Gravy - © acookandherbooks

Special Christmas Edition: Most Commonly Asked Questions

Merry Christmas! I hope you’re planning a special Festive Breakfast to get the big day started! If you’re the one who’s hosting Christmas Dinner this year, I’ve pulled together the answers to my most-asked Christmas Day culinary questions…

Roast Turkey Platter - © Author UnknownTerrific Turkey!

I know. There are dishes you’d like to feature as part of your personal vision for the big Festive feast. But you’re trepidacious. Some of your faves just don’t meet your high standards to serve as part of such a special menu. Fear not. I’ve got your answers.

Terrific Turkey

Rub butter under the skin over the breasts, thighs and legs. That’s going to guarantee a beautiful, brown, crispy skin. Add sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage and other herbs you may like under the breast skin, in the butter.

Do not cook stuffing in the bird. Instead, place Mandarin or Clementine orange segments, more herbs and butter inside the cavity. Close the cavity as if it was stuffed, to keep in the flavour and moisture your additions will provide.

Roast the turkey covered with foil for about 2/3 of its total cooking time. Then remove the foil for the last 30 – 45 minutes to ensure that classic crispy skin.

Sumptuous Stuffing

Make your usual stuffing mixture (or, try my go-recipe!) and lay in an even layer in a casserole dish. Add some boxed Turkey Stock from the store – just enough to cover the bottom of the dish about 1/4 in. / 1 cm deep. Do not compress the mixture! This is important.

Then cover with foil and bake alongside the bird for 45 minutes or so. Remove the foil. Fluff the stuffing gently with a fork. And bake uncovered another 20 minutes or so to crisp up the top.

Great Gravy

Every time. No problem. Just be sure to follow these instructions:

DO pour or skim off any excess fat, leaving behind only the Turkey drippings.

DO NOT not add dry flour to the pan drippings.

ALWAYS make a slurry – one or two tablespoons (depending on the size of the bird and volume of drippings) to 1/3 cup of very cold water. Beat with a fork until all the flour is evenly distributed in the water, and no lumps remain.

Turn up the burner under the roasting pan to medium-low (simmering).

Add the slurry all at once, making sure no flour has settled out to the bottom of the measuring cup.

Stir continually until the gravy begins to thicken. Then simmer for another 15-20 minutes to cook the starchy flavour out of the flour.

Taste for salt and pepper.

Strain the finished gravy into a serving vessel to ensure that no bits of skin or meat get through.

Yes, you can add boxed Turkey Stock from the store if your bird doesn’t produce the volume of drippings you want/need. It’s a sin to run out of gravy when it’s this good!

Masterful Mashed Potatoes

The secrets are, butter and cream. And not so much of them that the potatoes get sloppy. For details see my previous post on Mom’s Mashed Potatoes. Just observe the ‘fundamentals’!

Sexy Scalloped Potatoes

A classic alternative to mashed. But a source of concern for some. I was getting a cut and colour just before the Holidays at my go-to salon a few years back (before Covid) when the stylist working the next chair over asked me how she should get a nice, thick creamy sauce with her Scalloped Potatoes. All she was doing was adding a mixture of milk and cream to the casserole dish before sticking it in the oven.

I’ve never done that. It never works as well as it’s supposed to. So I make a light White Sauce (formally, ‘Bechamel’) and add a couple of handfulls of grated White Cheddar or Monterrey Jack cheese, stirring until it’s completely melted in. Taste the sauce for salt. Be generous. Remember, you’re putting it on potatoes.

I layer the bottom of the casserole with a thin slurp of the cause so the spuds don’t stuck. Then I lay the potato slices in alternated with slices of sweet onion, adding a later of sauce on top of each layer of veggies. I sprinkle more grated cheese on top and finish it off with a garnish of buttered bread crumbs.

Just make it off for about 60-70 minutes as you normally would. Use the toothpick test to make sure the spuds are fork tender.

Beautiful Brussells Sprouts

Par-boil your Brussells Sprouts and then cut them in half vertically. Place them cut sides down in a sauté pan in which you’ve melted a nice knob of butter and a generous punch of salt. Sauté the Sprouts until golden brown all over and sprinkle with Nutmeg before serving. Fresh-ground nutmeg, if you can arrange that!

People who say they don’t like Brussells Sprouts have never tried these!

There you go!

Hope your Christmas Feast is a masterpiece!

~ Maggie J.