The carrot and star anise puree was behaving more like an indoor firework than a vegetable dish to accompany the mandatory brussels sprouts. It had taken a long time to heat up because it was focusing all the heat I gave it on the core of the gloop where it was attempting nuclear fusion. A popular activity with all orange masses. So it was that, despite its unthreatening demeanour, when I removed the glass lid it to give it a stir it spat a blob of superheated orange puree into the air which then described a graceful arc before landing on the overworked and frankly rather stressed out index finger of my right hand where it burned its way through at least eight layers of skin before I got it under the tap.
“Daddy, your turkey is looking very burnt.” was also something of a low point despite having an unburnt goose in the next-door oven. I needed meat for 12 hungry people (at least that was the original brief) and a 5.3kg goose was not going to be enough, hence the 4.5kg turkey. Cooking the turkey in the steam oven promised to be a great idea until the water tank failed mid roast. I pulled the tank out to fill it up and the plug thingy was hanging out on a spring. Something had broken and it wouldn’t hold water so the second half was just hot air and a bit too much of it. Beneath the blackened exterior there was some good meat but there’s no getting away from it, it was not what I’d hoped for. First time I’ve cooked a turkey so it was a bit of an experiment. Will be better next time, if there is a next time.
The goose fared better but after hours of roasting the plump, firm, proud bird that had entered the oven had taken on a slumped and beaten attitude and had been screaming “Okay, I give in!” for at least 30 minutes.
Brussels turned out well, as did the spuds roast in the goose fat and also, surprisingly, the stuffing which had been lovingly prepared using minced meat, cranberries soaked in port, fresh cooked chestnuts (impossible to peel), breadcrumbs and spices.
The birds both rested for the whole time it took to cook the roast spuds and stuffing, about 40-50 minutes, and I was surprised how well they held up. The importance of resting meat is something I’m starting to appreciate more and worry about less.
After a day and a half of preparation and cooking the eating itself took perhaps 20 minutes and maybe half of it was actually consumed. The ravenous teenage boy was not there because he was at home sick. Numerous others were at least partly sick or generally not hungry and one guest had turned vegetarian since we last saw her although she did suspend her sentence to try some of the meat, God bless her! I enjoy cooking a Christmas dinner and there was much praise but I have to say that I do understand why so many people just don’t bother anymore. It is a ridiculous amount of work to provide a gigantic meal at a time when most people just aren’t that hungry. Next year I’m doing something simple like beef bourguignon and mash followed by christmas pud. I can do the whole thing a day ahead of time and on the day I only need to warm it up and mash some spuds.
It was babcia who delivered the coup de grace to Christmas day at our place. We’d rolled in our awning on the terrace weeks ago to protect it from the winter weather. It’s been annoying not being able to use it on the sunny days but better than leaving it out and getting it covered in snow and ice. Mid festivities, babcia decides to pop out for a smoke and rolls out the awning to protect her from the light drizzle, which, before there’s any chance of drying it out and rolling it back in turns into a proper downpour followed by snow and then by freezing temperatures. It’s still out now, frozen stiff and sagging from the weight of snow laying on it. Brilliant!@#$%! Next year I’m removing the handle.
The day before, Christmas Eve had been the Polish version held at B-I-L’s place. A bible reading, wafer breaking, felicitations, the bloody stupid carp, pierogi with cabbage, herrings, vegetable salad….. I waited until we got home and it was after midnight to have myself some proper food, a ham and mustard sandwich!
Boxing day – leftovers followed by Christmas pudding with brandy cream sauce.
Pictures – babcia and kids posing in front of B-I-L’s tree, our table for twelve in preparation, winter balcony views.