Thursday, December 12, 2013

How to cook the perfect Christmas dinner with all the trimmings...

Cooking Christmas dinner can be one of the most stressful times of the year. This is the one meal you want to look and taste perfect.
I was recently invited to attend the Williams-Sonoma Cooking School, to learn how to cook the perfect Christmas dinner with all the trimmings. Now, I'm not the most confident of cooks (especially when it comes to roasts), so this was my type of class. Aside from making mashed potato, everything else on the menu was new to me. Roast turkey with pancetta and sage stuffing, apple and cranberry sauce, turkey gravy, maple-glazed pumpkin, creamy mash all sounded so delicious...and the end result didn't let us down!
With thanks to the wonderful chefs at Williams-Sonoma, I am able to share the recipes with you! The following recipes will feed 6-8 people, depending how indulgent you feel on Christmas day.

Stuffed Turkey Breast
Ask your butcher to butterfly the turkey breasts. This involves splitting the meat almost all the way through so it can be opened out like a book. Then the turkey breasts are filled with a savoury stuffing, and rolled and tied before roasting. During roasting, the stuffing will absorb the flavourful juices from the turkey.
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 500g Pancetta and Sage stuffing (see recipe below)
  • 2 boneless turkey breasts, each about 1kg, butterflied by your butcher and pounded to 1cm thickness
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 220C
  2. Place 1 butterflied turkey breast on a work surface, with the long side nearest you. Season with salt and pepper. Mound 3 cups of the stuffing in the centre, leaving a 2-3cm border on each long side. Fold the long side nearest you over the stuffing to enclose, gently pressing on the filling, then roll to form a cylinder. Do not roll it too tightly or the filling will slip out of the ends. Using kitchen twine, tie the rolled turkey breast crosswise at 2.5cm intervals. Rub the outside of the turkey breast with 1 tbsp of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Repeat with the other turkey breasts. NB. You will have some stuffing left over.
  3. Place the remaining stuffing in the bottom of a roasting pan. Set the turkey breasts, skin side up, on top. Roast for 25 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C. Continue roasting until the skin is crisp (about 40 minutes more) and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breasts registers 75C.
  4. Transfer the turkey breasts to a carving board, cover loosely with foil and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the twine, and cut the turkey into 1cm slices. Serve immediately with turkey gravy.
Pancetta and Sage Stuffing
This stuffing is absolutely delicious baked inside the turkey breast, or served as a side dish! Be might need to make a double batch because it's so yummy.
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 150gm piece of pancetta, cut into 5mm cubes
  • 2 brown onions, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cubes, crushed
  • 2 tbsp shredded sage leaves
  • 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 cups fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until crisp and golden.
  2. Turn the heat to low, then add onion and garlic and stir for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft.
  3. Stir in the sage, then remove from the heat and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  4. Combine the cooled onion mixture in a large bowl with the pine nuts, lemon rind, parsley, breadcrumbs and eggs.
  5. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then use your hands or a wood spoon to mix well.
Use this stuffing to stuff the Turkey Breast (recipe above), or use it as a side dish. To do so, place stuffing mixture into an oven-proof dish, add some nobs of butter on top, and bake until eggs are set and bread is golden. Yum!!
Creamy Mash Potatoes
There are mashed potatoes, and then there are mashed I right?! Follow this recipe for perfect mashed potatoes every single time.
  • 1kg Dutch cream (or similar) potatoes
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into large chunks. Place in a saucepan with water to cover. Salt the water and bring to the boil over medium heat. Cook until the potatoes are tender when pierced with a knife, about 15 minutes. Drain, cover with a tea towel and let stand until dry, about 5 minutes.
  2. In the same pan over medium-high heat, combine the milk and butter, and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Pass the potatoes through a ricer, or place in a bowl and mash with a potato masher. Add the hot milk mixture, and gently beat until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Tips for perfect mashed potatoes...start your potatoes in cool water; choose a waxy potato such as Kipfler or Dutch Cream; infuse a little sage or thyme in the hot milk mixture for extra flavour; if you use cream instead of milk, reduce the amount of butter used.
Apple-Orange Cranberry Sauce
This is a fragrant twist on traditional cranberry sauce, and is so easy, you'll never open a tin of cranberry sauce ever again!
  • 1/2 orange
  • 1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith
  • 3 cups cranberries (dried is okay)
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  1. Squeeze the juice from the orange and set the juice aside. Remove and discard the membrane from inside the orange rind, and cut the rind into a small dice. In a small saucepan over high heat, combine the rind and 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cook for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.
  2. Peel, core and quarter the apple. Cute into 1cm dice and place in a saucepan. Add the cranberries along with the orange juice, reserved rind, sugar, cinnamon and cloves. Bring to the boil over high heat, to low and cover the pan partially. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens, the apple is tender and the cranberries have burst, 10-15 minutes.
  3. Blitz the sauce to your desired consistency...smooth, or perhaps half and half so that you can enjoy the cranberry and apple chunks.
  4. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a heatproof bowl and let cool for 1 hour before serving, or cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before service. Transfer the cranberry sauce to a sauceboat and pass at the table.
Try using the apple and cranberry sauce as an alternative filing for the traditional mince pie. Sprinkle your baked pies with a little icing sugar and serve with double cream or custard...mmmmm....
Now for the fun bit...plate your turkey, sides, and enjoy!
Honestly, this meal was delicious, and I wouldn't share the recipes with you if it wasn't. I can't wait to take on the Christmas lunch, or Sunday roast challenge now.
I highly recommend the cooking classes at Williams-Sonoma. They are fun, informative, and yes, you do get to taste too. Classes are tailored to suit all levels of cooking experience, and cater for a variety of cuisines and events. Check out the Williams-Sonoma Cooking School schedule here to see what wets your taste buds.

Stay tuned for Williams-Sonoma's pumpkin pie recipe...

Disclosure: I attended this event as a guest of Williams-Sonoma. I was not obligated to blog about this event, and no payment was offered, nor requested for this post. All opinions expressed above are those of Lisa Warren of the Life as we know it blog. Recipes courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.

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