Goose, we have goose. As it happens though maybe you can all settle an office debate from yesterday.
Fellow residents of Great Britain;
Yorkshire puds with Xmas dinner. Yes or no?
Boozing in the morning, blazing family rows in the afternoon, and passing out in front of the telly – trousers unbuttoned – by 5pm. All of these are annual traditions of Christmas but when it comes to dinner, what makes the perfect festive nosh? Everyone has their own take on Yuletide overindulgence, and inevitably something …
@rmason "We bang them in the oven while the meat is resting"
I usually take the meat out and put it in a cool box to rest, so it stays piping hot, then I can fill the oven up with roasties, parsnips, yorkies and probably some dauphinoise spuds. As for the chap saying there isn't room for yorkies,... who says it all has to go on your plate at the same time? I'll often have a round two and have a different selection of veg. I mean, if it all fits on, clearly you've skimped on the veg. :- )
You're right. Food engineering is an underrated skill.
For example, when eating bangers mash 'n' beans it is vital that none of the bean juices should be allowed to contaminate the lovely, buttery mash! So you have to build a damn of sausages, to hold back the bean lake. But of course you then need to start eating your sausage-dam - it's a very delicate bit of work.
This becomes even more important work when tackling sausage and chips, where the crispiness of the chips cannot be allowed to be compromised! And worse, you need a clear space on the plate for some ketchup to dip your chips into.
However, I prefer my yorkshires to hit my mouth while still crispy. So I tend to prop them precariously on an altar of roast potatoes, keeping them high and dry. Then I cut my brussels in half, to allow them to be dunked face down in the gray, giving them a chance to absorb a bit before consumption.
Christmas eve or Christmas Day lunch/dinner? These are different.
The traditional fare for the Xmas dinner is fish and to be more exact freshwater fish if possible. The meat festivities in theory should start the next day.
The switch to meat on Xmas eve is a protestant thing (just to make a point and p*ss off the Catholics). It also became something of a necessity as most of the freshwater fish went extinct or seriously toxic in Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries.
So if you know how to get your mitts on a carp and how to cook it the right choice for Xmas eve oven is Carp (we should thank the Polish for it reappearing on the supermarket fish counters at Xmas). Goose or Duck comes the day after - to complete the clogging of the arteries.
We don't do it for reasons of tradition etc.
We do it because we both love goose and prefer it to turkey.
Don't fret though, we have a turkey too. Some of the guests prefer it to goose, and I prefer to cook one because I thoroughly enjoy it on sandwiches and in soup and pie.
The goose is brilliant, but there's never much to speak of by way of leftovers. So for that and for the odd picky guest, I always do a turkey too.
1 pine board
fresh carp, 14 to 20 ",long
spices, of choice
Scale and rinse fish well.
Cut in 1/2 and place on pine board.
Add your favorite spices.
Bake at 340* for 90 minutes.
Remove from oven, throw carp away.
Serve board with or without tarter sauce.
Up-vote for the goose, once you've tried it the idea of going back to a dry tasteless turkey is just soul destroying. Plus you get all that lovely fat for the roast potatoes.
Haven't tried Yorkshire puds with Christmas dinner before, but I can see the attraction, might try and work it in this year as a trial. After all if you're not willing to experiment you could end up stuck with turkey every year <shudder>.
If you know how to cook turkey & have a decent oven & a good turkey (fresh, not frozen, outdoor reared so decent flesh quality) then Turkey can be moist & well flavoured but it's easy to badly screw up (a few tips from my local butcher sorted me out, until then my turkey cooking had been very hit or miss on the "dryness" front)
Goose is far easier to cook as its much less prone to going dry.
Yorkshire puds are mandatory for all "meat & veg" meals (including "trad" Xmas meal)
Sprouts are an individual choice, my sprout choice is NNNNOOOOO!
These days alas it's nut roast, non proper gravy, & roast veg done in veg oils as my Xmas meal will be spent with veggies and vegans :-(
On the plus side, as no meat involved, then I am absolved of any cooking duties so no need for sobriety
Total agree. Freshly-slaughtered turkey is world of difference from the high-street muck. Smothered with cured bacon.
Goose-fat roast potatoes
Self-caramelised carrots and parsnips
Small amount of Brussel sprouts, 'cos you have to .. tradition innit?
Fresh beans or mangetout plus peas
After many years of disappointments - Debbie and Andrew's chipolata sausages
Home-made Gravy with giblets etc (none of this Bisto stuff) , bread sauce, redcurrant jelly, home-made cranberry and Madeira and brandy and port sauce (teenagers start to get squiffy).
Fortnum's Beer & Chilli Mustard plus various Trucklement pickles. You have not lived until you have tried their Beer & Chilli Mustard.
Fortnum's "King George" Christmas Pudding - tradition with silver thruppennies. Prizes given for broken teeth.
+1/4 bottle of brandy to ignite (more tradishun)
brandy butter and brandy cream (steady now) with Cinnamon ice-cream.
Plus various chocolate additions, Christmas crackers, teenagers with grudges that have built up over the past year ("Dad gave you first serving last year, It is sooo not fair!")
Since I have been up since well before 8 am doing the entire feast, in order that El Hefe can have lock the bedroom against said marauding teenagers and she can have several more hours sleep, I tend to be in a state of collapse around 2 hours after HM Queen's speech and wake up just in time to:
1) Get the replay of HM Queen's speech
2) Realise that there is no Cognac left
3) Realise that there is no wine left and I will have to go down to the cellar
4) It's that or Drambuie.
5) Drink glass of Drambuie. Open bottle-shaped Christmas present from my parents and realise it is the same bottle of plonk I regifted to them last year that they have given me the year before.
6) Drink glass of plonk and realise why I gave it to them.
7) Bed while everyone else (including dogs) is snoring.
To quote the late, great Raymond Briggs, Happy Blooming Christmas to you.
Dry turkey just means that it's been cooked for too long, pick a good bird and cook it properly, with a meat thermometer, it won't be dry.
Goose is excellent, but very big for the amount of meat you get, so you do need a big oven. For the goose enthusiasts I'd recommend heading to one of the more northern European countries around St. Martin's day (early November). Goose is the traditional Martinmas meal, I had excellent goose in Prague las month, where restaurants have special goose menus with multiple goose dishes. And beer, or course.
"These days alas it's nut roast, non proper gravy, & roast veg done in veg oils as my Xmas meal will be spent with veggies and vegans :-("
That's annoying. They'd expect special treatment for themselves if invited to a non-veggies house, so why should they not do you the same favour in return? :-)
you could end up stuck with turkey every year
This year for Chrstmas day it's going to be duck, turkey and guinea-fowl 3-bird roast and then once my nephew arrives (after Boxing Day) it's a Beef Wellington.
Hmmm.. beef wellington..
 Renowned for the amount of food he can put away. With no signs of gaining weight. I keep telling him that, one day, all those extra calories are going to catch up with him and he'll double in weight overnight..
You have to keep an eye on the fat yes, but it's always easily contained within a roasting tray under the bird. If memory serves we normally empty it once half way though, but that was for peace of mind rather than necessity.
Mainly gets emptied to avoid to many "BCBs" (thanks, Sir Terry) in the fat we will use for the roast potatoes.
And isn't a problem with goose that your kitchen ends up ankle deep in goose fat?
This is a feature, not a bug. You need to have the bird on a rack above a tray/tin you can remove and drain the fat from - and it's worth doing a couple of times during the cook - so you can use a smaller one.
But you then have lovely, lovely goose fat.
Of course people have commented on how lovely this makes the chrimbo roast potatoes. True, but don't forget how yummy it also makes the roast parsnips.
But, the most important thing is what it does to the Boxing Day (or Christmas week brunch) bubble and squeak! Bubble and squeak is a nice way to get rid of left over veg that you'd otherwise be chucking away or dumping into soup. It's also great with cold meat, that you'll have a lot of lying around.
However, bubble and squeak made with goose fat is amazing!
Christmas dinner is all about the leftovers. My brother actually cooks one turkey, and a turkey crown. That way he's got enough to feed the 18 of us who'll be eating him out of house and home on Christmas Day, and enough left to make turkey curry, which is apparently his new year tradition. Plus bones and leftovers for soup. I'm doing Boxing Day and will roast a huge ham as the centrepiece for a buffet - that's mostly about consuming vast quantities of that and then soaking up lots and lots of afternoon port with cheese and biccies.
Yorkshire pudding is a fine option, but too much hassle I think. As cook, you've got enough on your plate. Though that may just be my family, and the fact that I've never had Christmas Dinner with fewer than 11 other people. People who say it's just for beef are being very silly indeed.
You've got to have sprouts, peas, pigs in blankets, lots of stuffing, sausagemeat, roast tatties and snarpips, crambo sauce, though bread sauce is also nice. Turkey for us (again large family), but goose is lovely if you don't have too many people. Turkey needn't be dry, if you butter and bacon it - and my brother has a magic oven with a steam setting - that makes all meat incredibly tender. But a small pot of boiling water chucked in a couple of times during cooking will also work well.
As I've got older, and less greedy, I eat less and less on Christmas day. So no starters, no pudding (how can you face it?). Just bubbly and samosas/pakoras/bhajis for brekkie, while opening presents.
@that's just what actual Sparticus would say
While goose is the star of the day for us we cook a turkey as well for similar reasons. not enough leftovers on a goose, and a couple of family members who either prefer turkey of are "xmas=turkey" folk.
I prefer goose on the day, but i'm a huge fan of all the soups and pies a turkey provides in the following days.
I'm a huge fan of goose but all the same turkey is (or at least can be) much better than it is getting credit for here.
Just as is the case for chicken you have to spend what seems an obscene amount to get a good one because the economic benefits of rubbish ones are huge but once you have splurged a bit you've got a high quality product that tastes of something, as is the case for all geese in my experience. If geese were subject to the same sort of farming methods I suspect you could produce something equally as insipid as the average turkey.
As well as the reduced cooking time that the higher end turkeys require, three things contribute hugely to the issue of dryness* protecting the breast meat (bacon over, butter under the skin is my preference, but some time cooked upside down is something I've seen done with good results), not stuffing the bird so that you get it cooked through before it dries out, and giving it a proper resting time so that it reabsorbs juices.
Roast spuds and parsnips are essential (not fussed about honey as parsnips are sweet anyway), as are sprouts. All other veg optional but I almost always have carrots, some roast onion and garlic, mashed and / or boiled spuds, some red cabbage, and something else green for sproutophobes.
Cranberry sauce or redcurrant, not bothered which, bread sauce, mustard, and gravy.
Christmas pudding (on fire at some point), brandy or rum butter, cream, and custard. Ice cream if there's some around, ditto any other pudding-friendly dairy product (I have family in Normandy so Isigny creme fraiche usually arrives).
Cheese (all the cheese - a full-on England v France cheese-off), chutney and token salad leaves before (French style) and after (British style) pudding and at all points from then on anyone feels they have any interior space that doesn't need filling with cake (fed with at least one bottle of spirits over the course of maturation), mince pies (my mum's no no one's), or chocolate ("Quality" Street, or whatever gets gifted).
Fizz (with or without orange juice, blackcurrant liqueur etc) to start, lots of red wine with the roast, preposterous dessert wines with pudding, whiskey, whisky, Armagnac/Cognac, sherry, coffee, more red wine etc from then on
All of this commencing some time after 14:00 with some manner of keeping wolves from doors prior to that (my folks like foie gras which my mum does make very well, and which does justify another addition to the wine list to accompany it so . . .).
Crackers with silly hats and jokes also required.
Obviously all of this is subject to change if something blows up or burns down or if someone has a good idea or it turns out everyone though someone else was taking care of some part of other of proceedings.
Proper eating starts on Boxing day when leftovers are rolled out along with a ham, and people can get on with bubble & squeak, ridiculous sandwiches, slices of cold gravy etc
*I actually like a bit of dryness to the meat - it works better in sandwiches and justifies what might otherwise be considered an undignified amount of gravy
Eww. Parsnips are the devils toenail clippings and are only suitable to be fed to food.
Cranberries, although really tasty, have the unfortunate property of making my arthritis go into very high gear (much like cochineal) and so (if I want to move without pain for several days afterwards) is to be avoided.
Which also means that any pre-prepared 'Christmas Dinner' type foods like the paninis in various coffee shops also have to be avoided as they inevitably contain cranberry.
hmmm, never tasted goose but somehow it doesn't attract me
brussel sprouts .... ugh
turkey.... too dry
mince pies... not to my taste
yorkshire puds... meh
I love Christmas. In fact I love it so much that I want a gorgeously tasty meal on Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day, and all points between and around. So stuff tradition and what Victorian England would eat because that was what they could get. I want what I like, and miracles of modern logistics allow me a world of food choices.
And alcohol of course, in copious amounts
Yorkshire puds a yes from me. Never had them with christmas dinner growing up, but as far as I'm concerned no roast dinner is complete without them. One of the things my (non-british) missus loves most about the UK is roast dinners (and one's we've rustled up for her folks go like a house on fire) so christmas is a great excuse to spend half the day in a kitchen pushing out the gravy boat (assuming you like cooking of course).
Starter tends to be about three hours before the main meal and is mostly just something light to stop you getting hammered from the first round of wine. Smoked salmon on toast, some pastry tartlets, smoked mackerel paté on crackers, mushroom arancini went down very well last year, that sort of thing. Couple of glasses of champagne or prosecco to line the stomach and protect from the rest of the wine that's consumed whilst finishing off the main course.
Goose is a great choice, although in my household we tend to alternate with different meat or game over the years (never been much of a fan of turkey). We're lucky enough to have an excellent butcher so this year we're having partridges, last year we had a brace of pheasants, the year before that we had grouse. Then a good few litres of a homemade gravy suited to the meat (white wine or madeira with chicken stock for most poultry, red wine with juice from the meat for most game, often with redcurrant jelly and crushed juniper). Cover it in bacon, pack the roasting tin with quartered onions, chipolatas, bacon/stuffing rolls, pigs in blankets as per preference. When the meat is done and out of the oven, the roasting tin is de-glazed and then added to the gravy, then the batter for the yorkshire (usually with a generous spoonful of bicarb to help fluff it up and get the top/edges nice and crispy) is poured into the roasting tin and cooked in the 15-20mins whilst the meat sits. Some extra fat will be added if the meat didn't leave much in the way of juices.
We'll generally do a roast beef joint in the preceding week to get fresh beef dripping for the roast veg (unless of course we're cooking goose or duck).
About five hours later we manage to have some christmas pud (the fruit for which has usually been macerating in rum and spices for the past four months).
Any leftovers veg are turned into boxing day bubble'n'squeak, leftover meat is typically recycled into a meat/game pie (we make a sort of hybrid shortcrust/suet crust pastry for this) with any leftover gravy.
In a word: yum.
Yorkshires, roasties, game with wine and juniper gravy, game pies and bubble and squeak with left-overs. Mmmmmmm.
You haven't got any spare seats round your table have you?
I've always loved the eating at Christmas. It's not just about the day. As kids, when my parents didn't have much, there was always good things to eat that we didn't normally get. And that lasted throughout the holiday.
As an adult, when I can afford things I like, it's more about having the time and inclination to do interesting things. And eat the stuff I might deem too unhealthy. Though I'll be at my brother's on Christmas day, I'm doing a smaller family Boxing Day all-day buffet. That'll generate left-overs to feed me, and I'll have friends over for a roast to get more. That and a bit of smoked salmon will have me sorted for brunches and nice dinners I can pick at, with a glass of wine in front of the telly.
I think the other luxury is a week of lunches at home. Stuff you can take to work is never going to be as nice as spending twenty minutes making the perfect smoked salmon and scrambled eggs - with bread I baked the day before. Oh and why not a glass of bubbles to go with it? It's Christmas!
Sadly I've only got the one oven (and it's a well rehearsed juggling act getting everything for the main course ready at the same time) so this is usually just a meal for me, the good lady and any friends nearby who would otherwise be on their own
Indeed, the extended holiday is a perfect opportunity to stick a pin in to some of those recipe books on the shelf and say "yup, why not?", hence why my take on christmas dinner is substantially different from that of my family.
I don't even think feasts like this are even that expensive, at least in terms of money; pound for pound our butcher provides significantly better quality meat than the supermarket for less money, but sadly butchers of this sort are few and far between and I realise that many people out there only have the supermarkets to choose from these days - personally I was over the moon when I found out my new digs had a butcher 10mins bike ride away, and that's when we started buying new and different stuff for christmas dinner.
Mostly I think the expense is time and cooking ability (my mum had me cooking from an early age as part of the "you're out the house at 18 whether you like it or not and I don't want you starving to death/eating nothing but kebabs" plan), and for most big families with kids and that, meals as complicated as this might be punching above your weight, but I certainly feel it's worth the effort if you do have the time. Certainly I'd rather spend 6 hours on christmas day making a delicious meal with the missus rather than five hours in front of the telly and one hour doing a pre-prepared bland turkey* meal.
I forgot to mention sprouts and stuffing properly. I don't like boiled sprouts much at all, even when they're cooked well, but when they're raw and shredded and cooked in the bubble and squeak** they're very tasty indeed. Same with spinach, turns to horrible mush IMHO when boiled, steamed or wilted but is rather tasty raw.
Stuffing tends to be based off of out butcher's sausage meat (although we will make venison stuffing when cooking something very strongly flavoured like grouse - this was a recommendation from the butcher himself and he was not wrong!) often with roast chestnuts and dried apricots plus whatever herbs we feel will go well, along with goodly portions of fresh breadcrumbs, lemon juice and finely diced onions (sometimes caremelised in sugar and vermouth depending on the meat).
Needless to say I always look forward to celebrating the yuletide feast :)
* not that turkey has to be bland, but personally I think it takes too much effort to make turkey interesting, and it's too big and unwieldy for small gatherings of 4-5 people. Cooking with small birds takes up less space in the oven, takes less time to cook and is simpler to cook to boot.
** that reminds me - found some guanciale at the deli last weekend, used it in place of the usual bacon/pancetta for making some spaghetti carbonara. Utterly delicious stuff - it's like cooking with ready-smoked fat. This year's bubble and squeak will likely contain guanciale.
I've personally never cooked a turkey, as I've not tried roast for more than 8 people (my table isn't big enough) - and never done the family Christmas dinner. Where with 18 of us, turkey is a very convenient option.
I don't ever remember the turkey being particularly dry - so I don't know what people are doing to them. Or maybe my family are just good at it? Mum always put a tiny amount of stuffing in the bird, to keep that moist, but in order to cook it quicker she'd do most of the stuffing (now called non-stuffing?) outside - so that there was plenty to go around. Brother has a steam oven - which helps, but makes pork melt-in-the-mouth beautiful. I already put a container of water in the oven when baking bread, so there's no reason not to do it with turkey.
But it needn't be that expensive either. I always hit as many of the supermarkets as I can manage on Christmas Eve - and there's usually lots of bargainacious things. I'm doing a cold roast ham on Boxing Day (yum!) with an all-day buffet, so people can pick at it. Some planned, but at least half of that is going to consist of things that look interesting and/or cheap. As long as there's a huge ham, and lots of cheese and biscuits, the rest will look after itself. And then there'll be good stuff for me.
I think the time is as much the luxury as the food. You're not going on holiday. There are few plans. So there's time to cook nice things. I'll have friends over, and cook for them too.
Turkey's a bit of a tricky double whammy for dryness because it tends to not be as fatty as a chicken, and being much bigger it requires cooking for considerably longer. Hence it needs probably more fat added to the bird than perhaps most people are used to (esp. if you treat it like a chicken) - when doing turkey we'd generally slather the bird in butter and then lay about 12 rashers of streaky over it. It's also important to have a fat-heavy stuffing (e.g. more sausagemeat than usual).
When cooking it we'd cook it for half an hour at gas mark 8 to cook the outside and get the fat melted as quickly as possible, and then put the bird in a tinfoil hat at gas 5 for the rest of the cooking time, and thus you end up with a nice succulent turkey.
For what it's worth, most of our stuffing usually gets done outside of the birds as well, but only because stuffing is hugely popular in our household (to the extent that we'll have cold stuffing sarnies in the following days) so we always make twice as much as normal.
I've never had a "wild" turkey, but a family member keeps chickens and I've had the immense pleasure of eating a genuinely free-range chicken from their back garden. Vastly different in taste and texture (gamier and much more "meaty" in the mouth) from the sort of chicken you'd buy in a shop and stonkingly delicious.
I come from a small family so we've never had more than a meal for 6 but I think I'd need two ovens to deal with 8 or more people.
"Starter tends to be about three hours before the main meal... Smoked salmon on toast, some pastry tartlets, smoked mackerel paté on crackers, mushroom arancini went down very well last year, that sort of thing."
Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs (with cream added) with brown (Granary or similar) toast has been my Christmas Day breakfast for over 20 years now.
How long is it to lunch time?
P.S. A Definite Yes to Yorkshire puds. As pointed out above, they are in the oven while the meat is resting.
Cant stand turkey and theres no room in the aga for another bird . However I do keep my own pigs and there will be plenty of proper sausages (bacon wrapped ones are fine as a side) and enough room in the aga to put some toad in the hole. Which will be all mine - everyone will want some because turkey is for sheep and not really greedy bastards like me but they can fuck off with their traditional organic bronzed well basted gardening string.
Seems the Aztecs favourite food was turkey - I can see why they just gave up when the Spanish arrived.
I agree totally.
Because I don't think I'd have much appetite for what I anticipate yorkshire puddings would be like when I pull them out of my lunch box somewhere in the Brecon Beacons, the Marlborough Downs, or wherever else I decide to go on Christmas Day.
Plus I'm not sure if they'd go with my actual meal that day - typically ham sandwiches and other things you might find in a packed lunch.
bird-within-a-bird? Sounds nice but probably tastes fowl.
Turkey for me, cooked upside down for half then right side up with loads of bacon and butter, all the usual trimmings, none of this posh cranberry sauce stuff, and last but not least lovely lovely gravy. Undecided on the Yorkshire puddings though.
After all that I have a big Christmas log.
Yes! What the previous generation would have considered undercooking is the secret to palatable sprouts. And indeed most veg.
I realise I'm probably just lacking a good old fashioned war with plenty of rationing to reset my food gratitude levels but what the previous generation would have considered undercooking is the secret to palatable sprouts. And indeed most veg.
I'm cooking christmas dinner for the in laws this year and the mother in laws house. The other week the wife asked (in front of the mother) "What are we having for starters?". I immediately said "Prawn cocktail". Imagine my shock when I see the faces of both of them crunch up in disgust. "PRAWN COCKTAIL!? NO! We're having pate". Cook your own bloody dinner then.
One tradition which I used to do with my old man would be to go for a drive around for an hour while my mom cooked the dinner. It was nice really, he would drive around (then I would when I passed my test) and just listening to old Irish songs on the CD player. They're unique memories really as I don't know anyone else who does that. I still do it now, albeit on my own.
If you're looking for something new to do christmas day, then I can highly recommend doing that with your own choice of music.
I used to go to the pub with my old man, get drunk and time it just right so the dinner didn't end up in the dog
I remember one Christmas where I headed to the pub with my Dad, we returned after a few pints to find that he had been expected to trim the turkey earlier in the day. Words were exchanged, and he decided to do it on the spot. Fortunately the subsequent damage only required elastoplast, and not a visit to A&E. Didn't seem to spoil the turkey either.
...he would drive around (then I would when I passed my test) and just listening to old Irish songs on the CD player.
Betcha listened to your namesake - the Wolfe Tones. Often used to come across them in the CD shops when looking for Scottish Highlands band Wolfstone :)
And, yes, I do know who Wolfe Tone was...
"Betcha listened to your namesake - the Wolfe Tones. Often used to come across them in the CD shops when looking for Scottish Highlands band Wolfstone :)
And, yes, I do know who Wolfe Tone was..."
You got me! Started off with a tape of a live recording they did, upgraded it to a CD version of them later on when he got a new car that didn't have a tape deck. It's been upgraded even further now through iPod's and iPhone's etc.
So, we normally have the following to feed the assembled hordes:
Chicken (as it's much moister than turkey) with streaky bacon laid over the breast, and cooked as a crown.
Pigs in blankets (cocktail sausages wrapped in bacon, for those not aware of the term).
Roasted carrot and parsnip coated in honey.
Roast potatoes done in goose fat.
Sprouts, boiled and then mixed with chestnuts and lightly fried in butter.
We don't do peas, or any other green veg.
Gravy, made from the legs and wings of the chicken boiled and reduced down.
Sage and Onion stuffing.
Redcurrant Jelly, not Cranberry sauce.
Then Christmas Pud with double cream, not custard, about 2 hours after the main course...
Christmas cake and mince pies may appear in the evening, as we argue over the family jigsaw...
Clotted cream is lovely, but not right for Christmas pudding.
this is because the correct dose of Christmas pudding is a third of a bowl. You then need about half that in brandy butter - and fill the bowl up with cream. You should not be able to see any pud above the cream line, only a bit floating brandy butter. This is because Christmas pud absorbs / drinks the cream as fast as you can eat it. And you wouldn't want to run out...
I don't particuarly like mince pies - but what you can't see (because it's been sunk in cream) can't hurt you. Also the correct ratio between the mince pies and the brandy butter is 1:1. But you only start eating those when you've run out of Christmas pudding.
Rodda's clotted cream
One of my wife's ancestors was of the Rodda clan (well - Phillips-Rodda to be precise). I still think that she should have applied for free clotted cream for life. As long as it comes with saffron loaf!
 She sometimes has it on her breakfast cereal. Apparently, it sticks the small pieces together nicely. Personally it makes my teeth itch!
"Erm, why not walk around the block rather than drive? Much more healthy and a smaller CO2 footprint. Cars use more fuel in the cold too."
I'm sure with everyone cooking their Turkey's in gas ovens on Christmas Day my car is going to tip the CO2 footprint over the edge!
Besides, Christmas CO2 doesn't count. Same with Calories.
Heathen! BIte your tongue for daring to breathe such heresy! Well I suppose your fingers, as you typed it...
Yorkshire puddings are not just for beef. They're for life!
If you've got the oven on to roast stuff, then you can cook yorkshires. Also if you're making gravy then they're an excellent vehicle for using it up. So basically go with any roast. The only reason I don't do them all the time is oven space, laziness and not wanting to be too greedy.
Toad-in-the-hole is brilliant as well. Though is immeasurably improved with onion gravy, which is probably more effort to cook than the toad-in-the-hole itself.
Should only be consumed with gravy*. The meat comes in the next course. It doesn't matter what sort of meat it is. I don't know where this strange idea that it should be beef came from. Probably some southern idea.
* This is not strictly true. It can also be sprinkled with sugar as a desert but not at Christmas.
1. xmas eve. I prepare veg, drink lots of dry martinis. Smoked trout or salmon at dinner, crusty bread, and a hopefully very good dry white. Kings College on the telly. Pass out on sofa by 9.
2. xmas day. I cook (one year the Mrs had a tantrum, so easier to do it myself). Turkey, all the trimmings, and crucially, about 3 times the volume of everything (see point 3 below). Evening, something light, usually just a prawn cocktail (tradition from the Mrs previous life). Pissed again I'm afraid, couple of bottles at lunch, and samples of boozy gifts. Pass out on sofa by 9.
3. Boxing day. Bubble and squeak, cold meat, leftover stuffing and leftover pigs in blankets. My personal favourite meal. Afternoon walk. Probably pissed again, pass out on sofa by 9.
And crucially : nuclear family only please. The rest of them can piss off.
Congratulations! Yours is the only other comment I've seen to mention the vital subject of left-overs and the Boxing Day bubble and squeak!
Sadly I no longer have access to left-overs, because the whole family eat at my brother's. So I'm forced to invite friends over a day or so after Boxing Day in order to cook for them, generate some left-overs and allow me the delights of bubble and squeak towards New Year.
I disagree on the nuclear family bit though. But then we've always had huge family Christmases, so I've never done it.
The other important thing is the port cheese and biscuits evening. Pro tip - if at some point you've made mulled wine for people (and you should) then slice a couple of apples and chuck them in. They flavour the wine nicely. Fish them out and drain them, nobody wants that stuff in their glass. Put in the fridge. Then serve alongside your cheeseboard. A large cracker, some aged cheddar and a slice of purple mulled-wine-soaked apple is absolute heaven. Washed down with a large
glass bottle of port.
I'm not an alcoholic either. I've got 8 bottles of whisky in my bar, vodka, gins and rums (various), tequila and triple sec (for margaritas), and then a few cases of wine and port in the spare room.
If I was an alcoholic I'd have drunk them all already.
Having a bar doesn't make me an alcoholic does it?
"I'm not an alcoholic either. I've got 8 bottles of whisky in my bar, vodka, gins and rums (various), tequila and triple sec (for margaritas), and then a few cases of wine and port in the spare room.
If I was an alcoholic I'd have drunk them all already.
Having a bar doesn't make me an alcoholic does it?"
I've the same collection as you (bar the tequila and triple sec) and the wife accuses me of being an alcholic. I, too, pointed out that if I was an alcoholic the 1 litre bottle of Penderyn whisky I bought over a year ago would've been gone by now, but I've most of it left.
She wasn't happy with that retort! Especially as I said cheers to her as I started drinking my pint of Malibu and Pineapple.
We've not had turkey for years. I think she's making lamb this year.
Yorkshires are mandatory. As are peas.
We also have an enormous full english in the morning and have Christmas dinner at tea time. Black pudding, cumberland/lincolnshire sausages, etc, although that particular discussion's been done to death on another article.
And I don't mean have a nut-roast instead.
It's just that the fowl (usually turkey) is the most boring bit. Ideal Xmas dinner is:
Roasties (done the way Auntie Delia says)
A couple of boiled new spuds
Pigs in blankets
Maybe some carrots
These days I might be persuaded by a few small sweet parsnips as well.
And blazing pud + brandy butter to follow.
We've decided to be different this year. As we all much prefer the left-overs to the actual roast dinner we're doing a buffet. It will include turkey (although we usually have cockerel), beef, Yorkshires, pigs in blankets, stuffings, bread sauce, etc. plus fresh bread and butter. People can make sandwiches, or whatever, as takes their fancy and it can mostly be prepared in advance.
I believe the plan this year was to duck in laurel(bayleaf) - apricot - red wine sauce. The dried apricots are not very sweet, and the bayleaf adds another bit of tartness.
Served with small potatoes in peel and assorted vegetables. For fun romanesco instead of cauliflower/broccoli.
Around here the traditional dish is rabbit in vinegar, but not my favourite
"rabbit in vinegar"
Double shudder (one for the vinegar). Once a term the hall of residence menu was rabbit. It consisted mostly of bony shrapnel, ribs and vertebrae. In the succeeding half century I've never considered it to be an edible foodstuff. The other once a term horror was macaroni cheese which somehow had achieved a density approximating to that of osmium.
Rabbit's great if treated right - not much flavour of its own so it can handle a strong sauce with something like juniper (is this enough of an IT angle?).
Eat it like a small game bird (is this enough of a Carry On angle?) being prepared for lots of bones and possibly some shot.
Still, Christmas meat? Not for me Clive. And none of that vinegar neither.
Rabbit is highly underrated. Yes its got lots of little bones and you need to use your fingers but - but - chips!! Some of the best meals I've had have been in country kitchens in far off lands that add rabbit to four or five other ingredients. Probably not a chrismas meal - cant hold the crackers with grease coated fingers but I'd do a Mr Creosote on it.
Once a term the hall of residence menu was rabbit
<Shudder>. My mum used to cook that when I was a kid. She was brilliant on cakes and the like, not so much on the savoury stuff. Mind you, she had 5 of us to feed on not very much money and bunnies were cheap and plentiful. Some of them were possibly even wild ones..
My household is vegetarian so we basically roast one sprout.
Then we throw it away because sprouts
Then we cook up a buffet and eat throughout the day all kinds of tapas snacks.
However the one thing that I think we can all agree on is Christmas isn't Christmas without the largest amount of cheese ever!
Parents long dead, siblings that fell out with each other and haven't spoken for 15+ years.
That and no family myself means a gluttony free quiet Christmas.
When a student, spent one Christmas in digs alone & had baked bean curry (hot Madras), followed by cheese & biscuits washed down with Port. Didn't get much revision done that day...
Might go for the all day breakfast after a bike ride or walk if roads too icy. :-)
I remember buying an All Day Breakfast frozen meal from Tesco a few years ago out of curiosity. As I stood by the microwave watching it get nuked, I noted that it said the sausages were 14%. But I couldn't work out whether that meant they had 14% pork content or were 14% of the meal.
Over the next month I went back and forth to Tesco over email asking about this, and literally no one at Tesco could tell me what the 14% referred to.
%age on sausages is usually fat content. 14% is crap, good ones are 5%.Actually it's your assertion that's crap Phil O Sophical. Anything less than 20% is dry and tasteless unless they contain a fat substitute. "Premium" sausages average 20- 25% fat and 60-65% lean. Your 5% fat sausages would contain far too much cereal.
Perhaps you're a traditionalist and nothing but turkey will do
Turkey is not that traditional seeing as it comes from the New World. It became popular because it's much easier to factory farm and you get a much bigger yield on a flightless bird: geese are big but there's much less eating on them.
Turkey is suitable for larger meals and is easier to cook than goose. For a smaller meal, however, nothing wrong with trying something different: had partridge a few years ago and really liked it. If the wallet can stretch to it, try and get free range as it generally tastes much better.
Regarding sprouts – a lot of people seem to have a degree of brassica intolerance made on by only eating cabbages a couple of times a year but everyone else tends to love them as long as they're not overcooked. Or microwaved, as my mum tries to do all the veg!
> Regarding sprouts ... as long as they're not overcooked.
My view too. I reckon that the people who dislike sprouts are simply doing them wrong.
Prepare them and the carrots at the same time. Toss 'em all in the same pot. Bring to the boil and then down to a simmer. When the carrots are done (soft but firm), the sprouts are, too.
We normally feed not only our immediate family but also various neighbours who would otherwise be on their own (either as couples or individuals). As my mum has grown more fragile (she's now over 80) I have taken over the cooking duties, but the basic fare has not changed much:
Starter - Raymond Blanc's Tartare of Marinated Wild Salmon with Cucumber Salad (http://www.hub-uk.com/foodpages33/1617.htm)
Main - Roast turkey, boiled ham, roast belly pork Italian style. pigs in blankets (all locally sourced); roast potatoes, pureed garlic parsnip, sautéed sprouts.
Interstitial - Chardonnay sorbet (clears the palate and revives the appetite)
Dessert - Traditional Christmas Pudding (made by mum a couple of weeks ago) and chocolate & chestnut roulard
Then it's push back from the table, and nibble on cheese, biscuits, nuts, dates etc. ANd keep the port circulating freely!
For us Christmas lunch is normally on the table around 1.30; we are usually still sat round talking, nibbling and drinking at 5.30...
Whatever you have I hope it is enjoyable, peaceful and stress-free.
Happy Christmas to all!
Some years ago:
Goose in oven. Switch on. Bang! & shower of sparks. Oven element blown.
SWMBO took goose round to her sister to supervise start of cooking there whilst I got online to place an order there and then for two replacement elements, instituting an N+1 redundancy plan. Sister and husband brought cooked goose with them later.
N+1 plan vindicated on more than one occasion since then, once again about Christmas but not AFAICR on Christmas morning. I think if we ever bought a new oven I'd order a replacement element at the same time.
But a few years ago the fan motor also went TITSUP* shortly before Christmas, fortunately in time to get a replacement. BiL roped in to help get the oven out if its housing on the basis that his dinner depended on it.
*Total Inability To Spin Up
My brother was once cooking a roast for a the whole family for a birthday. The oven door glass exploded for some reason. All outwards, and the meat was covered. But ovens turn out not to work so well if they've got a bloody great hole in the door, even if you've temporarily gaffer-taped some wood over it...
Was this karma? After all, it was roast horse, brought back from a trip to France.
You want a bang? - had a similar situation where the glass in the oven door exploded Xmas morning before lunch was due to be started.... Turkey and spuds round to my sister's to be cooked with frequent calls to coordinate the hob cooked elements. Roast spuds warmed by re-frying on the hob (journey time between houses - 10-15 mins) and all was well.
One hell of a bang though - just glad it went before we had put the meat in.
Oh and I'm not spatacus' brother.......
Costly & takes up space but a dual oven cooker is worth the hassle, especially for Xmas meals that are heavy on oven cooking as allows different temperatures in the 2 ovens which can be v. useful for things that can be dry if overdone (elements do die, but very, very unlikely for both ovens to die on same day)
but a dual oven cooker is worth the hassle
Come the Great and Glorious Day of the Great Kitchen Reworking (which will happen once the boss works out what she wants done) I've put my foot down for a decent hob with as many wok-rings as can fit in the space..
(I do all the frying and anything that involves hot oil that isn't roasting.. so any Chinese or Indian dishes are my province and I'm sick of my woks slipping off the standard burner-covers.. And no, I don't want an induction hob. They don't heat woks properly)
 Woks should be heated up the sides as well as on the base.
I've got a ceramic hob, and it's surprisingly good. If you turn one down to simmer you may need to keep stirring for another 20 seconds, so not as responsive as gas - but it's fine. And I've got no gas services in my road, so tough luck.
But I just can't cook chinese food. The damned things have thermostats, so you can't get the wok hot enough to cook stuff properly, which means you can't get the right texture, and everything's overcooked.
I suppose you can just about bodge an egg fried rice and that's nice with sweet and sour pork (which you deep-fry anyway - but not much else works. Boo!
But I just can't cook chinese food. The damned things have thermostats, so you can't get the wok hot enough to cook stuff properly, which means you can't get the right texture, and everything's overcooked.So get a wok-burner and run it off a propane bottle. Easy peasy...
Ah, but if you can't see them because the bowl is full of cream, and you've added enough brandy butter - then all you can taste is brandy butter and cream.
I'd say why not just miss out the mince pies, but it would be a waste to throw them away.
Also, you can now buy nice ones. Supermarket best brand ones actually have detectable levels of booze in them. And briefly heated in the oven beforehand also improves them.
We've generally not had a quiet christmas around here. Either we've a couple branches of family in for dinner or we've had heards of friends in. Usually 12 to 20 bodies.
1) first off, coffee, tea and fresh orange juice for the 'dults in the am - I've usually a couple of loaves of (baked the evening before) stone milled bread - toast, waffles, bacon. The paper shredding has to wait till the adults are awake, and at least snacked up to mobile. Kidlets have stockings until then. Usually have 5 to 8 folks in transit, although I've taken to picking my mom up the afternoon before.
2) the great shredding - shortbread cookies, mince tarts and more coffee/tea - usually by now fortified.
3) shrimp rings with sauce, stone milled rolls, butter, butter and more butter, and a variety of smoked meats, spicy meats and kid friendly bun stuffings, cheeses (We've a fantastic cheese maker about 2 hours away, I'll get a variety)
At this point I'll already have the bird going (BTW - the default instructions I've seen for turkey are WRONG, usually resulting in hot, dry, unpalatable bird - go long low and slow, and it can be just as juicy as you could want, the key is the internal temp *not* the external temp. Meat thermometer anyone?) - stuffing I prefer to go exotic and use pumpernickel and a whole wheat for breads, fruit and nuts - the favourite around here is walnuts, almonds, dates, apricots, apple with nutmeg, cinnamon, and a mild smoked chili for a wee bit of zing.
Sweet potatoes, straight baked then mashed with maple syrup (the real stuff) a hint of cardamom and lots of pepper and you can't add too much butter, roasted potatoes (I prefer to use duck over goose fat, but whatever works, with paprika, garlic, salt, pepper, and onion) acorn squash (roasted open face with butter, mediera sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon), Broccoli, Brussels sprouts (steamed part way to cooked, then tossed into bacon fat with some garlic - let the garlic brown *first*) and if I've time and remember, green beans, get tossed in after the Brussels sprouts are done, but with thai chili.
Served with the drippings gravy, more dinner rolls, lots of wine, port or beer depending on one's taste and well, I usually go through 3 to 4 pounds of butter during Christmas dinners. Followed up with a pud, (made by a good friend, usually started in september and I have 2 coming this year) and that gets topped with brandy sauce thank you (and I've a *really* nice brandy for it this year).
All of this will have been lubricated by wine, beer, port, rum, eggnog, brandy and god knows what other forms of alcohol get hauled in by the various bodies. (Most of those that know us will drop by if they have to do the (at her moms in the morning and his moms in the evening) thing. - and several neighbours will drop in at some point, usually to inhale deeply and complain that their bird doesn't smell that good)
At some point in the evening the bones from the bird go back in the oven with any left over oils, duck or turkey, at 285 until I drag my ass out of bed on boxing day and take the tasty browned bits and start on the soup broth.
I then spend the next two weeks recovering from the cooking fest. In a food coma.
...all the comments about turkey being dry and tasteless; if it is you're doing it wrong!
Buy a free range turkey from a local supplier; this will have loads of flavour.
As for moistness
1) Under no circumstances use a frozen turkey
2) Don't truss the turkey again once you've stuffed it, just leave it
3) Roast it upside down for the first hour, then turn it right way up.
4) Baste it often
5) Rest the turkey for at least 20 minutes when it's done.
Christmas Eve: After candlelight service at my in-laws, over to their place (~45 mins from home) for cold cut sandwiches, cheese, crackers, shrimp, and lots of sweets, especially chocolates and my wife's aunt's "crunchy fudge" (imagine Rice Krispy treats + peanut butter + semi-sweet chocolate in the middle -- problem is she's starting to lose memory or taste and her recipe seems "off" lately).
Christmas morning: As big as a breakfast gets in our house (me, missus, 3 kids) -- scrambled eggs, sausage, missus' special hash browns (heavy on the garlic and Lawry's seasoned salt, can't remember if she adds onion too), and various/varied breads (pancakes, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, etc. -- different every year).
Christmas dinner: Used to be a solely ham affair, like Easter, because we get our turkey fill in November (Thanksgiving), but since mother-in-law has been doing the Easter ham, she doesn't feel like cooking it on Christmas after doing the Eve dinner. So we've (my brother-in-law; he hosts, an hour from home) turned to The Honeybaked Ham Store for a pre-sliced ham with glorious sweet glaze and also a small turkey breast with the same glaze; he plans on repeating this year, to everyone's delight. Can't really remember the rest except for dessert: a birthday cake for Jesus (the kids love the tradition) and the kid-decorated sugar cookies (wish I could pass, but Daddy HAS to have one from each).
Then weeks of eating candy from the stocking. Never mind my kids still have half-a-sack each left from Halloween, plus those cookies, plus candy canes near the tree (were ON the tree but needed more room for ornaments). America is hooked on sugar, I swear.
I mostly just want the breakfast. I can't handle the kids fighting over their new gifts (or refusing to take turns opening) until my stomach is about half-full (but not total-full or I need a nap). I'd rather eat first than open gifts, and better yet fill the kids up and slow their excitement down just a notch.
Perfect Xmas dinner?
Actually using the oven a bit and not the usual 'bung carton in microwave', take out, smother in pepper, eat watching anime.
All other condiments, pepper and anime stay the same.
What episode of Queens Blade would that be then?
Bah humbug and all that. I've a years worth of games to get through in a week here...
I have a 20 litre saucepan which means I can brew a batch up before Christmas Eve and it lasts all the way through. All without any effort other than reheating and a few minutes to cook up some rice and a variety of accompaniments. The best part is it gets hotter as it ages.
There are better and more enjoyable things to do than slaving over a hot stove at Christmas.
Someone always wants to drop round and enjoy a break from the traditional so I usually get offered a return visit with a Proper Crimbo Dinner (TM) at some point over the holiday.
I'm interested to see that nobody has commented on turducken.
It isn't bird-within-a-bird, regardless of whether you think it's good or bad.
The Unreliable Source suggests a long and not entirely American history for this dish, and that three layers of nesting is far from the most extreme version.
>>I'm interested to see that nobody has commented on turducken.
Indeed it is, I noticed that too. The bird-within-a-bird would be a turturkeykey. Although they could both be referred to as Frankenfowl. Also, don't use live ones if you decide to try it out. A ...errrrrrr... friend told me :D
Meat can also be a generic word for any sort of food. - in some regions, maybe.
Well, if you're going to stretch the meaing of the word...
'meat' is also innuendo....
It's not like in japan parlance, in which 'gohan' is rice or often food in general....
'meat and potatoes' - maybe a general term for food in some areas
Traditional mincemeat contains suet. Which is animal fat, and therefore meat.
The suet in the pastry is the reason that my steak and kidney puddings are not suitable for vegetarians.
On which subject, when I get the huge steamer back from my Mum (who used it to make the mega-huge Christmas-Pudding-of-Death, I shall make kate & sidney pud for a random bunch of mates who're at my place over the holiday. Or I suppose I could cook one for myself and just have it over several days...
Render a plump 7 kilo turkey down until it resembles a shrivelled Peking (sorry Beijing) duck. To achieve this result plus about 50 gallons of gravy and hardly any meat, all you have to do is overcook the turkey for hours in a convection oven through inadvertently following the cooking time instructions for a conventional oven. Since doing that I've never been a fan of convection ovens..
Yorkshire pud? why the hell not, serve with pigs in blankets embedded in it :D...
Turkeys good if its cooked right, doesn't need to be dry, if I get a bird its usually turkey, I'm quite partial to roasting a massive ham for crimbo though, the left overs can be hacked off to go well with all the bloody cheese for the next couple of days :D...
It's frequently too hot in the Antipodes for a traditional Northern Hemisphere Christmas nosh-up; not that that doesn't stop many from knocking themselves out trying. Wrong time of year for Brussels sprouts, parsnips etc. Mind you, it's difficult to knock back a decent roast.
This year I will be roasting a leg of lamb -- on the barbecue if it's a hot day. The leg is deeply slashed at roughly 20 mm intervals and stuffed with a lemony bread stuffing. Recipe here. I roast at a lower temperature and for a longer time than here. This is the secret to juicy, tender, succulent roasts. An instant read meat thermometer is essential so you stop the cooking when the meat has attained the correct temperature for the desired degree of doneness.
On the barbecue, the roasting pan goes on the hotplate and the heat comes from the char-grill burner(s). About 15 minutes before the end, I throw a good size bunch of rosemary twigs on the char-grill to smoke the roast.
Accompaniments will be salad and boiled new potatoes. Mrs Git likes to make an excellent shepherd's pie from the left-overs and I like eating it.
Feel like I gotta add the Australian perspective.
To quote Tim Minchin, Christmas is all about white wine in the sun. My family usually nips down to the beach for an early swim at about 0700. The roads are empty and there's nearly always a beach-related gift under the tree.
Lotsa seafood. Prawns are a must. I usually queue at a local wholesale fishmonger at about 5AM on Christmas Eve to buy a coupla kilos of prawns. There's then a nice moment when the best prawn-peelers in the family don aprons and get 'em ready to cook.
The prawns kick things off and there's usually a big roast something too. If possible we get it done on the BBQ with the lid down, to keep the heat outside rather than cooking the kitchen.
By mid afternoon it's best to keep drinking - stop and the heat means you get a 4PM hangover
I'm not sure I could stomach (please forgive the pun) a hot Christmas feed on the day when it's something better than 32 degrees C outside..
We go for a decent selection of cold cuts, including smoked turkey and ham, a bunch of pickled vegetable varieties and an obscene amount of cheese. This is all accompanied by various carbohydrate forms, fluffy and pillowy chunks, flat crunchy discs etc.
This usually gets set up in the middle of the house mid-morning, and then grazed on all day. You can be liberal with alcoholic condiments to taste.
The brandy soaked Christmas pud is non-negotiable though, with lots of custard on the side.
Icon because that's what the weather is like here in Oz on Christmas day.
How can you manage Christmas pudding and custard on a day when it's too hot to eat roast?
Or maybe it's just too hot to cook. I've on objection to eating steak and kidney pudding in the Summer, it's just the 4 hours of steaming it that I mind. Especially as I've no door between the kitchen and the living room.
Cream instead of custard to cool it down perhaps?
Yep a selection of cooked and cold for us. Prawns are a must as is ham. A nicely roasted pork leg with lots of loverly crackling. Cooked outside in the hooded BBQ. Sister-in-law does a turkey roll thing which is always nice for something different. At least 2 different salads and loads of roast veg: Potato, Sweet Potato, Pumpkin, Onions. Lashings of thick rich gravy to smother it all in (the hot stuff not the prawns or salad).
Of course, you can always manage the Christmas Pudding, custard/cream/ice cream are optional. Served with cold custard instead of hot. We usually have a pavlova as well for those who want both or either...
And lots of beer, champers, wine etc... a nice single malt to top it all off later on.
I agree with most of the above comments, I do enjoy a nice goose at Christmas. Yes, even with yorkies* and gravy.
We also sort out a platter of various cooked/cured meats, breads, cheeses and things to nibble on.
We also have a few "exotic" items in the form of sausages. This year we have Wild Boar, Reindeer, Goat, Llama and Horse.
I may even cook a vegetable to go with all that meat.
* Available from your local kennels
Looks a bit arty for Christmas dinner...
On the other hand I like the idea, so it's something that looks worth trying. 25 minutes seems a bit of a short roasting time though.
Got 3 for a roast on Saturday, so maybe I should do it then, when there's time to prep.
I grew up in Puerto Rico (a small Yank colony in the middle of the Caribbean Sea), and our traditions were a strange mixture of European customs brought in by the Spanish, African delicacies introduced by black slaves, and quick and cheap fare handed from the Americans.
However, emulsifying that heaping mess is a beautiful, purely Puertorrican flair and flavour, which is truly unique within its Caribbean peers. It's not an exaggeration to say that "Christmas Day" spans several weeks of holiday feasting and partying in Puerto Rico.
Needless to say, I left it all behind once I escaped my shackled roots and moved to the mainland USA.
So "traditionally" the missus and I prepare mainly a goose with various accoutrements, such as brandy-date sauce, calvados and sage sweet apples, and a healthy dose of dauphinois lovely confitted in the bird's golden drippings. Yum. I look forward every year to this feast, and ache for months once its over.
That is... until last year, when fate and circumstance brought me back to visit what remained of my family on the island. I was once again exposed to that wild and lovely melange of the typical Puertorrican Christmas feast. In memoriam of my recently deceased mother, I ended up roasting my own pork, with the siblings helping prepare all sorts of brilliant delicacies I've had not enjoyed (or appreciated) since my long gone youth.
So, that has sparked a brand new tradition in the DZ's household: we will roast a gorgeous piece of pork leg (we call it "pernil"), marinated and seasoned in traditional Puertorrican way, just like our grandparents used to do; to be accompanied with all sorts of mandatory dishes, like "arroz con gandules" (rice stewed with pigeon peas, sofrito, pork belly, etc.), root vegetables roasted in various fats, and traditional pies. And for dessert, my favourite: "tembleque," a cocoanut flan-like custard with cinnamon. :)
All that going down with all sorts of spirits, from the traditional rum, to fancy aged whiskeys and cognacs, ports and sherries (or Xerez, for the ibero-educated) -- plus our very own family recipe of "coquito," a traditional Puertorrican cocktail made with cocoanut milk, condensed milk, and lots and lots of rum!
Ahhh... Christmas... How I love thee. I am ready to start the weeks-long celebration. Gotta honour your roots, you know. ;)
Grow your own turkey, then they end up a manageable size and don't dry out, also taste better, also free range ones get bigger legs and smaller breasts so you get more of the lovely dark meat for Christmas and can save the boring breast meat for a curry the next day. And if not a curry, then a sandwich with mango chutney.
To be fair, this plan works best when you don't have to see the family until some time in January, so Christmas dinner is a relaxed affair, and by the time the family comes they're all sick of Christmas food and/or on a doomed-to-failure diet so you can make something sensible like quiche and chips.
Can't stick turdkey, so boring. Would do goose, but there are only 2 of us who would eat it, so we have duck instead. Don't have Puddings with it, but we do Popovers instead - an American cross between Puds and bread rolls, and remarkably good.
Wife will have something veggie (and she's the only one that eats Devil's Testicles), and daughter will have chicken - only meat she eats.
Rump Roast , seared and then roasted at 350F for 3.5 hours, mashed potatoes (made with lots of cream and butter in order to finish off the weak before the New Year arrives), peas for a little color and to give the kids something to put in the potatoes, fresh rolls.
No skim milk, no margarine, no low salt (for God's sake, it's cheap - use it freely) and no boxed wine and no light beer.
Simple, but it has to be since I'm doing the cooking.
Gawd... wrong hemisphere... its usually 40 degrees here.
For the extended family which is more oriental than english... Several dozen Sydney Rock oysters for starters, followed by prawns (cold), Queensland mud crabs, smoked trout, salmon teriyaki, flathead fillets in batter with dill mayonnaise, Side dishes included a light salad of garden greens and kipfer potatoes tossed in a homemade sauce of mayonnaise with a dash of wasabi, chinese flat noodle salad with cold BBQ duck, chinese broccoli with oyster sauce and steamed pork & chive dumplings for the kids.
One dish - for those who dare - was szichuan beef with ginger and black beans complete with numbing peppers and chilli that would turn most people purple in seconds.
Dessert for those still going was a traditional boiled pudding allowed to cool, sliced and these pan-fried in butter till crispy with a drizzle of custard and brandy butter.
All washed down with several bottles of a chilled vintage sparkling rose´ from a high country cold-climate vineyard near Orange NSW, chinese puer tea and a chaser of Talisker Storm.
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