BBC Food blog

« Previous | Main | Next »

The ultimate recipe for golden turkey

Post categories:

Stefan Gates Stefan Gates | 13:58 UK time, Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Yes, we really are going to cover a whole turkey in real gold...

Let’s face facts, lovely people: Christmas lunch is the most important single meal of the year for most Britons, but often it’s the most gruesome and predictable. If I eat one more dull overcooked turkey with obliterated Brussels sprouts I’ll...well...I’ll sit there miserable as sin, wondering why we eat turkey every year, like everyone else.This is why I’ve come up with a wondrous extravaganza of a dish that you and your family will NEVER forget...


Turkey gilded with gold leaf.


And the best bit of it all: there’s still turkey involved (I’m adventurous, not bonkers). The difference is my turkey is a) not overcooked and b) GOLDEN. Hoh, yes! Is it a wild extravagance to gild a turkey? Well, the gold costs about the same as a bottle of cheap Champagne. So, yes, it’s not cheap, but I think it’s a small price to pay for a Christmas lunch that you’ll never forget. Gold is perfectly safe to eat: it’s food additive E175 for anyone who was watching my last TV series! It passes straight through you and doesn’t taste of anything - other than pure magic.

For maximum effect it’s best to do this secretly and only reveal what you’ve done when the turkey hits the table.

So how hard is it to do? Well, the one in the photo took me about 15 minutes to gild using a combination of loose leaf and transfer leaf, although I have used gold leaf a fair bit, so it may take you longer. You need a booklet of gold at least 23ct or above, and you can get it cheaply from retail or online art shops - or expensively from edible gold leaf suppliers. It usually comes in booklets of 25 x 80x80mm leaves in either loose leaf (which works best) or transfer leaf (where the leaf sits on a piece of paper). One booklet is just enough to do a 4kg/8lb 11oz bird if you manage to do it without too much wastage. Keep any spare gold for knocking up golden sausages and mash another time.

What you’ll need

1 x 4kg/8lb 11oz turkey
25 small (80 x 80mm) sheets of 23ct (or higher) gold loose leaf (you can use transfer leaf too, but it’s harder to use). Use more for a larger bird.
2-3cm/1in wide paint brush (very dry and clean!)

How to do it

First, roast your turkey, but please don’t overcook it - all that stuff about turkey needing five hours to cook is utter rubbish, and is the reason why everyone thinks that turkey is dry and ‘orrible. A smallish unstuffed room-temperature 4kg turkey takes only two hours (really, it does) and a large 7-8kg/16-18lb one takes three hours. The 4kg one in the photo took two hours exactly at 180C/350F/Gas 4 and it was perfect. Roast it upside down for the first 1½ hours and turn it over for the last 30 minutes - this will keep it as succulent as possible.

Let the turkey rest for an hour – it won’t go cold, but will cool down enough for you to be able to gild it. Then sit yourself in a nice calm place without any wind, and take your gold out. Start with the breast of the turkey, and as long as you’ve done that thoroughly, the rest of the bird is a bonus!

If you’ve got loose gold leaf (that’s the best sort), the technique I’ve developed is to hold the booklet firmly so that the gold leaves don’t all slip out (it’s so thin that it floats away very easily, even on your own breath), then open each page gently and press the gold from the booklet straight onto the bird. Use a dry brush to dab it into place if you need to, around legs and crevices. It takes a couple of goes to get right, but then it’s dead easy. Just keep going until you’ve covered the whole bird.

Transfer gold leaf is great, but can give a slightly patchy effect, rather than the appearance of pure golden turkey. The transfer leaf is the easiest to use – you just need to press it against the slightly fatty skin and the gold should come away from the paper. It may need a little help with the back of a fingernail to help it, and if your gold is particularly sticky, you may need to dampen the skin of the turkey with an extra little bit of oil or a very light smear of butter. Once you’ve gilded the turkey as best you can, serve it with your favourite veg.

Are you going to fly in the face of austerity and give the Midas touch to your turkey? Or do you think that a golden turkey is an extravagance too far, even at Christmas? How will you be cooking your turkey this year?

Stefan Gates is a BBC presenter and food writer.


  • Comment number 1.

    --"Are you going to fly in the face of austerity and give the midas touch to your turkey? "--


    As much as, granted, it's an interesting idea, I can't see how it would be possible to get the rest of the meal together at the same time - it's frantic enough as it is.

    Plus, I'd rather see the golden hue of a perfectly cooked turkey with crisp skin than some "blinged-up" footballer-style travesty.

    Sorry, Stefan - I love your programmes - but I'm afraid I'm out on this one; a step too far in my book.

  • Comment number 2.

    I was planning on gilding a crown - i.e. wapping the legs off and just gilding the breast over the carcase. The Christmas pudding is getting the treatment too.

    Interesting to know that the 23ct craft stuff is edible. I ordered the edible version, so it sounds like I paid more than I needed to.

    Edible silver leaf is less than £4 a book for enough loose leaf to do a turkey, which suddenly seems like a bargain.

    Step too far? No - no such thing as too far. I absolutely love stuff like this. It's so easy to take food for granted and I'm delighted that people out there are still trying exciting new things, or combining old ideas in new and exciting ways. Stefan's book is full of ideas that excite me, and even though I love food I need stuff like this to enthuse me from time to time. Ferran Adria's keeping me busy too. Spherified cranberry sauce...

  • Comment number 3.

    "Are you going to fly in the face of austerity and give the midas touch to your turkey?"

    No. It's incredibly crass.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    Covering your turkey in gold - really? It doesn't seem to me like we are 'all in this together'...

  • Comment number 6.

    ... and, of course, as gold is a completely inert metal, for all practical purposes, you can always collect it and reuse the same gold next year.
    Almost perfect recycling.

  • Comment number 7.

    re @06 :
    ... and any spare gold can be used to line some flutes to make the cheap bubbly stuff look all nice and glitzy.
    This, too, can be recycled for next year.


  • Comment number 8.

    Cover my Turkey in Gold Leaf ?? It's the latest thing to do to appear 'cool' and 'different' !!!

    I am sooo bored of this continual pursuit by the media and lovies and the rest of those not living in the ''real world''...

    I am lucky enough to have enough money 'sloshing around' to actually have a Solid Gold turkey BUT do you know what ??? I am NOT going to do it because I am tired of people trying to be people they are not.....

    Christmas is a time for sharing , giving, helping those who have fallen on poor times or are not able to cope..... Any spare cash for 'gilding a bloody turkey' should really be diverted to a more appropriate cause , don't you think ??

    You would be better Stefan, writing for the real world and looking at ways to help not divide ...

    Happy Xmas All



  • Comment number 9.

    This will be in the news next year MPs expenses spent on gold turkey as for the rest of us we can enjoy beans on toast because of some people stealing all our money...

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    This type of dish would go down well in Lagos or Abu Dhabi.

  • Comment number 12.

    Did my license fee pay for someone to gold leaf a turkey?

  • Comment number 13.

    It's still an adative.

    If you buy it from a retail or online art store rather than the expensive edible gold leaf suppliers how sure are you that it has been prepared, packaged and stored to food hygiene standards? Do you need to check that the supplier has a current food hygiene certificate? Mix that with the only meat that causes the highest cases of food poisioning in the season and you actually have a recipie for disaster.

    I would avoid doing anything with a cooked turkey other than carving it and serving it as part of a traditional Christmas meal - keep the gold on the Christmas Crackers!

  • Comment number 14.

    Brilliant idea. Can't believe how much negativity this has created ont eh comment thread! No-one is saying you HAVE to do this. Mind you, if you are feeling that prudish, get yourself a pack of value pasta and sauce for xmas dinnner. After all, we wouldn't want to enjoy ourselves too much ;o)

    This idea of gilding food is just a great way of zwooshing up the proceedings on the day.

    I shall be bypassing the turkey gilding, but loved the idea of gold leafing the xmas pud. I've made individual sized ones, and will gold leaf half of each to add a little extra sparkle.

    Well done for giving inspiration to those of use who have an open mind to new ideas!

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    When I first saw the picture of this on the BBC homepage I thought it was a joke and somebody had wrapped a turkey in gold coloured tinfoil. How cheap & tacky is this? Might go down well with Del Boy-types or WAGs but not the rest of us!

  • Comment number 17.

    Really sad -- only real turkeys will follow this suggestion what next chocolate coated door mice ?

  • Comment number 18.

    I live in Essex and even we wouldn't go for this. A ghastly lack of taste which will no doubt go down well with participants on the Jeremy Kyle show. Waste of licence payers money AGAIN!!

  • Comment number 19.

    Well, the gold costs about the same as a bottle of cheap Champagne

    or more eloquently put... the gold costs as much as five complete Christmas dinners for the poor. Remember the spirit of Christmas. Sad that the producers in the BBC think that this will be of interest. Sad.

  • Comment number 20.

    Great idea!!! Maybe i will cook my peas in champagne and season my potatoes with crushed diamonds too. Come on seriously? there are people on the streets in our country hungry and with nowhere warm to sleep. Could i really "gild" my turkey and swallow it. I think not. Maybe the money i would waste on doing such a ridiculous thing would be better spent on a nice big sack of shopping for the homeless shelter. But thats just me hey. Enjoy your christmas' whatever you choose to do with your bird. And God bless Tiny Tim. x

  • Comment number 21.

    What planet is the bbc on?

    Can you show us how to put wheels on a tomato next, preferably platinum ones?

    I too am sick and tired of the very well paid media condescending all of us who are struggling, and this I find particularly distasteful.

    Like the gold, this ridiculous idea passed though me very quickly I'm pleased to say and is now where it belongs. Downright absurd.

  • Comment number 22.

    Utter madness.

  • Comment number 23.

    Does anyone else think this is a "bit rich"?


  • Comment number 24.

    If you like the idea of consuming gold buy a bottle of Goldwasser. It's a liqueur from Gdansk/Danzig and the flakes of gold swirling in a glass will fascinate your guests.

  • Comment number 25.

    I'm all for pushing the boat out a bit at Christmas, but couldn't conceive of going this far, especially with the country in the state it is. I'm heartened to see so many people who seem to share my opinion on the matter. A word to the wise, Mr Gates - you ARE bonkers.

  • Comment number 26.

    What a bozo! This is revolting...

  • Comment number 27.

    For heavens sake resting turkey for an hour, it'll be frigid. Resting food to me spoils it. Food needs to be blistering hot for my taste.

  • Comment number 28.

    I've never seen anything so sick and disturbing as this - covering a dead body in gold leaf before eating it.

    People get sectioned for far less than this absolutely absurd and backward suggestion.

    Do you think the persons in charge at the BBC with placing material on their front landing page felt the same way and wondered if anyone would revoke?

    This is seriously not a normal thing to do - and you need some form of assessment of your mental stability.

  • Comment number 29.

    A waste of the licence fee, and a sickening transgression into the ultimate commodification of food. And as a Christmas tip, this adds insult to injury - our culture doesn't need the promotion of excess: it needs charity and thrift.

  • Comment number 30.

    Most of these comments are more OTT than the gold turkey! Where's your sense of humour? I think the gold covered turkey is hilarious and it would brighten up my christmas to be served that.

    Tasteless and crass? Maybe, but so are most things at christmas
    Sick and disturbing??? It's just a bit gold leaf on a turkey!! Be a bit more must live a very sheltered and boring life.

  • Comment number 31.

    is this a joke? it looks terrible.

  • Comment number 32.

    if the christmas meal cooked for you is not up to your high culinary standards, perhaps you should cook for everyone instead instead complaining about the effort others have gone to.
    and why stop at covering the turkey in gold. Perhaps you could pin money to yourself for the day.

  • Comment number 33.

    I will be doing this immediately after i have invested in a German made toilet, the ones that make excretion observation a simple and sanitary task. However if I am to find out that you cannot see the gold in the end product; I will unfortunately, have to agree with much of the sentiment in the comments. It would seem that perhaps it is ever so slightly vulgar to gold plate a turkey.

  • Comment number 34.

    I guess gold plated turkeys count under the new Beeb policy of 'fewer things better'. HA!

  • Comment number 35.

    --"Are you going to fly in the face of austerity and give the midas touch to your turkey?

    -in a word -


  • Comment number 36.

    HAHA! Can you imagine the disappointment on Christmas day if the turkey pictured above was placed in front of you!? This has really tickled me!

    Thomas Chamberlain's comment sums this up perfectly... 'What a bozo! This is revolting!'

    Have a GREAT Christmas everyone!

  • Comment number 37.

    WHAT A CRIB! This is not a new idea.

    VARK (Gold and silver leaf) has been used in Indian Mogul cooking for centuries,

    Use some real imagination in developing recipes, not re-hashing things past

  • Comment number 38.

    I'm with DirtyPrettyThing (comment 30). It's just a bit of fun, nobody killed an orphan or starved a village to bring us this bird. To read some comments I'd think this had been stuffed with blood diamonds.

  • Comment number 39.

    Or you could just use conventional Bacofoil (or any other brand of aluminium cooking foil) like every other Turkey eating goer.

    Looks the next day's left over's pulled straight from the fridge.

    Makes you wonder what exact 'herb' ingredient Mr. Gates uses to stuff his cooked creatures with... I do hope it isn't the illegal kind?

    This is sure to get the poor raging... rub your delightful 23ct 'golden baste' right in their faces, why not!?

    I'll be having my usual vegan sausages this Christmas!

    Have a good and peaceful Christmas folks! Keep it real and remember the poor and needy!

  • Comment number 40.

    Oh good lord people, its just a bit of fun!

    Ok, yes, we could "feed the poor" (as was it was put above) with the money instead, but if you feel so strongly maybe you should forgo the dinner entirely, and do away with the presents, and what's more let's not give Santa his sherry and Rudolph can do without his carrot!

    Come on, lighten up... I'm all for helping those that are less well off, but if you can do this too... well, why not? :-)

  • Comment number 41.

    I really am amazed at the outpouring of hate for just a fun suggestion, for people that could afford it and might want to. Which is the same as anything else you do or don't do at Christmas. Like having champagne, or smoked salmon, or deocorations or presents, or Christmas dinner at all.
    For those people shouting about how many poor people you could feed with the cash, what will you be giving up to feed the poor this Christmas? Is it so wrong for people to spend the money they have worked hard to earn, in any way they choose?
    Having said that, can't imagine doing that to my lovely turkey but definitey one to consider for the Christmas pud!

  • Comment number 42.

    This is the sort of obscene opulence that is a cancer on our society.

  • Comment number 43.

    £175 - that's the cost of a lot of people's present list - the whole list. It isn't a luxury - it's a step beyond extravagance. A properly cooked, well-served turkey requires no more decoration than a good dollop of bread sauce, crisp roast potatoes and glistening buttered cabbage. Covering it with anything smacks of covering something up.

    And heaven forbid if any of your guests have fillings - a scrap of foil off a chocolate bar is agony enough - a mouthful of gold leaf across the amalgam would have most people screaming from the room.

    Sorry, but a gilded turkey is a silliness too far.

  • Comment number 44.

    -"£175 - that's the cost of a lot of people's present list"-

    I can't imagine it would cost anywhere near £175! It said it would cost the same as a cheap bottle of champagne.

  • Comment number 45.

    Good heavens where will all this obsession with food oneupmanship end?

  • Comment number 46.

    So, this does look very extravagent and memorable. But, I've always wanted a small lump of gold. Would it be wrong of me to get the gold back out of, well, the toilet?

  • Comment number 47.

    Stefan, as a piece of art I think that your gilded turkey speaks volumes. Personally it makes me feel nauseous - not at the thought of eating fine sheets of metal but that as an object it symbolises everything that is wrong about Christmas. The 'season of goodwill' has become synonymous with selfishness and conspicuous consumption rather than love and peace to all. Condemning one of the earth's most valuable commodities to the sewer in a misguided attempt to be 'novel' at a time where a significant proportion of the UK is teetering on financial crisis just brands the creator of this folly as a self-possessed, shallow fool. I really wish that you were an artist Stefan rather than someone who was actually advocating that other people follow your lead because then I would be hailing your success.

  • Comment number 48.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 49.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 50.

    I misread E175 for £175. But it is still silly, wasteful, one-upmanship and not at all clever - it isn't even original.

  • Comment number 51.

    If we spread the revelation that that Gold is actually useless - and food and water is the most important comodity known to mankind, then we could ALL do better that Eric Cantona's social revolution against the banks and his encouraging of customers of the major retail banks to withdraw their money.

    We are brainwashed to think Gold is useful. It is worthless and meaningless.

    Food is FAR more important - not worthless gold!

    Wake up sheeple!

  • Comment number 52.

    Come on guys, lighten up, this is a bit of fun and makes food look interesting. Does it really matter that it costs a bit more then most people may want to spend? I would rather look at and read about a crazily decorated turkey then a standard roasted turkey I could pull off myself on a sunday afternoon.

  • Comment number 53.

    @51. At 7:37pm on 05 Dec 2010, Lode wrote:
    "We are brainwashed to think Gold is useful. It is worthless and meaningless."
    Gold is prettty. It is a metal, but, unlike most of the hard, nasty, ugly grey metals, gold has this wonderful sun-like lustrous colour. It has been extracted from ores for longer than any other metal. It used to be very easy to extract from the ores that were around during the early history of our city cultures.
    Gold has always ben seen as valuable just because it is a metal and it is pretty. That is not really "brainwashing", it is just an aspect of our common humanity, like watching the stars and longing for them.
    So gold is pretty and it became valuable, but it only became *THE* commodity when it was used to back or used as currency. Once gold could buy everything else, from water to houses, from people to countries, its value became distorted for all time.
    Gold has uses. It is useful in chemistry, it is useful as an amalgam in dentistry (though there are better) and it is invaluable in electronics. It *could* be useful as a corrosion proofing agent for other metals and alloys, were it cheap enough. It is absolutely useless as a building or tooling metal, it is too soft and it softens everything it mixes with.
    Gold is heavy and soft, so even though it conducts far better than copper, it would never be used in an great length of wiring. In microcircuits it is useful, but only because weight and rigiity are irrelevant in small quantities. Gold would be even more useful were it vastly cheaper, as it "should" be.
    Gold's value is inflated by the historical use of it as a currency, it is really not a rare metal, and it "really" isn't worth thousands of dollars per ounce. It should be roughly as cheap as copper, considering how easy it was to extract thousands of tons of it, but it never will be. The "brainwashing" by banks and governments is to ingrained for it to ever be lifted.
    Putting gold on food is something the rich, and stupid, have been doing ever since they decided crass glitz would impress the poor with their might and power and class. Kings, Kahns, Emperors and tribal chiefs have been gilding their cornflakes for many millennia. True, it hasn't been done much since Victorian times, so it now sounds cool and new and magical, but it is just one more obvious way of showing "bling". The legends and myths of kings like the much-mentioned Midas come not from supernatural abilities, but from them being boorish and childish and thinking surface gloss is important.
    Kings never were very cultured, most of them. It doesn't often seem to be a job requirement. (Our present Great Lady, being, of course, one of the few exceptions.)
    Go into any palace of any dynasty that has lasted into the third generation, the grandchildren, the ones who inherited everything and who feel obligated to show their founders how great *they* could have been as conquerors and you will find gold. Statues, bracelets, gilded fake weaponry, all sorts of things. Even the wooden holders of paintings, the frames, are often gilded.
    There are thousands of tons of gold stored uselessly in tacky collections of junk that are "valuable" but that will never be seen or used or even displayed to show how powerful and mighty the local Ozymandias is. There are more kilotons stored uselessly in vaults as evidence of "wealth".
    Much of the gold is held is artworks that, themselves, are pretty and should probably be kept, even if only for historical reasons, but there is an awful lot that never sees daylight and that is just attic-fodder kept for the sake of keeping it.
    A lot of the tat could and would be released were gold to be unvalued, demonitarised, reduced to the status of a mere metal rather than a currency or currency support.
    That, like the obvious method of clearing the UK's debts, would be a disaster of far more than Biblical proportions. It would destroy our world economy. Just like us forgiving USA's debts if they forgive ours, which *seems* like such a simple and lovely idea, reducing gold to a mere metal would be a great boon to everyone but financiers, and would be an economic impossibility.
    Even were it done, coating food in gold would *still* be a stupid, crass and wasteful idea. Sure, putting one golden chocolate in a special selection might make it classy, but gilding a cucumber, an onion or a turkey is just childish.
    The argument that you could feed "a mllion starving Africans" (to take our parents' favourite example) for the price of one of those is a bogus strawman. We could feed the entire African continent's contingent of undernourished with what one supermarket chain wastes in a week. We won't. Ever. That, too, is a seductivly simple idea that would destroy much of the unfairness and inefficiency that underpins our world economy.
    Our economy is based on the idea that the King has lots, his under-kings have less but still more than the peasantry and the peasantry get pig's knuckles and chicken beaks. This model is the only way our present economy *can* work.
    We have enough treasure, enough productivity, enough food, enough transportation and enough routing software to be able to support every human being on the planet in decent comfort, but it would take the total re-design of our economy. That would cause massive disruption while we moved from an economy of limited-resources-and-greed to one of infinite resources and the Principle of Enlightened Self-Interest.
    It *could* be done, we *could* eliminate hunger, poverty, wars over resources, need, greed and much of the inter-tribal hatreds we now have, but it would mean, as a first step, the near-total empoverishment of every rich person on the planet.
    It would mean BBC cue-card readers and politicians all working for national minimum wage.
    It just aint gonna happen.
    Gilding a turkey is something *only* a turkey paid far too much by a tax-supported trough like the BBC would dream of doing, but not doing it will not help the poor.
    Not *having* turkeys with the resources to do this would help them, but, like making gold a mere industrial resource, that can never happen.
    Put it this way, I do a job. I get paid for this. I would be very reluctant to give up half or more of my pay just to help feed the world.
    I am not unique in this.
    The economy of poverty and greed will always be with us until people like me are enthusiastic about sacrificing their goodies.
    I'm selfish. So are most of us. The strawman argument that me, personally, not enjoying Christmas will somehow magically make life better for a poor Peruvian, or a luckless Londoner, does not influence me one bit. Nor will it until the directors of all of the charities are living on the incomes of the people they are asking us to help. But that is an irelevance, and has no bearing on me gilding food.
    The reason *I* won't be gilding my turkey is two-fold: I can't afford a turkey, nor the gold with which to gild it, and I think it is a crass, stupid, tatseless and idiotic waste of a valuable metal.
    I also don't think it would look very special, but that is personal taste. I prefer the fractally metallic tinsel and wrapping papers of recent years. *Those* are gorgeous.
    And they are things no emperor of Ancient Rome could ever have owned.
    Technology has enriched us beyond the *need* for gold.
    It has enriched us beyond the need for gilden larks' tongues being used to impress the gullible, too, but that is part of human nature that will probably never improve.
    Petty kings will always be with us.

  • Comment number 54.

    Wow! Thanks for all your comments - I was expecting a bit of flack, obviously. So to answer a few of your thoughts...

    I never claimed that using gold on food is a new idea - I've seen it widely eaten in India, where it's used extensively on sweets and at celebration meals such as weddings for both rich and poor (and at many festivals, both lay and Hindu), its also scattered on rice and pressed onto sweets. It's also used widely in the UK and the rest of the world by chocolatiers, and finds its way onto haute cuisine dishes from people like Heston Blumenthal. I have never in my life, however, seen a golden turkey. Of course, the fact that it's already used extensively across the world doesn't necessarily make it better or worse, but I'm certainly not claiming it's a new idea.

    Is it inappropriate to eat it? Well I'm not suggesting you eat gold every day, but to offer your friends and family an unforgettable experience at Christmas - maybe once in a lifetime. Christmas is a time when we do out-of-the-ordinary things to celebrate, and I will be cutting back on other things in order to put a golden turkey on the table to give my friends that extraordinary moment. And in the scheme of things, Do I NEED a Christmas tree? No. Do I NEED to give presents? No. Can I really afford to give more to charity than usual just because it's Christmas? No. Do I NEED to have my friends and family over for a bigger meal than any of us really requires? No. Do I NEED to serve a golden turkey? No. Am I going to do all of these things because I want to celebrate for the sake of the joy and happiness it gives me and my family and friends? Yes, I am. The gold costs about £15 for a book of 25 leaves, silver is about £4.50. As I've mentioned, that's no small sum, but I'll be axeing something - probably the bottle of fizz - this year to make way for it.

    Is it crass to serve a golden turkey? Well, that's your call, and I hear what you say about it, but it's definitely all in the delivery. I'd suggest that you don't serve it in a po-faced 'I'm so wealthy that I can offer you a golden turkey' manner. That will make you look like a plonker. No - this is for the fun and the spectacle, to give your friends and family - and especially kids - a Christmas they'll never forget. If that makes me a 'shallow, self-obsessed fool', I'm not entirely sure how.

    Have a great Christmas, whether golden or not. And please don't overcook that turkey.
    Stef x

  • Comment number 55.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 56.

    A fine rebuttal, sir! And nice to know you read the comments!

    I hope you and your family enjoy your golden turkey this year, and you all have a wonderful, joyful Christmas.

    All I can say is that you must be a hell of a lot calmer in the kitchen than I am on Christmas day (hardly surprising...!) - I look like a Masterchef contestant under Monica's steely gaze the amount my hands start shaking towards the end! No chance of me delicately handling gold leaf without getting it all over my face, anyone stupid enough to enter the kitchen, and the dog as I boot it out!

    All the best.

  • Comment number 57.

    Over on the BBC Food messageboard, there’s been even more discussion about Stefan’s turkey…

    Dee: I think the turkey looked appalling - why would you want to cover up a beautifully cooked, burnished bird? Not adverse to a bit of gilding - (had a little gold leaf on a pudding at Le Manoir - it looked fab) but I think this is a case of "less is more". Maybe a few carrots or Brussels wrapped in gold leaf nestling among the unadorned ones would be far more effective? As for the money - well, if that's what people want to spend their honestly earned money on, then that is their business. No more un-PC than spending thousands on a bottle of Petrus at lunch or far less offensive (IMO) than the millions of people who take traditional "remedies" made from endangered species.

    Mrs Vee: Sorry - I don't think that's a 'wondrous extravaganza of a dish'. I think it looks revolting, cheap, nasty and very unappetising. Why anyone would want to ruin the luscious good looks of a perfectly cooked turkey is completely beyond me. (And I don't even eat meat!) Like a lot of other 'cheffy' nonsense they do it because they can, without ever thinking about whether it's a good idea. Good food speaks for itself - IMO it doesn't need to be dressed up like a Christmas tree to make an impact.

    DirtyPrettyThing: It's not something I would make myself but it did make me giggle seeing a roast turkey coated in gold. I was shocked at how furious so many people were at this recipe. As someone else said, what people spend their own money on is their own business.

    Liliana: He says it took him 15 minutes, but it might take someone longer...first thought about that I really want to be doing this in the middle of getting the potatoes, stuffing, bacon rolls finished and making my last minute prep? Which is when the turkey is I don't...even if I thought it was a good idea.

    Global_Worming: I prefer looking at the golden bird in Goldfinger.

    Get on the BBC Food messageboard for more food chat and cookery advice:

  • Comment number 58.

    @54. At 5:11pm on 06 Dec 2010, Stefan Gates wrote:

    "Wow! Thanks for all your comments - I was expecting a bit of flack, obviously. So to answer a few of your thoughts...

    I never claimed that using gold on food is a new idea "

    True, you never claimed it was original, very, very few recipes *are* original. (I have some that I have never seen in books, but only because I eat weird stuff.) The fun in cooking is trying to present nice stuff, tasty, edible stuff, in pretty, attractive arrangements that delight all the senses, even hearing when the meat bubbles and sizzles.
    It seems that few of us think gilded turkeys are "pretty", but that would depend on the cook. Done right, done with care and even a little love, even a bowl of noodles with spices and sauces can be a treat. We might think the *idea* of golden food is tacky, but it could be that presented with a sense of joy and fun it would, indeed, be cool. Having a cook who enjoys his art, and who enjoys the pleasure it gives the rest of us helps a lot.

    And, as said above, the additive isn't biodegradable, so it theoretically could be recycled...

    Here's one of *my* extremely tacky "meals":
    "Breakfast" recipe: Line the bottom of a microwavable Pyrex bowl (I use casserole dishes with covers) with salt. Start a kettle of fresh water heating. Add six drops of red hot sauce, cover the salt in black soy sauce to dissolve. Drop in two teaspoons of piccalili, gritty mustard and "branston" style pickles. Use thumbs to break up two packets of ten-pence noodles from a supermarket chain whose name begins with "S". Chicken "curry" is best. Drop the noodles and their sachets of seasoning into the bowl. Pour the boiling water over the mess. Don't make a soup, add enough water to be able to just see it through the noodles. (Exact measurements? In *cookery*? Not a chance. Exactness is for *work*.) Cover the bowl and microwave at full power for 83 seconds in a 1KW radar oven. The time is important. Any longer and it will boil over. (Time it for 1' 30" and stop it when it reaches a countdown of 7 seconds.)
    Revove from oven. Place on a warming plate to keep it warm. Serve with some pickled red cabbage on top, centred, and a picked onion in the centre of that.
    Cheap, student fodder at its "best".
    Oh, the 83 seconds was intended as humour. Use much more than that, and the noodles will boil over, but it doesn't have to be so precise.
    As Mr. Gates says: don't overcook.
    In the case of gilded turkey, be sure never to *UNDER*-cook, either. Well cooked turkey is safer.
    Oh, and be sure to wash the gold before re-using.

    :} R

  • Comment number 59.

    Wouldn't it be easier to use this...

  • Comment number 60.

    I fear Mr Gates has exposed his inner chav! if the Pound Shop sold turkeys they would look like this...

  • Comment number 61.

    This is really a very traditional way to treat a festive bird. Endoring - "making golden" - was a food presentation technique in English cookery by the fifteenth century, if not earlier. The rich used gold leaf as above; the less wealthy used a paste of egg yolks and saffron to give a similar effect.

    An authentic recipe for "Chike endored" (Gilded chicken) using the egg and saffron technique can be found at

  • Comment number 62.

    Gold and silver leafing is used extensively in the Indian sub continent on food, especially desserts. It is said to act as an aphrodisiac for men!! Perhaps there will be many men now asking their wives to gild their turkeys now!

  • Comment number 63.

    I've learnt something from this, which is that gold is edible, but I'd rather my Christmas dinner to look like a gorgeous juicy turkey and not a Dr Who prop! Interesting post though.

  • Comment number 64.

    Rev John wrote what I would like to have written...but put it far better than I would

  • Comment number 65.

    The reason we have ridiculous posts like this is because so many people buy into this tripe by watching the ridiculous amount of outrageous cooking programmes on the tv in general.
    It seems today there is something wrong with wanting a traditional kind of meal. It's not worth having unless it has some gimmick to 'liven' up an otherwise dull menu...

    Todays Christmas is tacky and over indulgent enough without off the wall and insulting suggestions like this.

  • Comment number 66.

    And let's look at the results............

    It looks like you have forgotten to remove aluminium foil, having for some strange reason placed the cooked bird on a pile of composting elephant ears.

    Nevermind. 2 out of 10 for effort

  • Comment number 67.

    Benares in Berkley Square do a Lamb Shank that is served covered in gold leaf. It certainly was a fantastic talking point, but given that the turkey is going to be carved into thin slices it seems like it would be a waste to do it on the turkey.

    Something either served whole or in large servings would suit it better. Perhaps giving everyone a single golden roast potato?

  • Comment number 68.

    I always thought that heavy metals were toxic when consumed? either way: if you were extremely lucky you might live to have only 100 christmas dinners in your life, surely thats not enough time to become bored of it? Christmas dinner happens infrequently enough to have developed very little since it became common.

    In our house we don't have turkey anyway, prefering chicken and ham (at the same time)

  • Comment number 69.

    "Well, the gold costs about the same as a bottle of cheap Champagne."
    I'd rather have the cheap Champagne. ;-)

  • Comment number 70.

    I might gold-leaf our Quorn roast - nothing like a bit of bling on your micro-protein at Christmas :)

  • Comment number 71.

    Interesting but would I do it? Well, perhaps, but only with immediate family. Never for extended family or friends. Just a wee bit too naff for my canny Scottish working class morals.
    However, Stefan, may I thank you for engendering the always amusing spectacle of Lefty Liberal commentators foaming at the mouth with self righteous indignation.
    You've made my day, thank you.

    p.s. If concerned about bacterial infection on the leaf, may I suggest placing the book in an oven at, say, 150C for five minutes before use. That would not, of course, remove any surface toxins.

  • Comment number 72.

    Would I do it? No? Why not? Because it achieves the unholy trifecta hitherto only attained by Andrew Lloyd Webber: ugly, crass and pointless.

  • Comment number 73.

    It may be just an unfortunate trick of the light in the photograph of the gilded turkey but at first glance I thought it was something rotting - one of the more gross images from a CSI pathology lab came to mind. On serious consideration I think I'll pass on this one.

  • Comment number 74.

    WARNING: Colours in Food Regulations 1995 prohibit the use of E175 (gold) in foods other than "External coating of confectionery, Decoration of chocolates, Liqueurs"

    So whilst you can make what you like for yourself to eat, you couldn't sell this golden turkey.

  • Comment number 75.

    @7. At 6:50pm on 04 Dec 2010, RevJohn wrote:

    "re @06 :
    ... and any spare gold can be used to line some flutes to make the cheap bubbly stuff look all nice and glitzy.
    This, too, can be recycled for next year."

    I know this is a little late for Christmas 2010, but it might be worth saving up for this for 2011. Remember, there's less than 360 shopping days left until next Christmas...
    I'm sure the BBC doesn't like advertising, but, since this is so funny, and so apt, maybe just this once they could?
    Anyway, this is rather more festive than plain champagne, even with glded flutes.


More from this blog...

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.