Part of the problem with having about two months’ worth of eating adventures to write up is that some date faster than others. So in the interest of not being too obviously tardy, here’s a quick wrap up of my very first Christmas – that I hosted, that is! I may be a heathen, but I’m not ignunt.
My sister was overseas this last Christmas, and my parents have always been a bit blase about the holiday, so I took it upon myself to save Christmas for the family. Of course, that meant roasting a turkey! Let’s not half-arse here, we’re talking about the birth of some guy about two thousand years ago here. It’s a big deal, right?
So let’s start with the stuffing. Mine was a riff off a Jamie Oliver one from his Cook cook book. But I used dried cranberries and a few other things that Maggie Beer had in her stuffing recipe for goose. So yeah, bacon, onion, sage, celery…
… remove from heat and add breadcrumbs, dried cranberries …
… let it coolto rom temperature, then add sausage meat (I de-cased some pork and fennel sausages from my local butcher) and an egg …
… mix thoroughly …
… get to second base with your bird. You’re going to be putting it in your mouth later anyway, so no need to be shy …
… and spread that stuffing all up against its breasts.
Tie it up so you’ve got complete control of the roasting position… (and yes, that’s a bacon band aid for where the bird’s skin had split on the thigh).
Wrap in foil and roast in a low oven for four hours. At Jess‘ suggestion, I brined my turkey overnight, in an apple juice and salt brine, but I probably should only have brined it for about 8 hours instead of 16, as the meat ended up a little too salty.
But I was feeding seven people, and never one to under-cater – I am Chinese, after all – there had to be other dishes. I had chatted with Bryan about Christmas preparations, and he remarked that he was keep to try the port-braised beef ribs which I had made for a Game of Thrones themed dinner party earlier in the year. It was a pretty easy set-and-forget dish, so I thought it might be worth reprising for my family this Christmas, too.
I browned the ribs, and then left them on the stove simmering for about 4 hours in a braising liquid made up of port, beef stock, and various herbs and spices. I can’t remember exactly what went into it, but bay leaves, ground coriander, thyme and pepper are definitely in the mix.
Then I thought I should have a starter, and given the time (and stove) constraints, I thought gazpacho would be a great option. One perk of a summer Christmas is that you can have those summery dishes too, then crank the air con and bring out the turkey!
That’s still not enough food! Let’s gin-poach some salmon! (That’s lemon rind, dill and pepper, along with vegetable stock and Tanqueray in there.)
And make a loose interpretation of salad Nicoise. With sweet potato of course, because of Dad’s Type II diabetes.
Dressed with a home-made dill mayonnaise. Mayonnaise/hollandaise is so easy with a stab blender – thanks to Tammi for showing me the light.
So here’s what was on the table, in the end:
The salmon Nicoise salad.
Port-braised beef ribs with carrots which were braised with the turkey.
The main event: the bird!
Oh yeah, there was a nectarine, rocket and quinoa salad, too, but that came into being late in the piece, when I had shifted into anxious host mode, and forgotten to take photos.
I think this may have been one of the most fun and rewarding Christmases I’ve ever had. It’s true what they say about the spirit of giving – or in this case, the spirit of feeding – being what Christmas is truly about. We all had a great lunch, Mum got a little tipsy, which is not very common, and I introduced them to Christmas crackers. Check out their matching paper crowns.
Then after it was all over, and the folks went home, my housemate and I sat down and relaxed with a nice glass of bubbles.
OK, it was more than one. There may have been drinking games involved. We may have gotten stupidly shit-faced. But that’s what Christmas is all about for Australians, isn’t it? 😉