Today with only three days left until the big day here are some holiday bits-and-pieces that I hope some of you will find useful. If nothing else I know I will refer back to this post next year.
Chestnuts: Here is an about.com video details a better method for opening chestnut shells (than the traditional scoring with a paring knife) so that the infamous exploding chestnut incident of Thanksgiving 2009 isn’t repeated. Thanks to @TOFoodie for the link via Twitter.
Turkey: As I mentioned on Sunday I’ll be cooking roast beef for Christmas this year. For those of you who are sticking with turkey here is the post that I put up before Thanksgiving with my guidelines for roasting the chicken’s must-larger cousin.
Nuts and Bolts: This snack goes by many names–and I’m going to fly in the face of search engine optimization rules by not listing them–and has many variations. Mine is simple but with a twist. Melt a stick of butter is a roasting pan. Off the heat, add a couple glugs of worcestershire sauce, about half a tablespoon curry powder, a teaspoon of celery seed, a teaspoon of garlic powder, half a teaspoon kosher salt, and a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper. In a bowl mix about two cups each of Shreddies (Google means never having to explain what these are to Americans) and Cheerios, and one cup each of salted, shelled peanuts and pretzel sticks. Add the dry ingredients to the roasting pan and stir well to coat and then put the pan in a preheated 300°F oven. Bake, stir frequently, for about twenty-five minutes or until cereal is toasted. Remove from the oven and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Update: Over on Squidoo my aunt has posted the original recipe (my grandmother’s) upon which my variation is based.
Further Update: I now have my own adaptation of the nuts and bolts recipe (with bacon fat and porchetta drippings) posted here.
Eggnog: I try some of the carton stuff every year and usually regret that choice. This year I have read (on Twitter) about some very reasonable people paying quite unreasonable prices for the Harmony Organics version. To me, good nog is about booze and a light texture to balance the ingredients’ richness and this texture is best achieved by incorporating freshly-whipped egg whites. While I suppose the booze can be added neither of these key components can be found in store-bought, bottled eggnog so I offer Alton Brown’s excellent recipe for homemade eggnog. It is well worth the effort especially if you’re making a double (or more) batch for company. There is also a cooked recipe provided for those worried about e coli and the comments are a useful source of variations.
As well, this year’s Good Eats Christmas special had a recipe for wassail. I have never made wassail but it is definitely on my to-try list and I might make some from the Duchy Originals (HRH The Prince of Wales’ charitable, organic food concern) Organic Ale that I came across at the LCBO yesterday.
I will probably be back with at least one more post before Christmas Day (the three-part duck series has two more installments) but just in case: I hope everyone has a very merry Christmas.