Jan Main has some turkey (and gravy) tips to help you enjoy your Christmas Day celebration.
By JAN MAIN
Christmas Day is almost here!
Hopefully the Omicron variant throws a wrench into our plans to celebrate with friends and family this year.
However, after what was last year’s sifted Christmas due to the pandemic, I’m rusty when it comes to planning a bigger rally! My friends have confessed the same. We lack confidence, we slow down the preparations. Our hotel know-how is on hold!
Enjoy every minute in the kitchen with these tips and recipes designed for easy preparation and delicious taste. And enjoy your Christmas party.
For several years, I have organized Christmas events. Like any special occasion, it had to be as perfect as possible. From those years of experience, here are some suggestions that worked:
Make a daily plan from the first steps to the grand finale:
- Monday – prepare desserts and pastries. If possible, arrange on serving plates; cover well, refrigerate or freeze ready to serve.
- Tuesday – Prepare the vinaigrettes, refrigerate. Make a shopping list and do your shopping.
- Wednesday – If possible, set the table; at least prepare and put aside all that is necessary: take out the necessary serving plates and serving utensils
- Thusday – Make casseroles of vegetables, stuff and refrigerate. Prepare the cranberry sauce and any appetizers. (if you have)
- Friday– Cook the turkey, cut it and dress it on a plate. Refrigerate the cooking juices; organize the remaining ingredients for the sauce. Take the desserts out of the freezer.
- Saturday (Christmas day) Preheat the oven to warm it up. Reheat food. Last minute table adjustments. Serve and enjoy!
Aperitifs: Although people love appetizers, keep them to a minimum. You don’t need a lot before a rich meal. However, if anyone offers to bring an appetizer, accept it!
Salted almonds, some olives and some raw vegetables are a simple and light snack.
Thawing: If you are serving turkey, allow at least three days to thaw a frozen turkey in the refrigerator. If it’s a large turkey, thaw for four days. Thaw at least 5 hours / lb in the refrigerator.
Padding: Cook frozen or fresh unstuffed turkey with stuffing in a separate casserole dish. The bird cooks faster this way, and you can assemble your stuffing on the same day as the vegetable casseroles. The other advantage is that the stuffing is easier to digest because it didn’t absorb the fat from the bird.
Fresh barbecue turkey: Consider using a fresh turkey and barbecuing it in a disposable pan. You get fantastic results, the oven is free for other foods and you can throw away the disposable dish without washing it. Hooray!
How to grill a turkey
Preheat the barbecue to medium-high heat. Place a 12-16 lb (5.5-7.25 kg) unstuffed turkey on a trivet in a large, disposable foil pan. Pour 2-3 cups (500-750 mL) of water in the bottom of the pot (this keeps the turkey moist!) Pour 2 Tbsp. (25 mL) olive oil and fresh lemon juice on the poultry; sprinkle lightly with sea salt and fresh pepper. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp. (10 mL) dried thyme.
Fill the cavity with the finished lemon pieces and an onion cut into quarters and 3 whole garlic cloves, crushed. Cover with strong aluminum sealing edges. Bake 2 to 2 ½ hours or until the legs stir easily and the thermometer reaches 185 F (85 C). Remove and let sit for about 15 minutes before carving. Remember to save the cooking juices for the sauce before throwing in the pan!
Prepare the turkey the day ahead: There is no rule to say that you must cook and serve the turkey the same day it is cooked.
If you want to enjoy your Christmas day, do as much preparation as possible before the big day, including cooking the turkey. Cook and cut the turkey the day before. This way you can attractively arrange the turkey slices on a baking dish (or aluminum pan) ready to be reheated the next day.
If the meat has been sprinkled with pan juices, covered in foil and refrigerated overnight, it will be ready to be reheated on Christmas Day in a 350 F (180 C) oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until ‘so that it is very hot. . It will be soft, tasty and fragrant! (A Christmas kitchen must smell wonderful!)
Best of all, there’s a minimum of mess to clean up on Christmas Day!
Drain and keep all the juices from the turkey; cover and refrigerate. The cooking juices are the basis for a delicious sauce. Once cooled, the fat rises to the surface and can be removed and discarded. Save all your vegetable juices when preparing your vegetarian casseroles, to add them to the broth for the sauce.
Broth for the sauce
People love the sauce especially with mashed potatoes!
Reserved juice from the cooked bird, cooled with discarded fat. Measure this amount and any vegetable juices with chicken broth to make 6 cups (1 ½ L).
Broth and sauce can be made the night before to simplify last minute prep.
6 cups / 1 ½ L reserved turkey juice, any vegetable juice and chicken broth
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 each, coarsely sliced carrot and celery
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. (2 ml) thyme leaves
3 tbsp. (45 mL) cornstarch
3 tbsp. (45 ml) cold water
6 cups (1 ½ L) reserved turkey broth (as above)
¼ (50 mL) dry sherry (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Store: In a large saucepan, combine 6 cups (1 ½ L) turkey juice, vegetable juice and chicken broth. Add the onion, carrot, celery, bay leaf and thyme. To boil; lower the heat and simmer for about 1 hour. Sift and discard solids to make 6 cups (1 ½ L).
To prepare the sauce: In a separate measuring cup, whisk together cornstarch and water. Stir in the hot broth and cook, whisking frequently to avoid lumps, for about 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Stir in the sherry if used, taste. Season with salt and pepper. Ready to serve. Makes 6 cups (1 ½ L).
Happy holidays to everyone !