Monday, December 24, 2012

Diary of a Christmas Dinner: Part 4

Christmas Eve Prep

Today is the day we do all the prep work for tomorrow’s big day. Yesterday, I made the cranberry sauce as per the advice I received from a fellow customer at Urban Fare. As we were both picking up bags of cranberries, she asked if I made the sauce as per the recipe on the bag; I told her I don’t make the sauce, my husband does. (I don’t eat cranberry sauce with my turkey; I just can not get used to having sweet sauce with savoury meat. I don’t like ham and pineapple on my pizza either.) She suggested I make it as per the recipe and, once it’s cool, add some Grand Marnier or Cointreau. I did just that. I like it, but I’d be more tempted to put it on toast rather than eat it with turkey. But that’s just me.

On today’s slate – the dressing and the basting liquid/gravy base.

Incidentally, John changed his mind and decided to brine the turkey anyway. It’s been outside (it’s hovering around the freezing mark, colder than the refrigerator, which is stuffed to the gills so the turkey wouldn’t fit even if it had to) all night.

When John got up, the first thing he did, even before coffee, was to dump out the brining liquid and set the turkey on a rack in the brining pot. Now it will dry until tomorrow morning.

The Stuffing

The stuffing is made up of three components: the fruit, the seasonings, and the filler. The recipe calls for each component to mixed up in its own bowl, then the three combined and mixed “until your wrists and forearms hurt”.

Here we go…

In Bowl #1 we have apple, orange, lemon, water chestnuts, ginger, and crushed pineapple.

In Bowl #2 – cloves, mustard, caraway, celery seeds, poppy seeds, oregano, bay leaf, black pepper, mace, parsley, garlic, turmeric, onions, celery, marjoram, savory, poultry seasoning, and some salt. I mixed the dry ingredients together, then the vegetables and then mixed them all up together. I foolishly thought the small bowl would be big enough. Hah!

In Bowl #3 are the bread crumbs and the melted fat rendered from the turkey fat, butter, bread crumbs, ground veal, and ground pork.

We thought that our largest mixing bowl would be large enough for everything but we had to resort to using one of the plastic tubs I use as a knitting basket. After a good washing, the knitting will go back into the bowl but for now, it’s just right!

The dressing is now all mixed up and in the refrigerator, ready for the turkey tomorrow. There’s just one thing left. The basting liquid/gravy base.

This mixture of the neck, the gizzards, and seasonings is now simmering on the stove and will continue to simmer until tonight, and then again tomorrow, until we’re ready to use it. It will be basted on to the turkey every 15 minutes during the cooking process.

Yes, it’s a lot of work but it’s been fun to get this part of the prep work done with both of us contributing. And, to be honest, it really hasn’t taken all that long to get to this point… perhaps an hour between the two of us. I think, in my opinion, the toughest part was chopping the onions. All four of them… large onions.

I know this is turning into a long post, but I have to tell you that, at this point, the simmering basting liquid smells amazing and even the dressing smelled pretty good while I was mixing it. Even having a small nibble to test for salt levels indicated that the dressing is going to be pretty tasty, too. This could be good!


  1. Wow! What an assembly line!! I hope it turns out spectacularly!!!

    the secret to getting your Christmas Cactus to bloom is - trumpets & drum roll - at least 12 hours of darkness. Mine stay outside under the picnic table all summer - no direct sun - North would be the best but I face West - and come in just before the first frost. They've already set buds & bloom when they come in. The cuttings in the jars on the window sill - forgotten for a couple of years - are blooming now since they set buds later because of the house lights. You can put the plants in a closet for a week or in an unused room to force them to bud.

  2. It is 6:50 on Christmas morning that I am reading this latest post. No matter how much cooking I have to do today, every time I start to feel a bit exhausted I will just think about what is happening at your home in Kelowna and know I have it easy. :-)