A Christmas Feast (for New Year’s)… Part Two (The Making Of)

I’d plotted out my schedule and began thawing the turkey on Christmas, eventually adding the duck and chicken. I had a very full refrigerator… so full that my chicken was still icy and hard after 24 hours!

Monday saw me out shopping, then home again to assemble the ice cream portion of the baked Alaska and bake the flourless, dark chocolate cake. Made the cranberry sauce as well.

Tuesday morning saw me boning all three birds, which took quite a little while, but I did it! A bird completely without bones becomes a rather shapeless and somehow amusing, lump of meat, fat and skin. I then put them into a large pot with several gallons of brine (1 Cup brown sugar and 1 Cup kosher salt per gallon) in it and weighted the whole thing down with a plate. This then went on the front porch, where it was quite cold, I’d run out of room in the refrigerator. I pre-roasted the mushrooms and toasted the sourdough bread, both for the stuffing and called it a day.

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Wednesday (day of the feast), I woke up excited and ready to get into the kitchen…but it was far too early. So instead, I ate breakfast and read a little, until it was finally 10:00. First order of business was to finish the stuffing, which went rather smoothly and smelled fantastic. My sous chef (a.k.a. dishwasher and lifter) for the day arrived a little before 11:00 and we set about assembling the turducken. The trickiest part of this proved to be the trussing and it would have been impossible without my helper! I’d found that the skin had been torn on the turkey when I’d removed it from it’s wrapping yesterday, so this necessitated rolling it over and trussing up that side as well. Another, smaller complication was getting the thermometer into the chicken, I’d stuck it in before we’d folded everything back together, only to realize that it needed to come out closer to the neck, which I managed by sticking my fingers though the trusses and feeling around for the chicken breast. I’d become very familiar with these birds by this point! We rubbed it down with a bit of paprika and stuck it into the oven.

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On to other things, the next order of business was to get the Baked Alaska completely prepped. I first cut the cake down to size (finding that the leftover crumbs were incredibly rich and would hold up well against all that ice cream!) and stuck it onto the ice cream. I then set about making the Italian meringue. I must confess that besides the birds, I was most nervous about this… I’d never made any sort of meringue before and have to admit that I’d had no desire to, they didn’t sound tasty to me. I pictured them tasting like whipped cream, which I skip whenever I can… and everything else I was familiar with/knowledgeable enough about to be able to adjust and save, but this felt sink or swim and I didn’t have time to sink! I worried for nothing though, it all worked perfectly and I soon had a mixing bowl full of clouds. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the beaters transform the mixture into exactly what I’d seen on tv. Thoroughly coated the turned out ice cream with this, then covered it and set it outside, it wouldn’t fit in the freezer anymore.

At this point, we took a bit of a break, my sous chef had kept up with the dishes and my fiance had arrived (no, they were not the same person today), so we paused to partake of the extras/samples. We’d had extra stuffing and meringue that we’d finished in the toaster oven and some duck skin that we’d trimmed from the turducken and crisped up to snack on. We began to get excited as everything met or exceeded our expectations!

We set the table and prepped the rest of the side dishes. mixing up the shrimp puff’s filling, peeling and soaking the mashed potatoes, and assembling the dressing for the green beans… then we hit a wall. The feast was to be at 16:30 and everyone began to arrive, but the thermometer was nowhere near where it needed to be! Fortunately, they were all going to be here until midnight, so there was no rush (except for our hungry bellies!) and I managed to resist the urge to turn it up.

We finally hit the correct temperature at 18:30 and pulled the birds out, putting them on my new (purchased just for this occasion) carving board to rest.

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At this point, I must apologize for the drop in photo quality, but things got a little hectic….

Sous chef handled the mashed potatoes, fiance finished off the gravy, I popped the shrimp puffs in the oven and steamed the green beans while putting the cranberry sauce on the table, and voila! One Christmas feast!

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