With the oncoming debacle of Christmas dinner for 11 hungry souls looming ever nearer, my head is awash with an endless jumble of ingredients and a constantly changing timetable of pre-cooking. This early prep is essential for the avoidance of my total meltdown on Christmas Day.
Spatial awareness is being stretched to its maximum by the limitations of both fridge and oven space and I haven’t even started to consider the availability of the necessary serving dishes and crockery. I do know one thing for certain…I don’t have 11 of anything.
I have, however, made the gravy stock by straining the cooking juices from 2 of Marks and Spencer’s (cook in the bag) oven-roasted Rotisserie Style Chickens. All this needs is a butter and flour roux and I will have instant gravy nirvana. The Fatdog is ecstatic as from the cooked legs comes her chicken-treat supply.
Tomorrow evening I’ll make the cranberry and kumquat sauce, flavoured with whatever alcohol lurks in the darkest depths of the cupboard under the stairs. Just now the only debate is the sweetener. Do I go for ordinary sugar or do I risk the treacle tar of the molasses variety? Problems, problems.
For part of the starter I’ll boil up a small quantity of stock syrup with a decent lump of ginger then reduce it down. That will do nicely for drizzling over the Charentais melon and I reckon a scatter of finely diced red and green chilli will encourage the plate to look appropriately festive. A plus will be the look on mother-in-law’s face when the chillies bite from that innocuous looking melon starter.
It was the chef Nick Nairn who, in what was probably his earliest book, provided the recipe for what has become my piece de resistence, the gratin dauphinoise. Hard to beat that more-ish combination of sliced potatoes, garlic and cream topped with grated parmesan. This is main target for The Bleating Sheep who has been known to dispose messily of any possible challengers for seconds.
Fortunately I’m not having to cook the whole meal which is a relief.
J will be doing her trifle; The Cupcake Queen will be bringing the turkey – all cooked and ready to go. Cap’n Jack will be making his excellent smoked salmon pate and The Bleating Sheep is having a go at pavlova.
Yes, it will be utter and complete carnage in the kitchen and I can see Chef having a wobbly and tossing the utensils out of the pan.