Christmas Dinner 2007

Found some goose breast crowns in LIDL, weighing about a kilo each, for £8. The instructions were to roast at 200 (Gas Mark 6) for an hour, and that worked really well. I was using a single small oven this year, and that let me roast the potatoes underneath and the celery stuffing on the bottom.

Two of them gave off about a pint of good quality fat, and we carved off two whole breasts from each one, one breast per person. That was a large portion of solid meat, and there was a spare breast for slices if seconds were required.

The German meat stall at the Sheffield Christmas Market sold sealed longlife bags of shredded red cabbage cooked in apple juice, I microwaved one of them as a veg.

Dad did his oriental braised sprouts, and carrots with soy sauce and star anise. There were some steamed new potatoes, as well as the roasties.

Plain gravy made in the goose roasting tin, with some Chardonnay left over from Christmas Eve supper.

EDIT: Whoops, forgot, apple butter sauce with cloves as well

Bottle of Quinze President with main course.

A Waitrose "richly fruited" christmas pudding, with cream or white sauce, and a tiny bottle of Royal Tokay wine.

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Legendary Sprout Kebabs

Following this post last year, I made some sprout kebabs for a belated Bonfire Party last night. I didn't get very extravagant, I thought I'd try out the basic idea before messing with it.

I microwaved a pack of trimmed brussels sprouts for 7 minutes, which was the recommendation on the pack, and let them cool. I made a little bowl of spice mix using roughly ground black pepper, allspice, and freshly grated nutmeg. I took a rasher of smoked streaky bacon, dipped an end in the spices, and rolled it around a sprout until it had gone all the way round and little bit over to secure it. Stuck a bamboo skewer through it, and cut off the excess bacon. It worked out at two sprouts balls per rasher, and I put two on each skewer. I tried originally dunking the sprouts in the spice mix, but it didn't stick, whereas it clung nicely to the fatty bacon.

Cooking times would depend on method, I put them on a barbeque on a windy November evening, so they took a while, and didn't get really golden and crisp.

The sprouts were soft and delicate, with surprisingly little of that overcooked metallic brassica taste. The spice mixture set the whole thing off a treat. Most people tried one, which I didn't expect, and liked them as well. Alice is thinking about doing them as a vegetable / garnish at Christmas. We discussed the hot bread sauce as a dip to go with them, and that would certainly make a winter party item.

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Brussels Sprout Kebabs

Now, someone who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty brought Brussels Sprout Kebabs to a Bonfire Party on Saturday. Which was a stroke of genius, and yes, I did try one. But all he'd done was stick 4 sprouts on a skewer and grill them. So the outside was hard and crisp and the inside was softer but chewy, where it had steamed in its own water, but not enough.

We had a long conversation about how to improve them, and came up with the following ideas:

1) probably parboiling them for a few minutes beforehand would be a good idea

2) you could thread other things in amongst them – hard nuts would not work, but chestnuts might if you were prepared for them falling apart. Thinking about it again now, halloumi cheese might be good. I know you're thinking chunks of bacon, we'll come onto that in a bit.

3) marinading or at least basting – some kind of flavoured melted butter or oil. Nut oils such as hazelnut would be good by themselves, butter – you could add finely chopped onion, garlic, nutmeg, black pepper, ground nuts such as almond or hazelnut, honey, parmesan – although not all of them at once! just a select few. This was where we starting thinking about bacon, but we didn't take it far enough.

4) the blindingly obvious thing to do, now I've been writing it down, is Sprout Rumaki. Take your parboiled sprout, cut it in half, and match it up with half a chestnut to form a globular construct. Season with your choice of spices, but don't add salt. Wrap the globe in thin fatty bacon, preferably smoked, and secure with a toothpick. Grill until the bacon is done and crispy and the insides are nice and hot. Serve with a savoury dip – creamy bread sauce would be best of all …

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Brussels Sprout Soup

Posted this as a comment somewhere else, for someone who was thinking of freezing brussels sprouts. Cautioned her against it, but recommended soup. I was in the supermarket last week, even though it is still quite warm for September, longing for fresh sprouts.

 

Buttery and creamy-smooth, top with something sweet and crunchy – parsnip crisps, parmesan biscuits, shredded caramelised fried onion, or toasted almonds.

I like nutmeg in the soup, but a cream sherry flavouring or a dash of maple syrup and lemon peel works well too.

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