Monday, December 24, 2012

Co-Operative Christmas Dinner

 I recall Christmas' when my mother was up early to get the turkey in the oven in time for the meal to be served in the afternoon, and her Christmas mornings were spent preparing everything in the kitchen while we all tried out our new toys and tried on new clothes.

What's Christmas without Turkey?
Not so here in Ottawa this Christmas. We trained our children right, and they have both developed excellent culinary skills, and enjoy cooking. As a result the meal was a co-operative effort with everyone chipping in something. We elected to do Christmas dinner on Christmas eve because Alisha is going to Deep River with Mark tomorrow afternoon, so you get to read about our Christmas Dinner before your's.

I started my contribution the evening before. I was trying a new recipe for the turkey. Alisha swears that brining is the way to go, but my Christmas gift subscription from her last year to Cook's Illustrated” claims that salting, not brining is the best way to ensure a moist turkey with crisp and browned skin. I spent the evening pushing salt under the skin all over the 15 pound free-range “organic” turkey Ryan had purchased to allow it to salt overnight. This afternoon, I pressed herbs and spices under the skin, and Ryan and I prepared a dressing of local sausage bread and chestnuts.
Working Together

Ben prepared an appetizer of bacon wrapped chestnuts and jalapeno peppers in a delicious barbecue sauce, to keep our appetites at bay since we were not eating until at least 7:30 PM. They were hot, sticky and spicy-good! Alisha introduced us to the “Pim's Cup”; cucumber, citrus fruit & strawberries in a mixture of Pims, Ginger Beer and Lemonade over ice.

Ryan's Beans
Although not a traditional “Christmas” vegetable, Alisha decided to add beets to the meal. She boiled them, peeled and chopped them into cubes and served them with a very interesting garlic walnut butter and goat cheese. Unusual but very delicious. She also made a “nightshade” free sweet potato and orange marmalade casserole.

Ryan, along with helping with the dressing, took one of our traditional Christmas vegetables, and updated it by shredding the brussel sprouts and frying them with bacon and balsamic vinegar. They were delicious but hardly recognizable as our old favourite vegetable. Ryan also made green beans served with a shallot and filberts sauce. A bit “oniony” for me, but enjoyed by everyone else.

Regis cooked up her traditional cranberry sauce, and she sort of oversaw everything else and made sure that everything had a place to be cooked and came out of the oven and off the stove at the same time.

Now some things just shouldn't be “messed” with, so I brought my traditional steamed Christmas pudding from home ready to be heated up, but I changed the sauce, using rum instead of brandy as flavouring and added chopped filberts for a bit of a different touch.

The dishes are cleaned up, mostly by Mark who arrived too late to do much cooking. Regis has made some lunch-to-go turkey left-over casseroles for the children when they go back to work next year, and the turkey carcass is boiling away on the stove for a turkey soup later in the week. Everyone contributed to a delicious, successful Christmas meal.

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