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Christmas Dinner Recipes

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published December 17th 2010
For all its flaws the traditional Christmas dinner, after which the words 'with all the trimmings' belong, is one meal that everyone should experience once in their lives. If you missed out as a kid because your parents were too progressive, or vegetarians, then don't despair, it's never too late to appreciate this singularly put together meal of prawn cocktail, followed by roast turkey, and Christmas Pudding to finish.

Part of the beauty of Christmas dinner is that Christmas is one of those days where people start eating and drinking early, so even though the meal in traditionally served a lot later than it was intended to be people often sit down already full on the sweets, nuts and chocs that have been laid out to graze on.

So while the quality of the food and drink is, of course important, the most important part of creating a perfect Christmas dinner is making sure you have a wonderful group of your favourite people gathered around the table and spirits are running high. A good way to cook the perfect cheer is to have your table laid with more than just crusty baguette and butter, but to have Christmas crackers laid out for all your guests – providing everyone with a paper hat and a joke worthy of your Grandad is a good way to coax on some jolly banter.

First Course: The Perfect 70s Prawn Cocktail
Retro and traditional go hand in hand here. Prawn cocktail works because you can prepare it early and leave it in the fridge. It's also relatively light and most still people think that prawns are a bit of a treat.
If you're really serious you can make your own dressing by throwing 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 6 tablespoons of roughly chopped fresh coriander, 2 tablespoons of lime juice, 2 tablespoons of apricot jam and a de-seeded chilli into your blender with 275g mayonnaise. That should then be poured over 900g of cooked, peeled prawns. Which in turn should be spooned on top of a salad of ½ a shredded white cabbage, 2 thinly sliced fennel bulbs, 2 baby gem lettuces and two segmented grapefruit.

Main Course: Stuffed Turkey with bread sauce
Turkey takes a long time to cook, so this is the bit of Christmas that often goes a bit awry. This recipe is for a 4kg bird, but cooking times will vary. This recipe also demands a large piece of muslin.
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Put the turkey into your largest, deepest roasting tin and rub salt and pepper into its skin. While you're doing this melt 175g of unsalted butter in a saucepan and soak the muslin in it, then lay it on top of the turkey. Pour 300mls of water into the bottom of the pan and put it in the oven for 3 hours and 20 minutes – basting the turkey in its own juices every 30 minutes or so. Check that the juices run clear when you skewer it before you take it out of the oven.
When you take the turkey out of the oven strip it of its muslin and transfer it onto your serving dish, covering it in foil to keep the heat in – you're supposed to 'rest' a turkey before you eat it.
While you're cooking the turkey you can pretty much prepare all the other courses and condiments, especially the bread sauce to serve with your turkey:

Stick four cloves into a small onion and drop it into a saucepan with 450mls of milk then bring the whole thing gently to the boil. Remove the onion and replace it with 100g of fresh breadcrumbs so that your mixture gets nice and thick and saucy, then season with nutmeg and salt, stir in 2 tablespoons of double cream and season again. Pour the sauce into a pre-warmed pouring dish and sprinkle with cayenne pepper.

Roast Potatoes, Honey Glazed Root Veg and Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta
Consult the experts for your side dishes. Here's Delia's recipe for the ultimate Roast Potatoes, Chef Joey Altman 's Honey Roasted Root Vegetables, and Gordon Ramsay's Brussels Sprouts with Pancetta.

To Finish: The Pudding
The Pudding you need to do a LONG WAY in advance – several weeks is best, as a good pudding also rests. This part of the preparation is so involving that it deserves its own WEN, so here's my Grandmother's Pudding Recipe. Serve this one with brandy butter, custard or ice cream.

Coffee, port, after dinner mints, cognac and anything else you think your guests might need to finish them off should be provided at this point. So that everyone is relaxed enough to roll themselves away from the table and join in with a game of Trivial Pursuit.
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Why? Sigh... This recipe should make for a very, very happy Christmas...
When: Christmas day
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