Mulled wine, eggnog, turkey, ham … all of these are familiar items on the menu when it comes to the festive season. Some are quick and easy to make and some require an awful lot of preparation with a few choice swear words thrown in.

The supermarkets are open on Christmas Eve, so even if you do not have all of these ingredients in the house, there is still time to right a terrible wrong and get everything you need for some delightful holiday creations.

Ultimate eggnog recipe

Serves 8

  • 3 cups (700ml) whole milk
  • 1 cup (240ml) heavy or double cream
  • 3 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 vanilla bean pod, split and seeds removed
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, plus more for garnish
  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 2/3 (130g) cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (175ml) dark rum or bourbon

In a saucepan, combine milk, cream, cinnamon, vanilla bean, vanilla seeds, and nutmeg. Bring to the boil over a medium heat. Once boiling, remove from the heat and allow to steep.

In a large bowl or stand mixer, beat egg yolks and sugar until combined and thick ribbons form when the whisk is lifted. Slowly whisk in the milk and continue to mix until the mixture is combined and smooth. Add bourbon or rum, and stir. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.

Before serving, beat the egg whites in a large bowl or stand mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold into eggnog until combined. Serve and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.

Brined and roasted Christmas turkey

Serves 14

  • 3 cups coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 5 cups sugar
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 2 medium leeks, white and pale-green parts only, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 3 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 fresh whole turkey (18 to 20 pounds), rinsed and patted dry, giblets and neck reserved for gravy
  • Gravy
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
  • Chestnut Stuffing
  • Crab apples, fresh rosemary sprigs, and fresh sage, for garnish (optional)

Put salt, sugar, onions, leeks, carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and 10 cups water in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, stirring until salt and sugar have dissolved. Remove from heat; let brine cool completely.

Add turkey, breast first, to the brine. Cover; refrigerate 24 hours. Remove from brine; pat dry with paper towels. Let stand at room temperature 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in lowest position. Stir together melted butter and wine in a medium bowl. Fold a very large piece of cheesecloth into quarters so that it is large enough to cover breast and halfway downsides of turkey. Immerse cloth in butter mixture; let soak.

Place turkey, breast side up, on a rack set in a roasting pan. Fold wing tips under turkey. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper inside turkey. Loosely fill body and neck cavities with stuffing. Tie legs together with kitchen twine. Fold neck flap under; secure with toothpicks. Rub turkey all over with softened butter; season with salt and pepper.

Remove cheesecloth from butter mixture, squeezing gently into bowl. Reserve butter mixture for brushing. Lay cheesecloth over turkey. Place turkey, legs first, in oven. Roast 30 minutes. Brush cheesecloth and exposed turkey with butter mixture. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees. Roast, brushing every 30 minutes, 2 1/2 hours more; cover with foil if browning too quickly. If making gravy, add giblets and neck to pan 1 1/2 hours after reducing temperature; roast 30 minutes, and reserve.

Discard cheesecloth; rotate pan. Baste turkey with pan juices. Roast, rotating pan halfway through, until skin is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 180 degrees and stuffing reaches 165 degrees, about 1 hour. Transfer to a platter. Set pan with drippings aside for gravy. Let turkey stand at room temperature at least 30 minutes. Garnish, if desired.

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