Phew - two weeks weeding the garden, tidying the house & surrounds, buying stuff for xmas dinner (new folding chairs, food, etc), wrapping prezzies, hanging xmas decorations and lights, going to the dentist, more weeding, cleaning the pool, more cleaning ... I almost wish I was still slaving over my NanoWrimo effort!
Still, the turkey is defrosted in the fridge, the veggies are all peeled, cut, diced & whatever, and everything is ready for a great day tomorrow. We'll have around 20 people over for the day, and I'll be on the go from about 9:30 am, which is when I have to make my Special Stuffing (I just stuck the recipe on my website) Crumbled bacon, bread cubes sauted in olive oil, onion, egg, fresh rosemary and thyme ... last year it was so good people were passing up the turkey and tucking into the stuffing instead.
I'll put the turkey on at 10:30 am, since it's a 5kg size (about 11lb). I've cooked turkeys in our barbecue for the past 10 years, and this one won't be any different. When the summer temp is 38-40 degrees outside (over 105F) you really don't want the oven making things worse, so cooking on the BBQ is the solution. I use shallow oven trays and invert them over the hotplates and grille, then light the outer burners only (4 of the 5, leaving the centre one unlit.) The turkey sits in the middle, and the hood goes down. In our oven we usually roast at 180C, but the BBQ can hit 260-280 with 4 burners on full, so it's important to keep an eye on it.
The turkey will take 3 hours all up, and an hour or so into the cooking I'll put potatoes, pumpkin, whole onions and parsnips in to roast. These sit in baking trays, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt. I usually wrap the pumpkin in tinfoil and bake it whole.
Half an hour later I add a huge metal stock pot containing peeled potatoes and lots of water - plus mint & salt. These will boil, and are ready by the time everything else is done.
Inside the house, in the nice cool aircon, we just have to steam the green veggies - brussels sprouts, peas, beans, etc. They only need 5-10 mins, and aside from heating custard and warming the christmas pud, that's the only cooking we'll need to do indoors.
I know I've missed some of the food (cured ham, for example, but that's just sliced & served cold) but these days I can cook a whole xmas dinner for 20-30 people on autopilot. I just make sure I have a spare gas bottle, and I check under the hood every 30 minutes to see whether anything is getting too well done. If so, wrap in tinfoil or reduce the heat.
Anyway, if I don't post again before the new year, Merry Christmas to everyone and I hope you have a fantastic time.
Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)