Christmas Cooking Series: Turkey and Trimmings By Siobhan Gallagher This week’s recipes and methods include preparing and cooking the turkey, bread stuffing and a ham – staple Christmas fare. The Christmas dinner is so automatically prepared that most people I have spoken to regarding different ideas never use a recipe. The measurements they use seem to be exactly right, and do not come from a cook book. One woman said to me she uses, “a little of this and a little of that…I never measure anything.” Somewhat predictably, then, this idea-gathering method didn’t work, and I had to go back to the cook books again! My long-time favorite recipe for the turkey, ham and gravy comes from the Stork Christmas Cooking booklet published by McDonnells around 1970. I could almost smell the roasting turkey as I typed the ingredients, transporting me back in time to a small kitchen in Skreen, Co. Sligo. The ingredients for the stuffing comes from Irish Farm House Recipes, published by Mac Publications, Dublin. Coming from Ireland, Christmas Day was and is the only family-oriented holiday of the year. All the stops are pulled out – it’s eat, drink and be merry. We all have wonderful memories of Christmas Day in Ireland, yet when we come to America we soon find out that we have another holiday to look forward to: Thanksgiving. Any excuse to get together with family and friends makes me very happy, and as a way of acknowledging Thanksgiving, I am including a corn dish. My sister-in-law Erin Gallagher grew up in Indiana and Aunt Mott corn casserole was handed down to her from her grandmother. The recipe was published in What’s Cookin’, First Christian Church Lufkin, Texas, 1981 and was always a holiday staple for Erin’s family. She brought the cooked dish to our house on her very first Thanksgiving dinner with us, and it has become a holiday regular for us for the past eight years. I think you’ll enjoy it. Roast turkey Ingredients: 12 lb oven-ready turkey Salt and freshly ground pepper 5 oz margarine, softened 4 oz olive oil for roasting To flavor body cavity – 1 sliced onion, a sprig of thyme, salt and pepper and 1 oz margarine Oven temperatures: Pre-heat to 425°F for the first half hour; reduce heat to 350° F for the remaining time. Place on the second or third shelf from the bottom. Method: Prepare the stuffing ahead of time, cover and refrigerate Remove the giblets from the turkey and keep to make stock. Rinse turkey very well inside and out, and dry. Fill the breast cavity with stuffing immediately prior to cooking. Do not pack the stuffing too tightly. Truss tie or skewer the turkey to close neck and to hold the legs and wings in place. (Do not tie or skewer too tightly). Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time, allow 20 minutes per lb and 20 minutes over. Spread the breast and legs of the turkey with the softened margarine and season all over with salt and freshly ground pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large roasting tin in the pre-heated oven. Place the prepared turkey, breast side up, in the tin and baste with the hot oil. Cover completely with a piece of foil previously spread with margarine. Roast at the high temperature for the first half hour, then reduce heat and baste frequently during cooking, turning the tin around in the oven to ensure even cooking. Half an hour before the end of cooking time, test by piercing the thickest part of the leg. The juices should run clear. The legs should wiggle in their sockets and there should be brown turkey juice in the tin. If not cooked it is most important to continue cooking until you are satisfied the turkey is fully cooked. Always allow yourself extra time when planning the time to serve your Christmas dinner. Remove the foil for the last half hour and if the turkey is not sufficiently brown turn up the heat to 400°F. Ingredients for stuffing: 1 lb bread crumbs ¼ teaspoon pepper ½ teaspoon mixed herbs 1 teaspoon salt 4 oz margarine or butter 2 teaspoonful chopped parsley 2 oz finely chopped onion 2 oz finely chopped celery 1 lb sausage meat (optional) 2 cloves 1 egg Stock or milk to blend Method: Mix all dry ingredients together and moisten gradually with melted butter, egg, stock or milk if necessary. Honey and whiskey glazed ham 8-10 lb of ham or gammon For flavoring: 1 large onion, peeled and halved 4-6 cloves 2 carrots 2 bay leaves 4 peppercorns 2 tablespoons brown sugar 1 wine glass cider vinegar Honey and whiskey glaze: Cloves 2 level tablespoons dry mustard 1 tablespoon Irish whiskey 3-4 tablespoons honey Method: Check the weight of the ham before steeping, in order to calculate the cooking time. Cover the ham with cold water and steep overnight, then rinse well. You can also place the ham in a saucepan and cover with cold water, bringing to the boil over a moderate heat. Drain and refresh the ham under cold running water, until the water is clear. Place the ham, skin side down in a large saucepan and cover completely with cold water. Bring very slowly to the boil. Add all the flavoring ingredients. Bring back slowly to the boil then reduce to simmering point. Cover and simmer gently until the ham is cooked, allowing approximately 20 minutes per lb. Top up with boiling water, if necessary. Remove from the pan, allow to cool a little, then strip and rind carefully using a sharp knife. Score the fat in a crisscross design and stud with cloves. Heat the oven to 400°F. Honey and whiskey glaze method and finish ham: Place the mustard powder in a bowl, moisten with the whiskey and stir in the honey, mixing well. Place the ham in a roasting tin lined with foil. Spoon the honey glaze all over the fat. Bake in the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes until the fat is glazed and golden. Place the ham on a dish and leave to relax for at least 15-20 minutes before carving. Turkey giblet gravy Ingredients: Giblets of the turkey 1 small celery stick, cut in pieces 1 small onion sliced 1¾ pints water A few parsley stalks 1 bay leaf Small sprig thyme 1-2 chicken cubes Method: Wash the giblets thoroughly, then place in a saucepan with the sliced vegetables. Add the water and parsley stalks, bring to the boil. Skim the surface with a slotted spoon. Add the bay leaf and thyme then cover and simmer very gently for about 1-1 ¼ hours, skimming occasionally. Add a little extra water if necessary. Strain and reserve 1 pint of the stock, add one or two crumbled chicken cubes and stir until dissolved. Gravy method: Strain all the fat from the roasting tin, leaving the sediment and some turkey juices in the tin. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons of flour into the tin and cook over a low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon. Gradually blend in the stock. Bring to the boil, stirring or whisking all the time. Allow the gravy to boil gently to strengthen the flavor. Add more stock if the gravy is too thick. Strain into a small saucepan and deep pot until ready to serve in a sauceboat. Aunt Mott corn casserole Ingredients: 1 lb can yellow cream style corn 1 minced onion ½ minced bell pepper 1 egg 2 cup milk ½ cup of yellow corn meal 1/3 cup olive oil ½ cup bread crumbs 2 tablespoons butter Method: Sauté onion and bell pepper in 1/3 cup oil. Add corn and cook for 10 minutes. Mix together egg and milk and stir until mixture is warm. Add corn meal gradually. Stir until mixture is very thick over slow fire. Put into 2 quarts rather shallow casserole. Top with bread crumbs and dot with butter. Bake around on hour at 350°F. Serves 6.