Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas Dinner

I'm filling with excitement as I get out the bird and start prepping for the 'Christmas Feast'.  This year we are going traditional and having Turkey for Christmas.  It will be the first year I have cooked a full turkey.  In previous years we have had a turkey crown, 3 bird roast and goose.  Before that I was vegetarian and as my husband wasn't fussed about eating meat, we just had a quorn roast or grill, which required no prep just heating.  Hubby has always liked the sausages wrapped in bacon, so that has been a usual side.  I enjoy turkey, however the 3 bird roast from aldi - I did not like, and goose, although was nice, I'd prefer turkey or chicken (along with the price tag).
I have been reading up on the best way to cook it and was surprised to read that women perfect cooking the Christmas dinner at age 47 and often don't start cooking it, until they are 34.  Well as I'm not yet 34 and have been doing the Christmas dinner a while now, I should hopefully be mastering this a lot sooner :) even though most of my life I have been a vegetarian. I do love my mums Christmas dinner.  Its just so comforting and big, probably because this is what I was used to and what my happy memories of Christmas are tied too.  I haven't had my mums Christmas dinner in a long time now, as I passed through the 'woman's right of passage' and now make my own for my family.  Its not the same as doing a normal roast dinner as I don't put in as much effort on a Sunday and we don't have as many extras as we do for Christmas day.  I think that by cooking the Sunday roast, you have a feel for your oven and the timings so it is good training.  However this is the day when you take it up a notch.
I actually really like it.  I love thinking about food, what is everyone's favourite? how can I incorporate this to our menu.  I like looking up new recipes seeing what will work, what can I try this time?  I like the idea of making a feast of delicious foods rather than a banquet of mediocre.  I know that there are so many products in the supermarket, that your Christmas dinner can be just a case of re-heating what they have prepared but I quite like the challenge of cooking from scratch.  My sister and I chat on the phone about the recipes we've seen and enjoy the planning stages.
Last year I did homemade stuffing, (which is really simple and tasty to do) along with honey roast parsnips and carrots, cabbage (as I love this vegetable) and Jamie Oliver's roast potatoes as the accompaniments, not forgetting the pigs in blankets or the Yorkshire puddings that my husband loves.  I try and add one more home cooked item to master each year as not to over stress myself.  This year it is Brussels sprouts cooked the hairy bikers way (with pancetta).  I'm afraid there's no link but the recipe is in their Christmas book.  You can always try this.  I hate sprouts (they're bitter little balls which should only be consumed with vast amounts of ketchup) however I've been told its all about the 'method' of how you cook them, so will give it a try.  Next year I plan on trying my own gravy/sauces, as so far I have only done shop bought.
Most of the celeb chefs say buy the best free range turkey, fresh from the farm/butchers but I can't afford that, so I am buying mine from Asda! I'm cooking it in the Nigella Lawson 'super juicy' way.  It seems really simple and not a lot of fussing on the day.  I don't want too much fuss, as will also have 4 excited little boys to play with!  I have also heard that actually on blind taste tests the majority of people prefer the cheaper stores Christmas selection to the premium brands and others could tell no difference.  Anyway first time I've cooked a whole turkey, so have nothing to compare it too :)  With this recipe, its all about soaking the turkey for at least 24 hours in lots of herbs and spices in water.  I'm looking forward to trying it.  We're just having one meat, as its just us 6 for Christmas.  I think the key is to prepare as much as possible in advance. My husband will be out of my hair, hopefully putting together the boys toys or building Lego with them.  I have a piece of paper where I write down timings (otherwise I'll forget and no doubt my little ones will want my attention, to show me their new creation or to play at some point and I can be easily distracted) I am happy listening to them playing whilst I am cooking away.
I like the table to look nice too and we often get the advent candles out and if the boys have made any decorations or from our advent craft Sundays, these will go on the table too.  We do the crackers, the boys love them.  Its not about creating a spread fit for homes and gardens but a homely feel where everyone feels part of the feast and the family!

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