With two weeks to go until Christmas Eve, let’s (re)discover together the basics of a successful Christmas dinner. To do this, a few simple gestures will allow you to ensure a great evening!
Everyone celebrates Christmas in their own way, but New Year’s Eve is often an opportunity to get together around a good, hearty meal. Tradition dictates that at Christmas we eat well, so don’t miss out on preparing THE meal if you’re in charge of it.
At my house, on December 24th, it’s a real battle in the kitchen. In short, although everyone is ready to get down to work, certain tasks cannot be delegated because they are the “must” of the meal, the unavoidable ones.
However, if you know how to do it well, and by following a few basic rules, everyone can tackle all the most time-consuming steps in preparing a Christmas meal.
Open the oysters without opening your hand
For all those who have never gone through this rite of passage, or those who fear for their hand every Christmas, listen well:
You can cover your back by protecting your hand holding the oyster with a rag. The knife must have a short, sharp blade.
Place the oyster with the hollow shell on the side of your hand with the hinge (pointed end): towards the wrist for right-handed people, towards the fingers for left-handed people. For the knife, place your thumb on the blade to avoid any loss of control (which would end in a cut that we are trying to avoid).
Then insert it at 2/3 of the shell from the hinge. For those who do not have the compass in their eye, this is equivalent to inserting it at the level of the middle finger for right-handed people and at the level of the little finger for left-handed people.
Then proceed gently. Refrain from the reflex that would consist in trying in all directions to open the oyster at all costs. After cutting the muscle just where the knife has been inserted, gently pry the blade.
All you have to do now is lift the upper shell and detach the flesh. Then empty the water and any small shell debris that may have fallen out during opening. It is also advisable to open the oysters a few minutes before eating them, so that they have time to make a second water, which is considered better than the one thrown away after opening.
There is only to be tasted (for those that it tempts of course)!
Cooking your turkey
Turkey or capon (castrated chicken) are also a must at Christmas dinner. We often wonder in which position to place them so that they don’t come out dry from cooking. The reason this is such a difficult question is that the thighs take longer to cook than the rest of the animal. As a result, without a little trick, it is difficult to ensure the whole line.
So to get to the “grail” of perfect, even cooking, stuff your turkey between the skin and tenderloin meat. This slows down the cooking of the last ones and solves your problem (that’s the magic of Christmas!).
If you notice that your turkey begins to tan at the end of cooking, cover it with a sheet of aluminum foil.
Once out of the oven, let your turkey rest for about 15 minutes under the foil before carving, so that the juices will stay in the meat and make it soft and fluffy!
For cooking: if you prepare a turkey, count 18 minutes for 500 g at 180° C. Baste it regularly.
If you are cooking a capon, count one hour for each kilo. Some chefs even recommend soaking it for 10 to 12 hours in water or stock before cooking it, to make the meat even more tender!
And above all: don’t forget to take them out of the fridge 1 to 2 hours before putting them in the oven!
Making a Christmas log with class
When making a traditional Christmas log, two things are important: the rolling biscuit and the buttercream.
For the cookie, the important thing is not to let it overcook, as it would become brittle and could not roll up well. The biscuit must not brown, otherwise you will have to start all over again!
Before unmoulding, moisten a cloth with hot water, on which to place your biscuit. Leave the biscuit on the damp cloth for a good minute so that the cloth is soaked in steam and remains soft. You can also let your biscuit cool down by covering it with a sheet of cellophane to keep it soft and easy to roll.
For the butter cream, take out your butter at least half an hour before you start the preparation so that it is usable. If the cream separates or turns during its preparation, don’t panic! All you need to do is add tablespoons of melted butter by vigorously beating your preparation.