I was very lucky to get to visit River Cottage on the Devon/Dorset borders a couple of weeks ago for a very special Foodies100 River Cottage Christmas get together and learned all about giving your Christmas turkey the star treatment with a gin brined turkey recipe!

River Cottage

River Cottage history…

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, the multi-award-winning writer and broadcaster established River Cottage HQ in Dorset in 2004, now based at Park Farm near Axminster in Devon and has recently launched River Cottage Chefs’ School. As well as offering thirty-five different courses which include; cunning cuts, pig in a day, fishing, proper pastry and pies, gluten free cooking, Christmas bread and baking, beekeeping, cheese making, foraging and so many more at the cookery school, River Cottage also offer unique dining experiences and events, and you can also get married at there! How magical would that be as it really is such a peaceful, calm place.

River Cottage

We were treated to an afternoon and evening of cooking demonstrations, fabulous food and fun.

Have you ever brined your meat before? I have brined my turkey many moons ago but I’d never thought of brining ham (always thought it would make it too salty-I was wrong) and definitely never thought of bring a chicken…my new ‘skill’…every Sunday roast gets a dunking for a few hours now.

Gin Brined Turkey…

We were given a really informative demonstration on curing and brining meats by Senior Chef Andy Tyrrell. I will most definitely be doing a gin brined turkey this year as per this River Cottage recipe. We also got to learn how to make bresaola, usually so expensive to buy I cannot wait to make my own…it is very simple and I’ll share the recipe when I do.

Gin brined turkey lesson

And for your Christmas ham…try adding a mix of apple juice and good quality cider to the brine. Mmmmm.

An ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ style game of guess what’s in the box was played in the River Cottage yurt with a roaring fire and pretty bunting before we made our way back for dinner.

Of course the highlight of the evening was the tremendous meal we had…first there were canapés, followed by a starter, main course, dessert and then petit fours and coffee.

Food at River CottageTop L-R- Starter | Canape | Brined Chicken | Bresaola

On the menu…no getting too envious here but it was a-ma-zing…


  • pork and leek croquettes
  • pickled mussels
  • crispy rabbit on a romanesco purée

all accompanied by a Kingston Black apple aperitif


  • celeriac ravioli with wild mushrooms and leaves


  • River Cottage cider brined ham, carrot purée, fried savoy cabbage and braised beans


  • honeycomb créme brulée with apple purée and apple crisps

Yes we had to be rolled out of River Cottage at the end of the evening.

Food at River Cottage

dessert-at-river-cottage-cherishedbyme-comWe had an amazing time at River Cottage, I’m planning my gin brined turkey and my cider soaked ham, and the wine infused bresaola as I write. The staff were fabulous and made our day so special. If you fancy trying out a class there you can…

Find out more…

For more information you can find River Cottage on Instagram,  Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter.

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A River Cottage Christmas





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