It’s a tradition in the Danaher family to have another Christmas Dinner on New Year Day.
Having spent a lovely Christmas up at Dec’s parents’ in Cricklewood in North London, I volunteered my services to provide the New Year offerings. I’ve never done the turkey dinner before, but thought ‘how hard can it be?’. It’s just a big chicken.
Dec left for rugby training and coaching duties at 7.30am on New Years Day, with an ETA for returning home at approximately 6pm. Impeccable timing as usual (insert raised eyebrow emoticon here).
As I was saying “How hard can it be?”. With the three children to keep an eye on, I wanted to keep it straight forward, so I was offering one choice only at each course (my mother in law puts me to shame with at least 4 options for the starter and pudding, and three choices of gravy).
Starter: Homemade Tomato Soup & Wheaten Bread
Main course: Turkey, stuffing, carrots, broccoli, roast potatoes, gravy
Pudding: Christmas Crumble homemade (berry, apple and cinnamon), custard and ice cream
Booze: wine, Magners, Gin and Pepsi Max Cherry (forgot to buy the tonic)
With a cheat sheet of timings to ensure everything went tickety boo, what could possibly go wrong?
Top 5 things not to do when cooking the turkey dinner:
- When in the presence of toddler, check oven temperature regularly: Wee Man aka Conor, 19 months old, has a radar for locating and messing with all things he shouldn’t. This includes oven knobs. So two hours in to the cooking time I discover he’s wacked the temperature up a significant number of degrees. On a positive note, better too hot than too cold. Cremated better than food poisoning.
- Remove tiny plastic bag from the turkey innards (of whatever that stuff is in it), before putting turkey in oven for 3.5 hours: I did remove some ‘stuff’ from inside the turkey (as per instructions) before cooking, however, upon carving Dec discovered an extra little plastic bag. In my defence, it was hidden right up at the closed end so was easy to miss. In a ‘glass half full’ way, we made the assumption that Sainsbury’s took in to account idiots like me and made sure they use heat proof bags (it was intact and not melted). Luckily, this minor drama unfolded in the kitchen and was not witnessed by the awaiting guests.
- Remove spongy sheets from under the turkey before plopping in to the baking tray. I discovered these while discarding the carcass at 10pm. I had NO IDEA they were there (there was no mention of them in the instructions).
- Check that the foil is fully covering the turkey. An hour before completed cooking time, the instructions told me to remove the
foil to allow for browning. Unfortunately, the fan oven had blown the foil off half the turkey. So we had one anaemic side and the other half with an oompa loompa tan. Not to worry, I just covered the brown half for the final hour to let the other side catch up.
- Don’t forget the cranberry sauce – when Beth (6) announced that her dinner “was a bit plain”, it reminded me that we had made a special trip to the shops in the torrential rain for this essential turkey condiment (and for Uncle Tim’s Magners).
All in all, everyone was terribly gracious and polite regarding their New Year’s Day meal (bar Beth ‘a bit plain’ Danaher). So far, there have been no reports of food poisoning. Rest assured, in future I shall be taking on board the above tips for what not to do. Next year we’re off to my folks in Bangor, N. Ireland, for the first Christmas there in 7 years! My final top turkey tip for 2014 is for my Mum…….perhaps I should take responsibility for the drinks and leave the festive food to the seasoned experts. Gin and Pepsi Max Cherry anyone? Yehaaaaaaaaaaaaa*!
*always drink responsibly