Monday, 5 November 2012

Christmas Dinner... in November!!!

As you know, I'm pregnant and therefore craving all sorts of things. This weekend I really fancied Christmas dinner, we'd been thinking about Christmas presents and I was planning it with my mum the weekend before so it sprang into my brain and wouldn't be shifted. My wonderful husband, as always, allowed me to purchase and turkey and so Sunday morning was spent creating our Christmas dinner. Now I know different families have different traditions but here is a talk through of what the Nolan-Neylan Christmas dinner involves:

As you know turkey is the basis to every dinner, well certainly in my family, so we purchased a turkey crown and left it on the side to defrost overnight. Once this is ready you should check for giblets etc (crown didn't have any) and give it a good bath with cold water. Run water through inside and out making sure it's lovely and clean. Once this is done place it on a tray with foil and insert the stuffing into the cavity (I will describe the stuffing later). The turkey then needs a good massage, ideally you would use PLENTY of sunflower oil and really rub it into the skin, unfortunately we didn't have any so we had to make do with fry light, certainly not the same AT ALL!! Once he is lovely and moist then seal in the moisture using streaky, really fatty bacon, the fatter the better. This is not going to be eaten but used to keep turkey lovely and moist and to provide more liquid to seep into the turkey. Place the bacon over the turkey in strips and place the fatty side down on the skin with the meaty side on the top. Cover the turkey in foil and he's ready to cook. This one said 2 hours cooking so leave it covered for 1.5hrs and then remove the turkey and the bacon for the final 30mins so it browns up nicely. It cooked well but probably could have done with 5 more mins. 

Turkey is resting and ready to carve. The stuffing is the bulge on the left end. 
Stuffing is a real favourite in our family and so we usually make LOADS, however, since there was just the two of us I limited this a little and just used one pack of sausage meat. Our stuffing is very simple, sausage meat, onion and sage... lots of sage. For my one pack I used 2 small onions and a whole tube of sage. The mixture must have a green colour to it throughout the mixture and plenty of onion. This isn't an exact science but about learning to judge it by eye. The stuffing is much better when cooked inside the turkey as it remains more moist, however, if you're my family you'll find that the stuffing quantity is far to much to place inside, therefore place the remainder in a loaf tin and cook it like that, as one solid lump it stays much more moist. I never make it into balls or the like. 

So the main part is done, onto the trimmings. 

We had brussel sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli and carrots all just plainly steamed. 

Steamed Brussel Sprouts

Sorry, blurry photo, Cauliflower and Broccoli

In addition to this I tried to make some caramelised onions using a Delia Smith recipe. This basically just involved cooking the onions in butter, sugar and water for around 40 minutes until it had all reduced down and caramelised. I didn't really like this and I would just prefer to do fried onions, therefore that's what I'll be doing for real Christmas dinner. 

Caramelised Onions, next time will just do fried!!
I also homemade pigs in blankets, or pigs in duvets as my dear husband called them. I got some plain chipolatas and wrapped them in bacon, now the recipe said to use pancetta and this would certainly be a better option, however, due to cost bacon would have to do. This meant that the poor chipolatas had lots of bacon to not much sausage, however, they still tasted yummy!! 

Homemade pigs in duvets
I also made Christmas bubble and squeak, this is a recipe I found somewhere last year and thought was rather nice. Throw together some cooked brussels, bacon and potato cubes, add some fat and roast this in the oven. The recipe doesn't say to precook but it definitely worked better that we did. 

I should also add that my husband made roast potatoes and parsnips too, standard pre cook add to fat and roast. 

That's all the trimmings I can remember for now. Finally the sauces, now usually we would make bread sauce and gravy and buy in cranberry sauce. Since I don't like cranberry and my husband isn't overly fond of bread sauce we decided to forgo those and just make gravy. Now this is the one time that I always make the gravy from scratch, it adds so much flavour and is so much better. First step is to make the stock, now this is much better if you have giblets but as said previously, crowns don't come with them, so I added 1 carrot, 1 onion and some stock cubes (ok cheated slightly but no giblets!!) to some water and left this to boil for hours, the whole time turkey was cooking basically. Once the turkey is cooked and removed from the tin save ALL the juices and scrap of everything you can, all those lovely bits of meat and scraps are vital for flavour. I poured this into a saucepan and added flour. This fat and flour forms the basis of your gravy and aids to thicken it up and intensify the flavour. Then add the stock to this gradually and get the gravy to the correct consistency. I didn't have enough stock this time and needed some boiled water but this will vary. We managed to collect a lot of fat from mr turkey this time so made plenty of gravy. This lovely sauce is thicker than normal gravy but also very rich in flavour, we always make loads and use the rest as basis for soups and other dishes later on. 

The meal is done, all that is left is to pile my plate high and eat it!! yummy!!!

My plate is FULL!!
And no I didn't eat everything on my plate and yes we do have a whole fridge full of left overs but I love that. I get a little disappointed when I make the dinner at my parents and then have no leftovers!! Now for thinking of what to make with all that food. Right now I feel like I could just eat it over and over!!