Christmas Day 2011: The Main Event

Finally, we’ve made it to the big day: Christmas Day. Usually I would have everything planned weeks in advance, but this year I was so busy that I hadn’t had the time so I was stressed out of my mind! It all came together in the end though!

Check out this year’s table! I decided to add some red to my usual blue/silver colour scheme to make it more Christmasy. I got $2 red placemats and $2 blue glasses from Ikea – bargain! Like last year, I made my own bon-bons and filled them with lindt chocolate balls. I think it’s important to dress the table at Christmas – it makes sitting down to eat that much more special.

Now on to the food! I knew I had to do some sort of poultry, but I am not the biggest fan of turkey, so when I saw a recipe in Donna Hay for turkey breast poached in white wine, I thought this might be a good substitute. It eliminates most of the hard work involved with carving turkey, and anything involving less effort on Christmas Day is a good thing!

Every year, we do a rolled pork stuffed with prunes and apples (like last year), but I was bored of doing the same thing. This year, I decided to try another Donna Hay recipe: pork belly with caramelized onion, garlic and quince sauce. After 4 hours in the oven, it was literally melt-in-your mouth tender. Amazing.

To finish my trio of mains, we usually do a traditional ham, but every year, there always seems to be so much leftover. So with Mother K’s blessing, this year I replaced the ham with roast beef. Everyone loved it! Being Christmas, I decided to spruce it up with the addition of truffle mayonnaise – how decadent. If you can’t eat truffles at Christmas, when can you? I bought a little bottle of truffle mayonnaise for $20 from the Camberwell Market and used about half of it, but it was well worth it.

For sides, I decided on green beans with tomatoes and speck after my trip to Gorski and Jones. There, I’d had their peas done in a similar way with tomatoes and bacon, but I decided it needed to be more special, queue the beans and cherry tomatoes!

I was sick of regular roast potatoes, so found a great recipe for duchess potatoes, whcih are essentially mashed potato piped into mounds and baked until golden. Being in such a rush on the day, I didn’t read my recipe properly so my oven wasn’t as hot as it should have been, resulting in flat potatoes.. So be sure to put yours in a searing hot oven so they keep their shape! I also made a pumpkin, caramelized onion, rocket and feta salad to replace the usual roast pumpkin.

I also wanted something clean and simple to go with the pork, so I made a pearl barley with fennel and pomegranate salad. The pomegranate looks so festive amongst the green I thought. And to round out the sides, of course I had to have my Red Cabbage. Yum!

It was a bit of a mad rush to get everything on the table – Mother K and Father T helped out by carving the meats, which I threw together the sides. Everything looked amazing sitting on the bench though, waiting for everyone to dig in!

I left Father T with the very capable job of making the pudding for dessert. After such a big meal, I don’t know how anyone fits anything in, so I never do anything too complicated. It’s always just the pudding, which Father T pours hot brandy over and sets alight for a bit of entertainment!

To go with the pudding, Father T usually makes hard sauce, but this year I instructed him to make whipped brandy butter, a recipe I found on it pleases us. It has much of a similar taste, but with the texture of cream, rather than a rock..

And that was it for our Christmas eating! So much preparation gone in such a short amount of time. I did enjoy eating the leftovers over the following days though.. Merry Christmas (rather late I know!).

CHRISTMAS DAY MENU FOR 16

Poached Turkey w/ white wine gravy
Pork Belly w/ garlic, caramelised onion and quince sauce
Roast Beef w/ truffle mayonnaise

Pearl barley, fennel and pomegranate salad
Pumpkin, caramelized onion, rocket and feta salad
Green beans with tomato and pancetta
Duchess Potatoes
Red Cabbage (recipe here)

Christmas Pudding (recipe here)
Whipped brandy butter
Ice Cream
Whipped Cream

POACHED TURKEY W/ WHITE WINE GRAVY
(recipe by Donna Hay)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 x 1.6kg turkey breast fillet, skin on
sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 cup (250ml) dry white wine 
3 cups (750ml) chicken stock
3 bay leaves
peel of 1 lemon
5 sprigs of thyme
1 tsp black peppercorns
30g butter
2 1/2 tbsp plain flour

  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over high heat.
  2. Sprinkle the turkey with salt and pepper and cook, skin side down, for 5 minutes or until golden. Turn and cook for a further 5 minutes or until golden.
  3. Place turkey in a large baking dish with the wine, stock, bay leaves, lemon peel, thyme and peppercorns and cover tightly with lightly greased aluminium foil. Cook for 1 hour – 1 hour 10 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the poaching liquid, reserving the liquid, and keep warm.
  4. Strain the liquid and set aside. Melt the butter in a large saiucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the cooking liquid and bring to the boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes or until thickened.
  5. Slice the turkey and serve with the white wine gravy.

Serves 6-8


PORK BELLY W/ GARLIC, CARAMELIZED ONION AND QUINCE SAUCE
(recipe by Donna Hay)

300g quince paste, roughly chopped
1/2 cup (175g) golden syrup
3 cups (750ml) water
1 cup (250ml) malt vinegar
3 brown onions, peeled and thickly sliced
1 x 2.5kg piece boneless pork belly
10 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of thyme

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Place the quince paste, golden syrup, water and vinegar in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to the boil and cook, whisking, for 1 minute or until smooth.
  3. Place the onion in a very large, deep baking dish and top with the pork, skin side down. Add the garlic and thyme and pour over the quince mixture. Cover with foil and roast for 3 hours and 30 minutes.
  4. Remove foil, turn over pork and roast for a further 30 minutes or until tender.
  5. Slice pork thickly and serve with the strained pan juices.

Serves 6-8


ROAST BEEF W/ TRUFFLE MAYONNAISE

2 x 1kg beef eye fillets
salt and pepper
olive oil
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp lemon juice
300ml canola oil
50ml truffle oil

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Generously rub beef fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a little olive oil in a large pan and cook beef fillets on all sides until sealed, about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Transfer beef to a roasting tray and roast in a hot oven for 25 minutes for medium rare. Allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing thickly.
  4. FOR THE MAYONNAISE: Place the egg and egg yolk, mustard, lemon juice and some salt and pepper in a blender and whiz to combine. Combine the oils in a jug, then, with the motor running, slowly pour oil through the feed tube until you have a thick emulsion.

Serves 6-8


PEARL BARLEY, FENNEL AND POMEGRANATE SALAD

250 gm pearl barley
1 cup (firmly packed) flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
2 baby fennel bulbs, halved, thinly sliced
1 celery heart, thinly sliced
80 ml (1/3 cup) extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp oregano, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
finely grated rind and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp chilli flakes
1 pomegranate

  1. Cook barley in a saucepan of boiling water until tender (20-25 minutes), rinse with cold water and drain.
  2. Combine barley with remaining ingredients except for pomegranate and season to taste.
  3. Cut pomegranate in half and with the back of a spoon, tap the back of the pomegranate to remove the seeds. Transfer salad to a serving plate and scatter with pomegranate seeds before serving.

Serves 4


PUMPKIN, CARAMELIZED ONION, ROCKET AND FETA SALAD

1kg kent pumpkin, skin on, seeds removed, cut into wedges
olive oil
1kg red onion, peeled, thickly sliced
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 cup malt vinegar
100g baby rocket leaves
200g danish feta

  1. Preheat oven to 200C.
  2. Place pumpkin on a baking tray and lightly drizzle with olive oil. Bake in a hot oven for 30-40 minutes or until tender. Remove and allow to cool.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large pan melt butter and add 1 tbsp olive oil. Add onions and fry until soft, about 10 minutes. Add brown sugar and continue cooking until dark and caramelized, about 10-15 minutes. Add vinegar and stir until onions are thick and sticky. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  4. Combine pumpkin, caramelized onions, and rocket. Crumble over feta before serving.

Serves 6-8


GREEN BEANS W/ TOMATO AND PANCETTA

500g green beans, ends trimmed
150g speck, cut into 1cm cubes
500g cherry tomatoes
400g cherry tomato pasta sauce
salt and pepper

  1. Blanch beans in boiling, salted water for 5-8 minutes until just tender. Rinse and drain. Set aside.
  2. In a hot dry pan, fry speck until fat has rendered and it has become crispy, about 5 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and pasta sauce and bring to the boil.
  3. Stir through beans and cook until beans have warmed through. Season to taste.

Serves 8


DUCHESS POTATOES

2kg desiree potatoes, peeled, roughly chopped
4 egg yolks
100g butter, melted
salt and pepper 

  1. Preheat oven to 220°C/200°C fan-forced. Grease a large baking tray. Line with baking paper.
  2. Place potato in a saucepan. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Boil for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Mash. Using a large metal spoon, press potato through a fine sieve into a bowl. Add egg yolk and the butter. Season with salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  3. Spoon mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 2cm fluted nozzle. Pipe 3cm rosettes onto prepared tray.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Serves 6-8


WHIPPED BRANDY BUTTER

200g softened butter
250g pure icing sugar, sieved
1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or the seeds from 1 vanilla bean)
40ml brandy
1 eggwhite

  1. Beat butter in an electric mixer until light and very fluffy (6-8 minutes).
  2. Add icing sugar in batches, beating well to combine. Add spices and vanilla and continue to beat until the mixture is well combined.
  3. While the electric mixer is running, pour in the brandy in a thin stream and continue beating until incorporated.
  4. Finally, beat in eggwhite until light and very fluffy (4-5 minutes).
  5. Transfer to serving bowl and dust with extra cinnamon.

Makes about 2 cups

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2 Responses to Christmas Day 2011: The Main Event

  1. Mother K says:

    Christmas lunch was particularly yummy this year … nice to get away from the traditional recipes …I especially liked the beef and truffle mayonnaise and the pork belly … :)

  2. Pingback: A quaint little Christmas Day for 2012 | the MELBOURNE FOOD FILES

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