And so this is Christmas..

I have never been as excited for a cookalong as I was for this one. It’s a merry happy Christmas cookalong!

To the scrooges of Christmas out there: I care not, I LOVE Christmas. I’ve had my good and bad ones, but in general I love it. In saying that, I reject anything remotely Christmassy until December, because otherwise it is ridiculous. And besides, I have exams to be thinking about. Just one subject with 2 exams this year, hurrah! It is rather important though, eek. Anywho, so for weeks I have planned this cookalong, and have had so much fun doing it. I cooked from 10.30am to 6.45pm yesterday and it was so worth it. I decided to do two types of menus, a dinner menu and a finger food menu. At Christmas it’s really nice when people call over for an evening and while shops make a fortune selling tiny tiny foodstuffs for outrageous prices, I refuse to partake in this. It is so simple to make tiny tasty items yourself. I don’t know how well these freeze but once I’m home I’ll test them out. But for now I’ll share my sample dinner recipe with you.

Multicultural Cookalong:

My menu


Roasted Duck with homemade Bramley Apple Sauce, served with roast potatoes and bacon caramelised brussel sprouts.

Ideally I’d serve glazed carrots and parsnips with this but I had no time!

I have to credit Julie with bringing me a Duck. Most butchers were duckless and she went to five (FIVE!) to get one. She was very happy with herself as was I 🙂

  • A duck!
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper
  • a few sage leaves
  • Pratai (Potatoes) as many as you wish. I wished for many

For Sprouts

  • Brussel sprouts
  • about 4-5 thick cut rashers. Good quality, whatever your favourite type is 🙂
  • Butter- a good chunk. Probably the best of an ounce or more if you roll that way

Apple sauce

  • 2 Bramley apples (big uns)
  • 2 oz caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp water
  • You can totally tell I made this up because of the lack of quantities in most places..

We got a 2.5 kg duck. I had 7 guests, so there wasn’t tonnes to go round, but we all had a nice taste and I cooked a ridiculous amount of yummy yummy spuds to go with. A 2.5 kg duck takes about 3 hours to cook. Im going to direct you to here on which advises you all about the whole turkey getting/cooking/defrosting process as well, seeing as it’s Christmas!

Heres the plan.

  1. Preheat oven to … eh… 150 or so. (My oven is wonky, the thermostat doesn’t work, I go by rough guesstimates while I wait for my thermometer to arrive. No macaroons for me :().
  2. Put your duck into a roasting tray or dish and rub the insides and out with some sea salt and black pepper. I put 3 sage leaves and 2 cloves of garlic into the cavity too for the craic. It wasn’t strong but I like to think it made a difference!
  3. Bang it in the oven as is, no butter, oil (you will see why..) no futhering around with bits of foil and all that. In as is.
  4. Straight away start the spuds. Peel them and cut off any bad bits. Chop them into golf ball sized chunks.
  5. Pop them in saucepan of salted water and cook for about 5-7 minutes until then edges are just softening. Drain completely and toss them around a bit to ruffle the edges. Give them a dusting of sea salt and leave aside.
  6. Meanwhile prepare the sprouts by taking off a few of the outer leaves and cutting the base down so that they’re neat. For the record, I am not a fan of sprouts. However I am coming round to them largely due to the lovely bacony goodness of them yesterday 🙂
  7. Cook the sprouts in lightly salted boiling water for about 8 minutes. Get a bowl full of cold water and a daycent amount of ice in there and remove the sprouts with a slotted spoon straight into this. This stops them cooking and keeps the colour. Set aside for when you need them.
  8. By this time the duck should have been in about 2 hours. Depending on the size of your potatoes, you need to put them in around now. The smaller they are the longer you need to leave them in. I know I know but at least I’m
  9. Take it out of the oven and recoil at the amount of fat that comes out of a duck first of all.. You maaaay want to pour a bit of this out unless you want totally fried potatoes. Although… if ever theres a time for it, its at Christmas!
  10. THEN take the duck from the tray and put it on a plate aside for a minute. Get your potatoes that have been parboiled and put them into the sizzling er.. liquid (I want to avoid the ‘F’ word) Toss them around to coat them and push them to the sides of the tray. Put back in your duck in the middle and back into the oven. You need to leave it in for the whole amount of time, 3 hours or so depending on the weight. Calculator available here. Looks like this:
  11. Next. Peel 2 bramley apples. Cut them into chunks and add your sugar and 4 tbsp of water. Cook on a medium heat until the apple starts to break down and fluff up. It took mine about 15 minutes altogether. Taste and make sure it’s right. It was rather lavely. Keep warm until serving time.
  12. Phew. Now 5 minutes before you’re ready to take the duck from the oven you need to snip up your rashers into delightful bitesize pieces and fry them with a little butter and oil until lovely and crispy.
  13. At this point it’s probably time to take the duck out. Out it comes, check its juices are running clear from the thigh or test with a meat thermometer. Double check the potatoes are done. Leave the duck to rest for about 5 to 10 minutes. Resist. I broke the skin, oopsys, but here, with a rubbish photo, is the general idea.
  14. Then all thats left to do is cut your sprouts in half, take the bacon out of the pan for a few minutes, add the rest of the butter, get the heat up high and add your sprouts. Toss and cook for about 4 minutes, add your bacon back in and cook for another 3  minutes until tender and bacony! Serve up in a warmed bowl.
  15. Ok. Serve the applesauce warm, carve up your duck and do please enjoy a lot! Oh and eat your sprouts!

This is not an ad for Coke, it just happened to be put there. As you can see it’s a multicultural Christmas cookalong. Julie brought latkes and a dreidel and there were games played and the whole shebang. And those latkes are gooood! Went really well with the applesauce.

I’m going to make the finger food a separate post because I believe this was a long enough one!

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