We do Christmas Dinner following the Irish tradition as my wife is Irish and Christmas tradition is very important for her, it is more typical to do Christmas Lunch in Oz with seafood and salads as it is usually so hot no one wants a hot meal in the middle of the day. This year I’d like to say I went for the tried and true recipes but on looking back I took a few risks on some new twists.
The menu was Irish Soda Bread (Brown Bread) with Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese garnished with Lemon Juice and Black Pepper for Entre with Brown Brothers King Valley Prosecco NV. Main course Glazed Ham on the bone, Turkey, Roasted Potatoes, Pumpkin and Carrot, Green Bean Casserole and Pork Stuffing with Taylors 2014 Clare Valley Merlot. Desert, Apple tart and vanilla ice cream.
I tried to take photos of everything as I went through the process of getting this meal on the table but sometimes you just cannot stop to take a photo, so apologies for some bits that are missing photos.
I research all the recipes beforehand and have an iPad in the kitchen with the Well Done Cooking Timer and all the recipes on Tabs in Chrome or Safari. The iPad sits on a Logitech Bluetooth Keyboard stand so it’s easy for me to flick between apps and an HP Roar speaker connected via Bluetooth so I can hear the alarms when I’m out of the kitchen.
Our aim is to be as free of nasty chemicals as possible so I buy all the ingredients from the local farmer’s market where possible, this often dictates what we get to cook, but that’s part of the challenge.
The goal was to have dinner on the table at 5:00pm, so working back from that time, I started the morning of the day before, taking the 5.2Kg Turkey out of the freezer to defrost. That same afternoon I started on the pasture fed, free range leg of Ham, which I had pre ordered and picked up from The Free Range Butcher at the local farmer’s market.
I quite like Jamie Oliver’s recipes and have done his Killer Jerk Chicken (30 Minute recipe book ) a few times with great success so I decided to go for Jamie’s jerk ham and made the marinade from fresh ingredients, grinding the spices myself, removed the skin from the ham, scored the fat in a diamond pattern, put it all in a baking dish covering the ham with as much marinade as possible, put cling wrap over it all and in the fridge to marinade overnight. The twist here is I’ve never done a ham with a marinade before, fingers crossed.
The next morning, I started at 9:00am, quickly go through all the recipes and check that I have all the ingredients, set all the cooking times into the iPad timer – pre-heat the oven to 180°C/400°F take the ham out of the fridge and leaving it in the baking dish, scrape of as much of the marinade as possible and leaving it sitting in the pool of marinade, put it in the oven to cook for an hour. While it’s cooking I made the glaze as per Jamie’s recipe using Cheeky Chops Apricot and Ginger Marmalade, freshly squeezed orange juice and Captain Morgan Spiced Rum. The marmalade was very runny and so the glaze was very thin,
Using the Well Done Timers, I started to glaze the ham every 10 minutes and after three goes I gave up on the glaze mixture and started to brush the Marmalade only on the ham – this worked very nicely and the ham came out all sticky and golden.
I know it looks a bit burnt in this photo but I assure you it’s not and it tastes delicious, I think doing the Marinade was a triumph.
The trick with Turkey (and Chicken) is to keep the meat moist. I’ve been successfully doing Jamie’s “Fantastic Roast Chicken” for some time and the whole lemon in the bird is what keeps it moist, so I’m doing this the same for this Turkey with the addition of beer in the roasting pan.
I make about 250 grams of herbed butter by whizzing up 4 cloves of garlic, a bunch of thyme (pick the leaves off the stalks) a teaspoon of rock salt in the Thermomix (I have a TM31) and then add the butter and mix it together and put it back in a container to use from there.
I unwrap the turkey, take out the neck and put aside and wash the bird under cold running water inside and out and leave in a large roasting dish while I make the stuffing.
I used Jamie’s pork stuffing recipe but forgot to buy chestnuts so I used walnuts instead. This didn’t really work and the stuffing cooked separately from the turkey came out quite meaty and porky.
I packed as much stuffing as I could into the turkey neck cavity and put a washed and scored orange and lemon into the body cavity then worked the butter mixture under the breast skin and all over the body.
I then poured four bottles (1.3 liters/2.8 pints) of White Rabbit White Ale into the roasting pan, covered it all in aluminium foil and put it in the barbecue with the lid down and all four burners on low which generated heat at 160°C/320°F for 3.5 hours. I put the Turkey neck into a pan of slow boiling water to cook for the same amount of time to help flavor the gravy.
I then took the al-foil off the bird and let it brown for 20 minutes.
I think the cooking time was about 40 minutes too long, the meat was falling off the bones and the breast meat was a bit dry. Still very tasty.
The triumph was the beer, I poured off the pan juices and made gravy with it (along with the water from the Turkey neck) and it was the best gravy ever, normally I have to add flavoring to the gravy, but not this time. It was very yum.
Once the turkey was on I peeled the potatoes and pumpkin and washed the carrots then par boiled the potatoes in salted water for 10 minutes. I used my cast iron enameled roasting pan for the Ham and wanted to use it for the roast veg so I put the Ham on a plate and covered it over and washed out the roaster.
Open the wine.
I put the hot potatoes and the other veg in the roaster with about 50 to 100 grams of butter and using tongs roll each and every piece of potato, carrot and pumpkin so they are all coated in the butter then put in the oven for 30 minutes at 190°C/375°F
at the same time put in the stuffing mixture for an hour, and 15 minutes later put in the bean casserole for 45 minutes.
The bean casserole is the favorite of our nanny and she prepared it, basically it’s trimmed green beans in a casserole dish with a tin of “Cream of Mushroom Soup” some milk and seasoning in the oven for 45 minutes.
After 30 minutes I took out the potatoes/carrot/pumpkin, turned them all so they crisp up on both sides and then back in the oven for 30 more minutes, this way all three dishes were ready at the same time.
Once the turkey was done I brought it inside, poured off the juices for the gravy and covered the turkey with alfoil and tea towels to keep warm and rest.
While all this is going on my Wife is setting the table outside under the umbrella, the weather is perfect, sunny with a light breeze.
I take a few minutes to pour the Prosecco and serve the brown bread and smoked salmon, delicious and then back to the kitchen to serve.
The table is set, the gravy and cranberry has gone out, everything is ready so it’s unwrap and carve the turkey, slice the ham, put everything on the plates and get it on the table and it’s just after 5:00pm.
Just before the plates go out I put the Apple Tart in the oven to warm for desert
I bought the Apple Tart from the Apple man at the farmer’s market, supposedly home-made, and served it with Bulla Creamy Classics Vanilla Ice Cream, it was very good.
Once again a most delicious meal is consumed in about 10 minutes…..
I must say the Well Done Cooking Timer makes the whole process a lot easier, being able to see at a glance where everything is and being able to set timers without disturbing the timer you have running is amazing – I can relax and know that an alarm will go off when I have to do the next bit.
We had a wonderful Christmas day and I hope you did too.