Christmas is by far my favorite time of year. Everyone is smiling, cities are alight with the glow of decorations and time with family and friends is the most important thing. Not to mention the abundance of food flowing at every table. Traditions and familiarity are part of the story. There are few traditions in my family as set in stone is the food that graces or dining room. I thought it might be nice to inspire you with some of our traditions.
Our family CHristmas:
Roast turkey is a must. I highly recommend sourcing the best quality bird you can afford from a local farm or butcher. It does make a difference. I have discovered the beauty of brining and I am never going back. Simply put, you bathe the bird overnight in water, salt, sugar, herbs and spices. Then you dry it out before cooking. Sounds simple, but boy is it worthwhile.
We have mixed it up over the years with different methods but there is always fruit in the cavity. This helps to keep the inside of the bird moist. My dad insists on laying bacon across the breasts of the bird, nothing wrong with that. More recently, I have started using the butter and cheesecloth method to ensure a golden delicous bird.
If you have a good organic bird, it really won’t take that long to cook. I work with 15 mins per lb and an extra 15 mins. so for a 12lb bird you should cook for 3hrs and 15 mins. The bird does need resting, I would allow at least 1 hour for that size bird.
Ham is also a must and we always cover it in marmalade and stud it with cloves. Delicous. Spiced beef is a Cork speciality, similar to pastrami and is a classic Christmas staple.
The sides are as important to me as everything else. There are a few non-negotiables:
- Roast potatoes – I only need one but it is mandatory.
- Potatoes au gratin – Creamy, garlic goodness
- Creamed Corn- A US import to our family, it could be a favorite for at least one of us!
- Pureed Carrots – Well we need some goodness!
- Brussel sprouts – These are mostly for me, cooked with bacon and butter! How to ruin healthy food in 5 mins!
Cranberry sauce and gravy bring it all together.
While we always have dessert available, few of us partake after dinner. It usually comes out later in the evening when we are settling in to a Christmas movie or in the past, Downton Abbey!
Once a year, I demand dessert. Cinnamon Cottage Cork’s white chocolate and raspberry tart is my one and only. I love to try desserts but rarely order one for myself. This is the one I could consume forever. I may try and recreate it again here in Boston this year. There may occasionally be a Christmas pudding thrown in for good measure in our house and there is always a tin of biscuits under the tree to be picked at.
So thats it, what I cook at Christmas. It never changes and I’m glad of it. I hope each one of you had a wonderful Christmas this year and Santa Claus brings you everything you wish for.