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Organic Annie - Christmas Dinner from start to finish!

In Part One of her two part Christmas Special, Annie surpasses herself, sharing with us her full Christmas Dinner recipes, with island sourced ingredients - phew, time to cook with confidence and enjoy the festive season to its max!

I love Christmas and an Ibiza Christmas is fabulous. For me, it is time punctuated by long walks on the beach or in the campo (countryside). It is time spent in front of the fire either eating something delicious or planning to eat something delicious. Cosy at home, hours are spent decorating, shopping, wrapping, and best of all, planning Christmas dinner. The markets are full with fantastic food. The seafood counters stock oysters, scallops, lobsters and local shrimp. The butchers carry all manner of meat and poultry, bakeries and shops full with traditional Christmas cookies, cakes and tarts.

We eat loads of it in the run up to Christmas, but for many, Christmas dinner is sacred and traditional. On Ibiza, most of it, save the Christmas pudding of course, is locally available making it all the more delicious. Our Ibiza tradition is to cook much of it in our ancient bread oven - it makes the meal special, very festive. We set a table up outside with snacks and wine, everyone stands around taking turns basting, turning and admiring the bird…

Recipes:

Dinner for eight - recipes below for: -

1. Roast Turkey
2. Roasted Vegetable and Hasselback potatoes
3. Stuffing
4. Gravy
5. Spanish Mountain Cranberry sauce
6. Christmas Aperitifs
7. Spiced Nuts
8. Pigs in Blankets and
Ibiza Devils on Horseback



A word about the Turkey:
There really is a big difference between conventional bird and free range, local grown. First the flavour and texture are far superior, and second, it is readily available on the Island.
A good rule of thumb is about a pound per person. I always order slightly bigger, leftovers are heaven and make for a hassle free Boxing Day.

Brining: The absolute key to a flavourful and moist bird is brine. It is dead easy and will make your bird, I promise. Simply take a pound of sea salt, mix it with 10 torn up bay leaves and coat the bird, inside and out 24 hours before you plan on cooking it. Wrap it covered in dry brine and put it in the fridge. When ready to cook, remove from fridge, rinse off salt inside and out and dry with paper towels.

Plan on 3 to 4 hours for cooking 8 to 12 pound turkey. If eyeballing for done-ness, the skin around the base of the drumstick should be pulled back, the joints should move easily when gyrated and most importantly, the juices should run perfectly clear.

However, the surest way to tell if the bird is done is to use a meat thermometer. The turkey must be cooked to an internal temperature of 170F/77C at the breast. Raw turkey at the table is a tragedy. I used to wing it until one year, the bird, looking deliciously golden and crispy was completely undone inside. A table full of people, forks in hand, side dishes perfectly piping hot, not a good moment! Invest in a meat thermometer and your Christmas turkey will be perfect. For that matter, it’s a good kitchen staple, meat benefits from a meat thermometer. It takes the guess work out.

Finally, I never actually stuff the bird. First, it takes far longer to cook, up to 2 hours more. The stuffing must reach an internal temperature of 170F/77C to rule out salmonella. And second, it can be a bit gummy and damp. Cooked separately, the stuffing is crispy and golden on the outside and moist on the inside.

Equipment: Meat thermometer, basting brush and kitchen twine.

The Perfect Turkey:

For Preparation the brined turkey before cooking:
1 lemon
Sprigs rosemary and thyme
Salt and Cracked pepper
A good knob of butter, softened

A note about herbs: We are lucky on Ibiza, rosemary, thyme, a plethora, grow wild. Foraging in the campo or picking from my kitchen garden is a real pleasure. If it is not available in the same manner, do not skimp, they are expensive, but well worth it. The scent of fresh herbs cooking with the turkey and sides is heaven, not to mention the flavour.

If cooking in a conventional oven (I never do this in the bread oven - there is tons of space and I like the legs crispy all around) truss the bird. Meaning, tuck the wings in, pull the legs together and tie them with kitchen string. Dental floss works in a pinch.

Salt and pepper the inside of the cavity.
Roll the lemon on top of the counter, pressing down and poke a dozen or so holes all around it with a skewer or a fork, put it inside with a few sprigs of rosemary and thyme.
Rub softened butter the outside of the turkey, get all available surface and season with salt and pepper.

Place sprigs of rosemary and thyme in the roasting tin and put the bird on top, pour a cup of white wine in the bottom and pop into a 325F/ 165C degree oven.

For Basting:
1 cup white wine
6 oz butter
Salt and pepper
Sprigs of thyme
Melt it all together in a small sauce pan.

Baste every 30 minutes until done. Add a bit of liquid if the bottom of the pan is burning. The bits, Fond, are extremely important to the gravy. Remove to platter when cooked, cover loosely with foil and rest for 20 minutes or so.
Pour fat from pan onto a clear heatproof measuring cup. The fat will rise to the top.
Reserve pan for gravy.

Gravy:

Note about stock: Good gravy depends on good quality stock. I make homemade double stock, but in a pinch a good quality organic works well. I like to have at least 3 litres on hand for the entire dinner, as it is used for the stuffing. I use 2 litres for the gravy, we get through quite a bit of during dinner.
To make the double stock, a few nights before we have a couple poached chickens for dinner. I use the broth to simmer the bones from it, then the next day add a few kilos of chicken neck and backs, an onion, celery, aromatics and simmer it again. Strain, chill, de-fat and store in the fridge.

Use the reserved turkey roasting pan
1/2 c brandy
1/2 white wine
5 tablespoons flour
5 tablespoons turkey fat from roasting pan, if not enough, use butter to equal
2 liters of stock

Place roasting pan across a couple of lit burners and heat, as it gets smoky add the brandy and scrape up all the bits, reduce a bit to cook off alcohol. Pour through a strainer and reserve.

Heat a heavy bottomed pan with 5 tablespoons of turkey fat or butter, add the flour and cook thoroughly, whisk it to remove lumps and cook for a few minutes until golden. Add wine, boil off a bit and begin adding stock bit by bit. Do not be afraid of lumps - they can be strained out! Once stock is thickened add the brandy mix and simmer gently to enrich, correct seasoning with salt and pepper.

Stuffing:


About eight cups slightly dried bread cubes. A thick hearty bread is best. I use the bread from Es Pins, Ibiza/San Juan Road. Cut thick slices and toast them in a low oven for half an hour or so.

500 gr mushrooms sliced, local rovellon if possible. If using button, 1 kilo, as they really cook down.
300 gr sliced onions
2 sliced leeks
250 gr good quality local sausage
2 slices pancetta
Small bunch of thyme, a few fresh sage leaves, small bunch parsley, de-stemmed and chopped fine.
1/2 cup to 3/4 cup stock
3 T melted butter.

Sauté 1 slice of pancetta and the mushrooms. If using buttons sauté until all of the water has evaporated - the water content is high and flavour needs to be condensed. When all of the water is evaporated, heat the pan to high and add a couple of tablespoons of brandy, cook until evaporated. Remove to a bowl.
With Rovellon or any other denser mushroom, sauté the pancetta, when fat is rendered, add mushrooms, stir gently, so as not to break up slices - there is very little water in rovellons so the pan will get quite hot, add a couple of splashes of brandy or wine to aid cooking and remove from heat to a bowl.
In the same pan, sauté the remaining pancetta, onion, leek and herbs, until soft, not brown. Season and add to mushrooms.
Sauté sausage in the same pan until cooked through. Drain fat and add to the vegetables.
Mix all together. Season. The flavour should be fairly intense as the bread will mellow it out.

Make ahead: At this point, the mushroom mix can be cooled and stored for a couple of days, separate from the bread.

2 hours before serving, combine bread and mushroom mix in a buttered casserole dish. Moisten with stock and melted butter. The amount of stock depends on the bread mix - look for moist, not wringing wet, add it a quarter cup at a time.
Bake 1 hour or so in 350F/170C oven, if the top begins to darken, cover loosely with foil, remove in the final minutes to brown.

Roasted Vegetable and Hasselback potatoes

16 small carrots, greens on, half inch of green remaining on top, ends on,peeled.
16 small to medium potatoes, uniform in size, peeled. Leave potato whole, Run a metal skewer through the middle of the potato, lengthwise. Holding the potato in hand, slice with a sharp pairing knife, but slice only half way down stopping at the skewer. Slices should be every 1/8 inch. The potato will look sliced, but holds together as it is sliced only half way to the bottom. It makes for a crispy potato, as the butter and olive oil seep down into the slices.
16 small parsnips, uniform in size, peeled and as in carrots.
Nob of softened butter, 4 tablespoons of olive oil
A couple of sprigs of thyme.

Place in roasting tin with the sprigs of rosemary, rub with a nob of butter and olive oil and roast with the stuffing, 30 to 40 minutes or until done. Time it by putting them in the oven a half an hour after the stuffing and turn up the heat a bit to caramelize in the last minutes of cooking.

Spanish Mountain Cranberry Sauce

Having grown up in the Vermont Mountains, I have been picking and making Vermont Mountain Cranberry sauce nearly my entire life. It was a real pleasure to discover the Spanish cranberry. The sauce is very easy and making it at home for my family in Spain makes the holiday especially festive.

Note about the cranberries: The sugar content varies with the fruit’s sweetness. Start with half the amount listed and work up until it retains some bite, but is not overly sweet. It is meant to be a foil against the richness of the meal.

Spanish Cranberries can be found at Ibifood, on the Ibiza/San Antonio road. Just after the first ring road round-about, heading towards San Antonio, on the left hand side of the road. It comes in a kilo bag, so make a lot, we use it all winter as a jam on toast.

1 kg cranberries
Peel of a whole orange
Up to a 3/4 kilo of sugar
1/4 cup Grand Marnier (optional)

In a heavy bottomed pan, put cranberries, orange and half the sugar, slowly bring to a simmer, let simmer for 15 minutes, taste, if necessary add more sugar until balanced. Add Grand Marnier and simmer another 15 minutes of so, until the fruit is broken down and slightly thickened.

Christmas Aperitifs and Pomegranate Cava Cocktail:


With dinner in the oven it is time to start the party. The scents from the kitchen will be wafting, the mornings sugar rush worn off, time for a refresher and a drink.

Champagne Flutes
Pomegranate Cava Cocktail:
2 cups pomegranate juice, fresh if possible, good quality bottled is fine.
Pomegranate seeds for decoration. Optional
Cava

Put a few seeds in the bottom of each glass, fill to half full with Cava and to 3/4 with juice.

Spiced Nuts:


Make a kilo, these are great to have around for the holidays. The egg white sounds odd, but it adheres the herbs and spices to the nuts. Additionally, as they are not cooked in fat, they can be eaten without greasy paws. A great living-room treat.

1 kilo mixed nuts, use a Spanish mix of walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and almonds.
5 or 6 sprigs of rosemary, small handful of thyme, 4 sage leaves, 2 hot peppers, all minced.
1 heaping tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika and a handful of sea salt.
4 egg whites whipped to medium soft peaks

Mix spices and herbs and fold into the egg whites.
Add nuts and coat evenly with the egg white mixture.
Bake in a 325F/165C oven for 20 minutes.
Using a spatula, scrape up and break into smaller pieces and toss.
Return to oven for an additional 20 minutes.

Pigs in a Blanket and Ibiza Devils on Horseback.


24 sausages, 24 slices streaky bacon
24 dried figs, 24 slices streaky bacon
Easy, easy enrobe each sausage and each fig in a piece of bacon. Bake in a 375F/190C degree oven until bacon is crisp and brown.

A note about figs: Dried figs are a huge tradition on Ibiza. They are sun dried on the roof of many country homes in September. They are wonderful in stews or eaten with almonds and are available just about everywhere.

My unreserved thanks to Chef Neil Allen and Food Photographer David Munn for their assistance - working with you guys was inspiring.

Please see tomorrows article on where to buy everything for this Christmas feast and much more, including spots for a quick drink and snack after shopping.

Annie: “Total disclosure, as an American, our family celebrates Thanksgiving, at the end of November - it is very very similar to the traditional English Christmas. Turkey, stuffing, potatoes, gravy the works. And I love that meal - it is my favourite food Holiday. As I describe the wonders of turkey and the works, know it is firmly in my heart. But having just cooked it, we opted for an equally delicious, but less complicated dinner of Beef Bourguignon, creamed spinach, Ama potatoes, honey roasted carrots and my daughters favourite vegetable, asparagus (though definitely not local for at least a couple of months, I concede as she loves it) If interested in those recipes, please email Ibiza Spotlight. Merry Christmas!

Food Photography by David Munn, celebrated international food photographer.
All other images by Cat Milton, Editor-in-Chief, Ibiza Spotlight.

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Formentera Explorer

Formentera Explorer

Playa d'en Bossa, Ibiza