Whoa, that was a bumpy sleigh ride this Christmas. May I pass on a little word of advice? Don’t move home three weeks before Christmas. In fact, don’t move at all in December. Especially not if you are hosting Christmas. Which is exactly what I did.
I am actually very happy to be in my new home and happy that I was in just in time for Christmas but, my goodness, it was hard work. I was lucky to have a lot of help from family on the move weekend and I took a week off work so that I could get things organised but I was still unpacking, sorting and organising right up to the big day. Then there were the utilities and services to sort out and change of address notifications. I still have more to do but the main things are sorted.
With the move taking priority I was behind with Christmas planning and shopping and I could feel the stress building the closer to Christmas it got. But then at some point early on Christmas Eve I just let it go (launches into song from ‘Frozen’). I realised that my family don’t care what state my home is in, they just want to spend Christmas with me and they would take me as they found me. After all, Christmas really is about being with the ones you love. And so it was that we had a lovely, relaxed Christmas Day. I was very pleased with the turkey crown I cooked, which was tasty and moist. Everyone enjoyed the meal and there was plenty of meat left over for sandwiches. I usually buy a whole turkey but as there were only a fewof us I thought a crown would be fine, and my cousin’s wife has one every year and recommends it – as, now, do I. I prepared it in the same way I would a whole bird, mixing chopped herbs with a whole packet of salted butter and stuffing that under the skin and over the breast, laying rashes of streaky bacon over the breast and seasoning it with salt and pepper. I put it into a tray on top of chopped onions and carrots and threw in a bay leaf, then covered it with foil and roasted it, taking the foil off for the last half hour in order to brown it. The real key is letting it rest breast side down once it’s cooked for at least an hour – I left it for two while I prepared the rest of the meal. This allows the meat to relax and the juices to run back into it so that it isn’t dry. You don’t need to worry about it getting cold, just cover it up completely in foil and then lay a good few thick tea towels over it to keep the heat in. It will cool a little but stay nice and warm.
Early into Christmas evening I started to feel quite unwell. I hadn’t been feeling particularly great before, but I just put that down to the busyness of the proceeding weeks and the fact that I had been up until 3am wrapping presents! But I was now starting to feel nauseous. Concerned that it hadn’t been long since we’d eaten I asked the others if they felt unwell but they all felt fine, so this wasn’t the food. In fact, I’d come down with a nasty stomach bug/virus. I went from being up and about cooking dinner to being bed ridden, nauseous and achy in a matter of hours. It was like being hit by a truck. The next few days were a complete right off, but I was fortunate that my mum and stepdad were staying with me for Christmas and they insisted on staying and looking after me. I don’t care how old you are, when you feel that ill having your mummy look after you is wonderful! And at least being unwell at Christmas time means there’s lots to watch on TV! Thankfully the nausea and sickness was only a 24 hour thing but it left me feeling awful, and now I have a kind of flu and throat infection. This seems to be a winter bug that’s doing the rounds as I’ve heard of lots of people coming down with it. I sincerely hope that none of you get unwell this winter but if you do, here’s my advice – none of which is new or ground breaking but advice that we often hear but don’t follow. As difficult as it can be, rest if you can, as much as you can. In some ways I was fortunate that I didn’t have to go to work or look after children, or keep to any other commitments, so I could just lay in bed or on the couch and rest and sleep. It really is the best way of getting better quicker. Drink plenty of water or squash but if you have a stomach upset sip it slowly, don’t drink lots quickly. A hot bath helps with the aches and pains, and you can just get back into pyjamas afterwards.
Now that I’ve given you my Christmas tale of woe I’ll leave you with a little something that may come in handy if you still have any leftovers, or are cooking another turkey. Alternatively you could use chicken. Apart from the broccoli, I made this entirely from what I already had in so it’s a great store cupboard meal. Just keep a packet of risotto rice in your cupboard and you can always whip up a great mid-week risotto. I very unconventionally added a few drops of Tabasco sauce which really lifted it and added a little spice to the otherwise fairly bland leftover turkey meat.
Turkey and Broccoli Risotto
750ml chicken stock
1 onion, finely diced
150g risotto rice, such as Arborio
100ml white wine
1/2 head of broccoli, chopped into small pieces
A good few handfuls of cooked turkey meat, chopped
A few drops of Tabasco sauce, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the stock in a pan until it is hot but not simmering, ready to ladle into the risotto.
Heat about a tablespoon of olive oil in a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and then add the diced onion and sauté it for a few minutes until it starts to soften a little.
Add the rice and stir well until it starts to turn translucent. Pour in the wine and stir the rice for about 30 seconds while the alcohol sizzles and burns off.
Start adding the hot stock, one ladleful at time, stirring continuously. Allow the rice to absorb each ladleful before adding the next. Once the rice has absorbed a few ladlefuls of stock add the broccoli to the pan then continue stirring and adding the stock as before. About halfway through add the turkey meat to the risotto, stirring it in.
Keep adding stock until the rice is al dente, not totally soft all the way through but still with a bite in the middle, and the risotto has a sauce-like consistency. Different varieties of rice absorb differing quantities of liquid so you may not need all of the stock or you may need to add a little more (water will be fine if you run out of stock). Make sure the turkey is piping hot before serving.