christmas – the cooking olympics

Christmas Turkey

Is there no other more food obsessed time than Christmas. From the 24 hour loop of Christmas cooking shows, the onslaught of magazine hints and tips for an incredibly festive spread and the clutter of catalogues from supermarkets and food retailers of everything you need for the perfect yuletide feast.

People fall into one of two camps when it comes to preparing the biggest meal of the year. The ones that begrudgingly bung a turkey in the oven and unwrap a plastic pud to satisfy the masses and those of us who take on the Christmas meal like our life depends on it.

Not surprisingly I fall into the later category.

I come from a family that didn’t usually have a particularly traditional Christmas. The South African family ‘do’ had a mad mix of everything from sliced ham to pots of curry followed by a dessert of chocolate gollywog biscuits (do they still exist?) slathered in cream. As a kid I wasn’t troubled in the slightest at the wonderful mish mash of food types. It was just an opportunity to eat a range of family favourites in large quantities and in any order that you liked.

As I’ve got older, and plainly more fussy in my culinary tastes, I’ve been much keener on a more harmonious take on the Christmas meal. As it’s the only time of year that we roll out turkey, baked ham, pudding and the like, I’ve managed to convince my family to keep the curry for other occasions and fall in line with the country’s approach to Christmas cooking.

My Christmas mandatories are turkey with all the trimmings, a glazed ham (mainly for the post-Christmas ham recipes) and a Christmas pudding for dessert. The beauty of Christmas cooking in this day and age is that you can go as hard or as easy as you like. For instance I don’t have the strength to prepare a pudding from scratch (thanks very much Newcastle Pudding Lady) but think that shelling out $10 for a ham glaze is madness (when you pop some plum jam in the microwave with some garlic, cinnamon and vinegar and be done).

I use to be a little gun-shy about Christmas Turkey, preferring the ready to roll stuffed turkey breast. With moral support provided by my sous chef we now prefer the whole bird and what an impressive beast she is too.

Below is my recipe for an amazing Christmas Turkey. If you don’t know how to truss one of these babies then YouTube has stacks of examples to guide you through.

Happy and holy to you and yours.

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