You ever leave a turkey out to thaw and then forget to put it back in the fridge overnight and then the next day you wake up and realise your mistake and have to run to the grocery store at nine in the morning with the hopes that they are open and still have turkeys for sale on Christmas morning?
This was our first real Christmas as parents and we found ourselves really appreciating all of the work our parents put into our Christmases growing up. (Spoiler Alert: Those presents don’t just appear by themselves.) We put together our first real kid’s toy (a life-size dollhouse that Caia can actually enter, complete with a stove and oven where she can entertain her guests with tea and other treats … that she makes …), and we spent the evening listening to Christmas music, sharing a couple of glasses of wine, reminiscing about our childhoods.
Then we went to bed and I forgot to put the now thawed turkey back in the fridge so that I wouldn’t turn into a bag of sick by morning. Yep. Opening that little present the next morning was little mythological. I swear the souls of all turkeys past flew out of that thing when I pierced the bag the next morning.
But, other than me being a forgetful idiot on Christmas Eve, things went very well. I got to spend the entire day in the kitchen, which was awesome, and we had a feast generally reserved for the end of Dr. Seuss stories.
On the Menu: Sautéed Yellow Bell Peppers with Roma Tomatoes in a Basil-Infused Olive Oil and Balsamic Reduction Dressing, Turkey (Duh), Nutmeg Raisin Stuffing, Brussel Sprouts, Roasted Vegetables with Squash, Carrots, Asian Pears (LOOK UP), and Onions, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Apple Pie à la mode, Sugar Pie
Yeah, that’s right: Sugar Pie, bitches. As Canadian as … all right, I’d never heard of it, either, but it is very popular in Eastern Canada and most of us liked it fine. (It’s pie made from sugar. You do the math.)
The turkey was an event. As mentioned already, I left the first turkey out overnight. (Being Santa is hard!) Rushing to the local grocery store only to wait for forty-five minutes for it to open so that I could buy a replacement … like a Norma Rockwell painting, isn’t it?
(You have no idea how guilty I felt! Here it is Christmas, and I’m throwing out a whole Turkey before we’ve even had a chance to reflect on our blessings. I felt sick.)
Once the turkey was in the oven, it was autopilot from that point on. Here’s how I do it, and two years in a row, success. Also? As a bonus? It’s probably the easiest way to cook a bird without running the risk of it being dry. Promise. I’ll bet you a whole turkey that if you do it this way … sorry.
Turn the oven up full blast. As high as it will go. Place the bird in a roasting tray and drizzle it with olive oil. Dust it with nutmeg, cinnamon, garlic, salt, pepper, and half-a-cup of brown sugar. Cut a white onion into quarters and toss it around the bird. Break one stick of cinnamon and sprinkle the shards around the tray. Scatter six or seven cloves. Toss in five or six stars anise. Pour a whole beer into the tray with bird and all. (NB: it works better with a stouter beer, like a porter, or Guinness. If you are feeling particularly festive, you might want to use a chocolate beer or a Christmas ale … the more flavour, the better the result.)
Put the lid on the roasting tray and place in oven for twenty minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 180 degrees Celsius for about forty-five minutes per kilogram. Every hour, take the tray out and coat the turkey in the juice.
If you calculated right, you should be left with about an inch of liquid which makes a perfect base for your gravy. The meat should be shrinking away from the legs.
(For recipes for the sides, just email us and we’ll happily provide them. You don’t have to wait for next year to try them out! They’re always crowd-pleasers!)
Another thing? Having a big kitchen rocks! There was room enough for Megan, Joseph (Cara and Rene’s father), and me to work and allow guests to get to the fridge and pantry without bumping into us! This Christmas, there were only two stabbings at our house! Two!
In all the running around of the week and moving and junk, Megan and I forgot (didn’t bother) to buy a wine we hadn’t tried before. Luckily for us, our good friend Michael showed up with bottle in hand of another fantastic Canadian red.
Wine: Painted Rock, Estate Grown, Syrah, Okanagan Valley, BC VQA, Canada, 2008, $39.95 CAD
Rating: Three Bottles
This was the absolutely best wine anyone could have picked for Christmas dinner. Very fruity and very amazing, this wine complimented all of the flavours on our table. It was so pleasant – each sip took on a different character. The bouquet enchanted you with it’s BC flavours – cedar, sea salt, and earthy tones played underneath the anise, fennel, and cinnamon notes. Black cherry and dark plums backed up the muskier flavours, making this a very complex, very enjoyable wine.
Our only regret was that Michael only brought one bottle.
And so we finished our evening happy, replete, and thankful.
And that is the point of Christmas dinner, of holiday dinners, in general – to bring people together, to end the story on a high note, to leave everyone with that “feel good” feeling. We sit around the table, smiling as we eat, share stories, make toasts, drink, love, and laugh.
And so we wrap up our Christmas with a hope that yours was as amazing as ours and that your families were as blessed as ours.