Holidays are all about eating. Well, they are about people too, but somehow, the idea of groups celebrating without food and drink is quite unthinkable. So when you take the two largest holidays in the Western world and put a bunch of people together, you know you’re in for a big feast. Here’s a beginner’s guide to assembling an unforgettable Thanksgiving and Christmas meal.
First things first, recognise that Thanksgiving is all about the bird. Mind you, we don’t mean any ordinary, everyday chicken, but the best kind of fowl – the turkey.
To achieve Thanksgiving meal success, you will first need to know how to remove the neck and other internal organs – otherwise known giblets – from the bird. Once you’ve got that done, vigorously season both inside and out with salt and pepper. If you choose to brine your bird, you should let it sit for approximately one hour for every pound of turkey.
The stuffing is a key component in getting your dish right. Essentially a starchy mix made out of bread chunks, cooked vegetables, herbs and bits of meat, the stuffing should go into the bird through its neck and body cavities. From there, truss the bird and pop it into a roasting pan before leaving it in an oven to cook to perfection.
A Thanksgiving dinner is nothing without its side dishes. Cranberry sauce, mashed and roasted potatoes, corn, green beans, berries, pumpkin, cornbread and bread rolls are all mainstays on the dinner table.
Christmas is a time of people coming together and enjoying family and friends, and nothing says ‘I love you’ more than having a good meal with loved ones.
A good Yuletide meal isn’t hard to whip up. Depending on the various Western cultures, there are many ways to go about it. The heart of the meal is usually a big, meaty item – a chunky leg of ham with applesauce or roast beef tenderloin with brown gravy normally acts as the centerpiece. Occasionally, turkey and roast pork make an appearance too. And of course, there are the sides; brussels sprouts, peas, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and roasted root vegetable all make for a classic Christmas dinner.
If you’re looking for some good starters, pâtés, terrines or cheese boards are a great pre-meal warm up before the serious feasting begins to add on to the food coma. After that, sip on some festive eggnog or chow on some Christmas pudding to fire up the spirit.
Don’t forget to save the leftovers for the next day’s lunch – there are tons of good ways to use the turkey trimmings for a Boxing Day lunch.