to your standard Christmas roast and it makes a wonderful fruity but savoury gravy. I really enjoy it because the the sweetness and bitterness from the citrus cuts through the turkey fabulously. The way this recipe works is you have to start it off in a cold oven, believe it or not. Then you gently increase the heat and keep basting the bird every 20 minutes. It may take a little longer to cook but the results are absolutely incredible.”

Tristan Welch's citrus roast (61219918)
Tristan Welch's citrus roast (61219918)

Starting off the roast in a cost oven is vital, explains Tristan because it keeps the turkey juicy.

He says: “If you start the roast with intense heat it will give you a lovely brown colour but it causes the meat to retract and squeezes out all of its moisture. So cooking this way gives you a better texture and a juicier turkey. I’m afraid you can’t pop this in the oven and go to the pub - it’s a labour of love. But my favourite place to drink on Christmas Day is in the kitchen anyway!”

Sticky citrus and spice roasted turkey

Tristan Welch's citrus roast (61219916)
Tristan Welch's citrus roast (61219916)


  • 5kg turkey
  • 2 oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 4in of ginger
  • 2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 packet (250g) of butter, melted
  • Sea salt and milled pepper

Citrus glaze:

  • 340g jar of Marmalade
  • 200g mixed peel
  • 300ml orange juice
  • Cinnamon stick


Be prepared this turkey will take a good four hours to cook! And the key is to pour over the cooking juices as much as humanly possible - the more you baste, the juicer the bird.

Start with a cold oven. Place turkey in a suitable oven tray, take the oranges, lemons and ginger, pierce the skins liberally with a fork and place inside the turkey with the cinnamon and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Make the citrus glaze by placing the orange juice, marmalade, mixed peel, cinnamon and orange zest in a pan. Bring to the boil and leave to one side.

Pour over the butter insuring that it has covered the entire bird (use your hands), sprinkle generously with sea salt. Place in the oven,

Turn on to 120C (gas mark 1) and roast for one hour. Baste at least three times during this hour.

Turn up the oven to 130C (gas mark 2) for another hour. Baste at least three times during this hour.

Turn the oven up to 150C (gas mark 3) for an hour. Baste at least three times during this hour.

Poor the citrus mix over the turkey and turn the oven up to 160C (gas mark 4) for the last hour and baste the mix at least three times (it’s the perfect time to get the stuffing in the oven).

Once cooked, rest the turkey in a warm place for at least 45 minutes. Strain the cooking juices as they make a delicious light gravy.

When cooking the turkey like this, it is very important that you baste it regularly by pouring the cooking juices that have collected in the bottom of the oven tray back over the turkey regularly.

Festive roast root vegetables

Take the stress out of cooking root vegetables on Christmas Day with this delicious simple recipe that you can prepare days in advance.


  • Mixed selection of root vegetables
  • Thyme
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh garlic
  • Olive oil


Choose your root vegetables - I like to use carrots, celeriac and some swede. Peel and dice them into rough chunks. Take the vegetables, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Place the vegetables on a sheet of foil with a smashed clove of garlic and some fresh thyme, even some coriander seeds if you have them. Fold the tinfoil over on itself to make a sealed parcel

This will keep in your fridge nicely for a couple of days easily.

When it comes to cooking, place in the oven at 180°C for 45 minutes for perfect cooked root vegetables.

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