Hello everyone and Happy New Year! It’s been awhile since I last posted because unfortunately we were all sick in December and straight into the holidays. Although Christmas has come and gone, I still wanted to share my experience hosting Christmas Dinner.
Every year for Christmas my sister usually hosts our family dinner; however since she was knee-deep in relocating her salon, the privilege and responsibility to host Christmas Dinner became my duty this holiday season. Although we were all under the weather the aroma of a roasting turkey with a savoury stuffing made the effort worthwhile. While trying to stay close to my Mom’s recipe and I changed some of the ingredients because of dietary reasons and lack of some. Usually my Mom makes the stuffing with white long grain rice and adds pine nuts. Since we are trying to make healthier eating choices, I changed the white long grain rice to brown rice and the pine nuts for pecans. Both ingredients gave the stuffing a nuttier flavour and hearty texture. The most exciting thing for me in preparing the turkey was using ingredients from an organic farmer based out of Barrie, ON. Nutrafarms provides locally grown, natural, hormone and anti-biotic meat products since 2001. I must say that their bacon is out of this world. Aside from the flavour which totally rocked the stuffing and gave the turkey more depth; the texture and meatiness of the bacon surpassed any superstore brand bacon. I was impressed on the ratio of meat to fat the bacon had and that when I browned the bacon the texture was meaty without being overly salty.
The preparing of the stuffing and then stuffing the turkey was done the say before so that everything was ready to go on Christmas Day for the roasting.
Christmas Eve – Brown Rice Stuffing
2 cups brown rice
1/2 lb of organic bacon, thinly sliced
1 cube of butter
2 onions, diced
5 garlic cloves, diced
1 celery stalk, thinly chopped
1 cup of white wine
3 cups of boiled water
1 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1/2 tbsp basil
200 g Gouda cheese, shredded
1 cup chopped pecans
1. I browned the bacon in a large, deep pan until the fat was rendered off the bacon and the flesh was slightly brown in colour. I set it aside and left the bacon juices in the pan.
2. I sautéed the celery, onions and garlic in the bacon juices and 1 cube of butter until slightly softened. As the vegetables were sauteing I seasoned the pan with the sage, thyme and basil.
3. I added the brown rice to the vegetables and poured in the wine and boiled water. I allowed the liquid to come to a boil and then reduced the heat to a simmer. The rice simmered for 30 minutes.
4. Before removing the stuffing from the stove top and folded in the bacon, Gouda cheese and pecans.
20 lbs turkey
1 tbsp basil
1 tbsp sage
1 tbsp thyme
1 cup white wine
1 cup boiled water
2 celery stalks
1 large onion, quartered
4 to 5 garlic cloves
1. Before marinading the turkey, I washed the flesh and the inside crevice of the bird with a lemon and then sprinkled every inch with salt and pepper.
2. In a large roasting pan, I laid the celery, carrots, onion, garlic and bay leaves on the bottom before placing the turkey on top of the vegetables.
3. I poured a generous amount of olive oil over the turkey and rubbed on the seasonings; sage, thyme and basil.
4. Once the stuffing had cooled down slightly, I stuffed all the crevices of the turkey with the stuffing; front, back and between the wings and legs.
5. Lastly, I poured into the bottom of the pan the wine and water. Covered the pan and placed it in the refrigerator to marinade until the next day.
Christmas Day – Roasting of the turkey
At 6:00 am in the morning I preheated my oven to the maximum temperature of 525 F. Once the oven reached that temperature I placed the turkey uncovered for 15 minutes. This allows the skin of the turkey to bubble and crisp up nicely right at the beginning of the roasting process. After 15 minutes I lowered the temperature of the oven to 325 F, covered the turkey with the lid and continued to roast for 6 hours. At 3 hours into the roasting I basted the turkey several times and then continued cooking for another 3 hours. By noon my condo was filled with the delicious aroma of roasted turkey. I felt happy and proud that my family could enjoy my turkey and stuffing on the most joyous day for Christians all over the world. Thank you God for giving me the gift of cooking so that I feed my family.