Last year’s making of Christmas dinner was quite comically regimented. I had printed out all the recipes and pasted them on the kitchen cupboard doors and numbered them to order each step so there would be no confusion on what was to be done when.
This year I had a more laissez-faire attitude. No print outs, no numbers. Ok, maybe a few jottings on some scrap paper with timings for when each dish needed to get into the oven.
I made the red cabbage the night before. The winey, appley, orangey, sugary, tangy flavours developed well after I inadvertently left it on the kitchen counter overnight. The chicken was soaked in its flavourful briny bath overnight in the fridge so all that was left on the day itself was preparing the ham, stuffing, roast potatoes, brussels sprouts and roast vegetables. My copy of Nigella Lawson’s Feast was propped up unseasonally in the corner of the kitchen counter by bags of dried kaffir lime leaves and curry leaves.The kitchen windows were fogged up by steam from the gammon boiling merrily in its cranberry and apple juice bath. Then everything went into the oven at timed intervals. And the whole kitchen was perfumed with allspice and cinnamon, a beautiful chicken basted with maple syrup and butter, smokey ham slathered with lingonbery jam and dotted with cloves, and chestnuts, potatoes and all manner of vegetables roasting in the oven. A quick fry of brussels sprouts and dinner was ready! With the exception of the potatoes and vegetables, all the delicious recipes came out of Feast. The stars of the meal were the golden burnished chicken and stuffing to end all stuffings. I think it was sheer brilliance on Nigella’s part to substitute breadcrumbs with gingerbread. Imagine the spicy sweetness of gingerbread with the mellowness of soft onions and apples spiked by orange zest and rounded off with salty bacon.
And we’re still going through the leftovers…