Thursday, 5 December 2013

Alternative Christmas Day

It's no secret that I love Christmas but I can find that some years work and life take over and I don't get into the festivities early enough and don't make the most of Christmas spirit. I also find that most years the last few weekends running up to Christmas are spent running around the country visiting people and dropping off presents, to then spend Christmas Day just with family and not spending enough quality time with close friends. As enjoyable this is, by the time I make it to Christmas Day, I'm exhausted! So this year I decided to bring the mountain to Mohammad and start the festivities nice and early to get me in the spirit! 

So on the 1st December I hosted a full Christmas Day for my close friends and their children. Having 20+, including 5 little people, in my relatively small house was total chaos but we all had a fab time and I think it might have to become a new tradition. We all shared out the responsibilities so I only cooked the main meal, people brought starters, nibbles, puddings, chocolates and drinks with them. The day started with breakfast from 'Christmas Eve' and then more people started to arrive so we soon moved on to presents followed by Christmas lunch and an afternoon of Christmas films. We were all so busy enjoying ourselves we never got onto the board games!

I love traditions and as I get older I'm finding more and more I like to create my own, so maybe this will become a regular thing!

So the main event was of course the turkey. I used Nigella Lawson's brining method, after trying this for the first time about 5 years ago I'd never cook a turkey again without brining it. From this point on I just co the turkey in the way my nan and mum did when we were growing up. In the bottom of the roasting tin I put 6 chopped onions, the orange segments from the brine and a glass of water (normally I'd use wine but unfortunately at the moment I can't have alcohol). I then placed the turkey, breast side up, on top of the onions and carefully prised the turkey skin away from each breast. As I needed it to be dairy free I used lard but you can also use butter. You need a whole block of your chosen fat - 250g - mixed with plenty of chopped herbs, seasoning and orange and lemon zest (garlic too if you wish). I used thyme, parsley, sage and rosemary. Carefully push the herb lard/butter under the skin on top of each breast and spread out as best you can. Add additional seasoning sprinkled all over the skin of the turkey and drizzle with oil.

Cover the whole roasting tin with tin foil and put it into a hot oven pre-heated to 240 C, after 10 minutes turn the overnight down to 180C and cook the turkey according to the butcher/packages instructions (this will vary according to size and type of turkey (eg Kelly's Bronze tend to need less time). You can baste the turkey with the juices from the tin every 30 mins or so, but be carefully to carefully reseal the foil. About 30 minutes before it is due to be cooked remove the foil to allow the skin to crisp up. The turkey is cooked when the juices run clear, particularly from the leg/thigh which will taken longer to cook than the breast. Cover the turkey in tin foil and clean tea towels and allow to rest.

I also cooked a gammon. Again I brined this using the same brining recipe I used for the turkey above and then cooked it according to this recipe from Nigella. If I do say so myself it was delicious! I was very pleased to have leftovers that's for sure. I left the garlic and onion out of the cooking water as I'm not able to eat these at the moment.

This was served with spiced red cabbage, roasted root vegetables with sausages, braised bacon brussel sprouts (without the basil), the best ever roast potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing made by scooping the onions that cooked under the turkey into a frying pan, adding some additional sage and a packet of Paxo's sage and onion stuffing, you could easily make your own with bread crumbs but this is how my nan always made it and old habits die hard!

As I'm fairly limited in what I can eat at the moment I roasted a few of the carrots and parsnips separately for me and cooked some kale as I can't eat cabbage and sprouts. Instead of gravy I just had a little homemade chicken stock poured over my meat. A good low FODMAP alternative for those who are limited.

For pudding we had a massive selection, unfortunately I don't have a photo of everything
- a profiterole wreath filled with cream and served with a toffee sauce
- a banoffee pie
- Tom Kerridge's bread and butter pudding
- alternative mince pies
- Christmas cookies

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