The roast chicken: It’s such a clever, versatile and crowd-pleasing thing / BBC

As part of our collaboration with the BBC Good Food Show, this selection of Thanksgiving recipes provides the perfect excuse to feast before Christmas 

Our friends on the other side of the pond are celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday, and with Christmas just weeks away these recipes will give the perfect trial run for the festive feast. 

Roast chicken with crème fraîche, new potatoes and watercress 

Serves 6

My love of roast chicken is well documented. It’s such a clever, versatile and crowd-pleasing thing. Moist, sweet, salty and delicious, there are few things that deliver as much joy. This is a one-pot wonder. Into the oven it goes, leaving you free to do all those early evening chores: help with the homework, bath the children, clean up the play room, sort out the dog etc, before dinner and that vat of wine. 

1 large chicken, about 1.5kg 
200g crème fraîche 
½ lemon 
4 tsp vegetable oil 
500g new potatoes 
100g watercress 
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 200C. Season the inside of the chicken with salt and pepper, then spoon the crème fraîche into the cavity. Plug the end of the chicken with the lemon half. Rub the chicken with some of the oil, season well and then place in a roasting tin, breast up.

Roll the potatoes in the remaining oil and then scatter around the chicken. Place the chicken in the oven and roast for 1 hour 10 minutes without opening the oven door. Leave it. Pick the largest stems off the watercress and put the lot into a large bowl filled with cold water. Push the watercress under the water and place the bowl in the fridge. The clean watercress will float to the top while all the dirt will sink to the bottom. 

Take the chicken out of the oven. Pour the crème fraîche out of the chicken over the potatoes in the tin, then turn the chicken upside down onto a board and leave it to sit for 10 minutes so that all the juices flow back into the breast. It will be done. Meanwhile, place the tin over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring the potatoes around the tin so all the lovely sticky bits come off the sides of the tin and make the sauce. Take it off the heat. 

Lift the watercress out of the bowl and shake off the excess water. Put the chicken and potatoes onto a large platter, scatter over the watercress and pour yourself a congratulatory vat of wine.

Tip: Mix in root vegetables like turnips and parsnips. Add a spoonful of mustard for a bit of spice in the crème fraîche.

Recipe by John Torode. See him cooking live at BBC Good Food Show at NEC Birmingham, 24-27 November



Berry and mascarpone tarts 

These simple little tarts are just a joy. Buttery, sweet, soft and comforting – what more could you want? The key to their success is the combination of sharp yet sweet fruit and a whipped cream filling, and not being too precious about how they look. The pastry can be a bit wonky but the soft fruit is so pretty it doesn’t matter.

Makes 12 

For the pastry 

500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting 
Pinch of salt 
250g softened butter, cubed 
150g icing sugar, sifted 
4 egg yolks 
50ml water 

For the filling 

300g mascarpone 
120ml double cream 
50g caster sugar 
1 vanilla pod, slit lengthways and seeds scraped out 
2 small punnets of berries (raspberries and blackberries – or whatever is in season), washed 
1 tin of cherries in syrup, drained (200g)
You will need one 12-hole jam tart tin and a fluted cutter


Heat the oven to 200C. Sift the flour and salt onto a worktop. Make a well in the centre, add the butter and icing sugar and gently work them together with your fingertips. Add the egg yolks and gradually draw in the flour, adding drops of the water as you go, until a dough forms. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. 

On a lightly floured worktop, roll out the pastry and use a fluted cutter to cut out circles large enough to line the cups of the 12-hole jam tart tin (the cutter should be just a bit bigger than the size of a hole – normally about 6cm). Bake in the oven for 10–12 minutes – they’ll puff up in the centre. Take the tin out of the oven and push the centre down with a piece of baking paper, then put them back in the oven and bake for a further 5 minutes to cook the pastry completely. Turn the pastry cases out of their tins onto a wire rack and leave to cool.

Once the cooling process is complete, fill and top the tarts. Beat the mascarpone with the cream, sugar and vanilla seeds until fluffy. Spoon some of the filling into each tart and top with berries and cherries.

Recipe by John Torode



Ian Cumming’s Merry Berry Steam Pudding

150ml Belvoir Blackcurrant & Blueberry Cordial
150g cranberries (fresh or frozen but if frozen defrost first)
120g honey
120g unsalted butter
120g light brown sugar
Generous pinch of salt
2 large eggs
120g self-raising flour
1 tsp mixed spice
75g blueberries
1 tbsp milk

Put the cranberries and cordial in a fairly large saucepan and gently bring to the boil. Simmer for a few minutes until the cranberries have softened and quite a bit of the liquid has boiled away. Add the honey and mix it in. Butter a 1.2 litre pudding basin. Pour the berry and honey mixture into the basin. Beat the butter, sugar and salt until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each one. Sieve in the flour and the mixed spice and gently fold it in. Carefully fold in the milk and then finally the blueberries. Pour this on top of the berry mixture in the basin.

Fill a large pan with enough water to come half way up the side of the pudding bowl. Bring to the boil. Meanwhile, take a large piece of baking parchment, put a pleat in it and put it over the pudding. Then take a piece of tin foil, put a pleat in that and put that over the parchment. Tie some string around the rim and then use some extra string to make a handle in order to lift the pudding into the pan of boiling water.

Boil for 2 hours, occasionally checking that there is sufficient water in the pan. Use the string handle to remove the pudding from the pan. Snip off the string and remove the foil and parchment. Place a plate on top and carefully invert it all. Serve immediately with custard, cream or ice cream.

Recipe by Belvoir Fruit Farms who will be exhibiting at BBC Good Food Show at NEC Birmingham, 24-27 November