Thursday, December 20, 2007

12 Posts of Christmas (No. 8)

The all important Christmas Dinner is one of my favourite meals. The meal has become a real family effort in my house, eith everyone contributing, something that has developed over the years due to my Mam often working at Christmas. The meal can be cooked well and luckily we manage this most years in our house, while others moan at the dryness of their turkley or squishy brussel sprouts. Years ago the wider family gathered for the meal in the family pub with trays of up to 30 glasses of prawn cocktails lining the counter. These were fantastic days, manic and my duty each Christmas Eve was to help my grandmother make the stuffing, a task I still perform every Christmas Eve morning. The meal has developed over time. With some assistance from Simon on the dessert front here are some small touches I like to add when I am helping around the Christmas kitchen. Please note there will be no advice on gravy. Gravy is not my strong point, I don't know how to make it, let alone perfect it, so all advice is welcome.

Some form of alcohol to start the day (well early afternoon), usually Bucks Fizz in our house.

Make the prawn cocktail sauce rather than taking it from a jar, combine mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, a bit of tomato puree, wostershire sauce, lemon juice, pepper, tasting until you achieve the correct balance. Slices of avocado give a nice kitsch look to the glass bowl of prawns.

Pour a boiled kettle of water over your potatoes, leave to cool and then drain the water from the spuds before cooking as mormal. This destarches the potatoes, adding to their flouriness.

Fresh stage and pancetta in the stuffing.

Ease butter under the breast skin of the turkey and layer up the bird with strips of rasher/pancetta before its cooking.

Roast parsnips with the roast spuds. Gorgeous.

Cut the spuds for roasting at an angle into chunks so as much surface area as possible is exposed to the heat.

Cranberry sauce from scratch - simple put the fresh berries, a glass of water and orange juice, a shot of rum and more sugar than you think you need in a sauce pan and let the mixture combine as the berries pop. I put this on everything.

And here is a link to a dessert as recommended by Simon, which looks very tasty.I am not a dessert eater or maker and would rarely eat it straight after dinner.

Neverthless I do enjoy flaming the pudding, pouring over a shot or two of brandy. Avoid vodka though, it will burn until Stephens Day!

Finally, an Irish coffee.

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