Somehow I became in charge of organizing, planning, preparing and cooking the Christmas feast for our household this year. Knowing that I was going to be feeding carnivores as well as vegetarians, my first stop was the Queens Park Meat Market.
Without letting on that I am usually a vegetarian (these are people who have very sharp knives and saws for cutting up bodies…I was NOT taking any chances) I asked the butcher for advice. I told him that I did not want to cook a turkey because of the size of the bird and the messy leftover situation. His recommendation was to roast a chicken and in no time flat I was walking out of the Meat Market with a six pound chicken tucked under my arm.
I took the bird home and slipped it into the back of the fridge while trying to figure out just how to roast a chicken. The “recipe” I used as advice came from the free magazine you can pick up at BC Liquor stores. Essentially all I did was cut a couple onions and carrots into thick slices and lay them in the bottom of the roasting pan. I then plopped the chicken on top, rubbed it down with butter and stuffed it in the preheated oven.
Following that little prep, I took some potatoes that I had baked the night before and cut the tops of them open to expose their warm squishy insides. I have to admit, the baked potatoes were a bit of a flop. Parts of them did not bake and other parts of the same potato were mushy. One of the two flops from dinner.
Once the potatoes were back in the oven with the chicken I turned my attention to the butt of so many jokes, the Tofurkey. I picked this little feller up at Choices Market in New Westminster.
This “beast” comes with cooking instructions; wrap in tin foil, pour in half of a baste that you need to prepare ahead of time (ingredient list included) and stick it in the oven for an hour and fifteen minutes.
Poor little nondescript looking thing! Once it came out of the oven though, delicious!!
Here are the potatoes again. As you can see I cut the tops off, mashed up the insides, added cheddar cheese and a little lump of butter to each one and then put them back in the oven. My philosophy is that when a dish doesn’t turn out quite as you would like it to, add more butter and another sprinkle of salt.
Next came the stuffing, or as my American followers say, the dressing. This was the other let down of the party. I bought a 50 pound sack of Marcy’s Traditional Stuffing from Costco and it was just way too much bread. Or as my friend would say, it was drier than a popcorn fart. Next time I make it I will add more celery, onions, carrots and hot water to the mix. My Momma always taught me to follow the recipe precisely the first time you make something. After that you can adjust as needed.
And then it was time for the bird to fly the coop. I left it in the oven for the full two hours the butcher had suggested for the six pound bird.
Then, in case anybody called me up the next day to say that they had food poisoning, I stabbed that bird with a meat thermometer. Hot enough to eat.
Another plus about the Tofurkey is that it comes from the store with a little plastic bag of miso gravy. All I had to do was dump it in a pot and warm it up and I would have vegetarian gravy. Instead I spooned some of the drippings from under the chicken into the pot along with the gravy, added another cup of water with a tablespoon of corn starch and stirred the beejesus out of it until it was hot. And delicious.
Once the cooked chicken was rested up nicely I attacked it with a pairing knife; my pathetic excuse for a carving knife would not even break the skin on the baked bird.
When I walked into the room with the chicken in the roaster, the first thing an individual who will go unnamed said was, “You’ve got it upside down in the roaster!”
I explained that my Momma taught me that trick because it makes the breast meat more juicy (total baloney on my part). At least it shut them up and they gave me a new sense of respect for my cooking prowess.
Right after the chicken was out and carved, the Tofurkey was due out. Now this is a carving job I can handle. The instructions say to take a serrated bread knife and slice into 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick slices. Easy.
Finally we were ready to eat. And eat we did. Baked yams, potatoes, carrots, chicken, beets, stuffing, Tofurkey, a superb squash and apple casserole, and gravy. Gallons of gravy.
Interesting to note that everyone commented on the superb flavour of the Tofurkey and yet nobody said boo about the chicken. I tried a piece of the chicken, white meat and dark meat and it was okay. It was all the more enjoyable when drenched in gravy.
After we were done eating I trucked back into the kitchen and quickly cleaned it up ready for the next meal.
Christmas 2010 was a smash hit. The food was good, the company was good, the baby girls only pulled the Christmas tree over twice and the gifting was fabulous. I can hardly wait until next year when someone else is responsible for prepping and cooking the meal!!