What an exciting time of the year! The holidays are getting closer and closer and so is the Christmas dinner. For some this a stressful time to cook with all eyes on the turkey. For others its a chance to be bold and show some flare. Here are 5 tips to having a great Christmas Dinner
1. Use a meat thermometer
It sounds like a no brainer but using a internal temperature probe will insure that you bring your turkey up to a safe temperature without over cooking it. With large pieces of meat it would be a costly mistake to go by feel. Large turkeys will have a tendency of resting up close to 15 degrees F so make sure to keep this in mind when deciding when to stop the cooking process.
2. Marinades, brines, and rubs are your best friend
These techniques will add flavour and moisture to your turkey. Brining in particular will bring an even seasoning to the entire cut of meat. It will also help retain moisture in leaner cuts and insure fattier cuts are cooked through. If you haven’t had the chance to eat a brined turkey then let me tell you, you are missing out!
3. Pay Attention to your vegtables!
Often times the meat is the star of the show. Do you want to know a dirty little secret all chefs know? Vegetables are more important. Why you ask. Vegetables drive the dinner and they are the force behind a menu. They set the tone for the whole season let alone the dinner. When I say “PUMPKIN” you automatically think of the fall season, and spices. But when I say “BEEF”, you don’t make the same connection. Its not like people don’t eat beef in the fall. Vegetables create the theme so make sure they don’t become an after thought but rather a considered aspect of the dinner.
4. Sharing the load
As a chef I am expected to cook Christmas dinner, and I gladly do since its what I love to do and I can do it efficiently. But when the time comes to carve a roast, finish a sauce, saute green beans, and plate a smoked salmon I call in some help. Delegating dishes is a must when cooking a fest and Christmas is no different. My wife takes the job of craving the roast, and I happily give it away so I can make a gravy. Everyone wins and we have an outstanding dinner.
5. Carve like a pro
Table side carving can be a nerve racking experience. Do yourself a favour and separate the breast from the carcass before slicing the meat. Then slice the breast skin side down so you dont rip the skin. The end result will be a perfect cross section of the breast meat and a beautiful crispy skin that’s in tact. Debone dark meat and pile high next to the white meat and you have a dinner to be proud of. Now relax and breakout the Pinot noir, it’s the holiday season.