Christmas dinner: a survivor's guide
Catherine Fulvio of Ballyknocken House & Cookery School has foolproof tips for preparing the most important meal of the year
Preparing Christmas lunch can be a juggling act, but I find that having a cooking plan means that I can relax and enjoy the happy day, and minimise stress.
Here are a few tips I've learned over the years that help to keep the day on track:
* Keep your recipes/planner together in a folder in an easy-to-find place.
* Don't be shy about asking your family and friends to bring the starter or dessert.
* Set some time today to get a lot of the prep work done.
* And to those who are cooking dinner this year -- enjoy every minute of it, and remember to nominate a few people to do the washing up, as part of your plan!
Wishing you a Merry Christmas
Stuffing the turkey
Generally, I place lemons, oranges, herbs, shallots or onions in the cavity to develop flavour. From a health and safety point of view, I do like not like to stuff the cavity.
Make sure that the stuffing is cool and that it is fully cooked before you use it for stuffing the neck, and in a loaf or stuffing balls.
How to stuff the neck: Place the turkey, skin-side up, on a clean board. Ease the skin from the meat with your fingers, beginning from the neck end, without breaking the skin.
Using your fingers, gently pack some of the stuffing under the skin. Secure the neck flap and tie the turkey legs together.
Weigh and calculate the roasting time for the turkey -- generally this is 35-40 minutes per kilo plus 20 minutes.
Add a little oil to the roasting pan, place the turkey in, breast side up. This is now ready for basting.
Roasting the turkey
Pre-heat the oven to 190 C/Fan170 C/Gas Mark 5.
Using a spoon and brush, glaze the turkey. Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 30 minutes, then turn down the temperature to 180 C/Fan 160 C/Gas Mark 4, basting from time to time until the turkey is cooked -- check this by piercing the turkey with a skewer or sharp knife where the thigh meets the body and the juices should run clear.
Suggestions for roasting: Wrap the turkey in heavy foil to avoid a messy roasting pan. Use a turkey oven bag -- it keeps in all the delicious flavours and keeps the bird very moist.
Place the turkey on a trivet of sliced onions and rosemary.
Marsala turkey gravy
Uses the giblets, and makes about 1.2 litres.
you will need
1 sprig thyme
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, diced
1 bay leaf
2 juniper berries, crushed
1.2 litre water
Juices from the pan
3 tbsps flour
4 tbsps Marsala (or Sherry)
Salt and pepper to taste
Place the giblets, thyme, onion, carrot, bay leaf, peppercorns, juniper berries and water in a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 45 minutes. Skim the foam off.
Strain the stock and set aside. Skim the fat from the pan. Stir in the flour and cook until lightly golden, stirring continuously.
Remove from the heat and slowly add the giblet stock and Marsala. Return to the heat, scraping all the roasting sediments and thickening the sauce.
Simmer for about three minutes, stirring from time to time. Check the seasoning.