December 26, 2009

Christmas Day

Boxing day is a wonderful day. The pressure of Christmas day is gone and everyone is allowed to sit...maybe watch the cricket...and pig out on leftovers that you couldn't manage the day before. It is a relaxing time that is totally my speed. A day where you mosey home, take it easy, play with your Christmas present haul and finally breathe after the Christmas expectation countdown.

We normally go to my grandparent's house in Toowoomba for Christmas in my family. We didn't go last year, because it is a big drive to have all in one day when you fit a big meal in on top of it, but my grandparents' declining health meant that going to Toowoomba this year was an absolute must for me.

Whenever we have gone to Toowoomba in the past my Gran has cooked Christmas lunch. We would have Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and then get up early to drive and arrive in decent time. Once we were there my Gran would be running around like a headless chook trying to get everything together for the most amazing piece of roast sirloin of beef with gravy, roast potatoes, roast sweet potatoes, roast pumpkin, Yorkshire pudding, beans and cauliflower cheese. Life changing...except we wouldn't eat until 3 o'clock and will have been starving ourselves to fit in all that plus dessert.

Gran's Christmas Dinner

The significance of that is that Christmas day would invariably contain and end with an argument...many arguments...tears...dramas...and a whole lot of fuss. The shining experience out of it was that we were all together and VERY thankful for the wood fired, combustion stove at my Gran's house. (So good I plan to keep it!!!)

My Gran these days is too old to do the headless chook dance and my grandad John is in a nursing home and wanted our company so lunch had to be quick and fuss free. And it was...because I prepped it all at home on Christmas Eve and we put it all in the oven once we got to Toowoomba!!!

Our only drama was that the butcher didn't have any roasts left...AT ALL...cleaned out. So improvisation was the name of the day and we took a flat roast pork that we already had in the fridge and I devised a stuffing and rolled it myself. I was very proud.

The Stuffing Recipe That Saved Christmas
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 stick of celery finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic crushed or finely chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying
450 grams turkey or pork mince
1 cup fresh white bread crumbs
1 cup canned chestnuts, chopped
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
2 eggs, beaten

Lightly fry the onion in the oil until golden brown. Add the celery and fry until soft. Stir in the mince, the garlic and bread crumbs and cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chestnuts, dried cranberries, thyme, and parsley. Mix together well and season to taste. Remove from the heat and stir in the beaten egg.

With the pork I did smashed potatoes which I picked up off a demo that I saw Karen Martini do during the year.

Smashed Potatoes
I do this to serve 3

2 or 3 good sized potatoes (I like to use red rascal or Pontiac but any spud will do)
Olive oil (many chefs recommend duck fat or goose fat - not healthy but will yield a much better result)

Cut the potatoes in to chunks.

Fill a pot with water and bring to the boil. Add the potatoes and boil until you can just start to sink a fork into them. Take them off the heat and drain the water off. Put them back into the pot and put the lid on. Shake the pot so that the potatoes start to break up a bit but still remain in tact.

Line a baking dish or tray with aluminium foil and give it a good splash with olive oil. Spread the potatoes out and give each one a splash of oil.

Bake in a moderate to high oven until golden and crispy (Anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour depending on how big you cut the potatoes).

Then it was just a matter of rolling and roasting the pork and potatoes. Making some salads. Sorting out a dessert that we could take out to the nursing home to share with John and packing it all up and getting there.

The day went swimmingly. So relaxed and just lovely. No mess, no fuss and for the first time I can honestly say…I cooked Christmas lunch in this:

Mini Oven

Meat and Potatoes

Christmas Table

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