Christmas preparations, last episode 2014
While planning a snack styled menu, you may like to think about a completely different presentation.
If you happen to come across a long piece of wood, something like a piece of rough driftwood that at first does not catch the eye, this could just be what you need.
Let’s say your wood is 5ft long and something like 1ft wide, it will make a great centerpiece for an exceptional Christmas snack dinner.
Get yourself plenty of winter type lettuce, oak leaves, radicchio, curly endive (frisee), Romaine, lots of autumn colors here, tones of red, yellow, soft green, beautiful.
Your snack menu can comprise of a wide variety of dishes, you can of course go for some of the ideas from earlier posts, but anything you fancy will be great.
Ensure to have some hearty warm dishes, like a hot soup, maybe a game stew and roasted vegetables which you can easily prepare in advance, vacuum seal and just reheat when you need it.
A highlight on your piece of wood is interesting as well, choose turkey legs for a change, just ask your butcher to remove the bones for you and roll them up, so they look like a roulade. You can perfectly cook these legs sous-vide a few days in advance and you just need to give them some browning on the big day. I will explain how in a bit.
Now spread the lettuce leaves over the wood and start arranging your spread: smoked salmon, smoked trout, mini frittata’s, stuffed tomatoes, potato salad, roast vegetables, maybe some cheeses, relish, olives, slices of stollen, you name it.
Some items can be served better in a bowl, great, just, arrange the bowls in-between, it will look fantastic.
Soup and a stew if you go for one can be on the side in a slow cooker, or in a serving dish. If you go for the turkey legs, place them in the center of your big wooden serving plate together with a carving knife.
Place the whole wooden plate on your dining table; arrange some Christmas tree twigs and balls around the plate. Wow, imagine how super this will look.
If you made mini sausage rolls and/or filo pockets, serve them as a welcoming snack and when your guests arrive with a glass of mulled wine before attacking the table.
Now back to the turkey legs, here is how it works:
If you go for plain turkey legs, season them lightly with salt and pepper, place them individually in a vacuum bag, add one or two sprigs of rosemary and two tbsp of oil per bag. Vacuum and submerge the bags, one by one in a 150F pot with water, try as well as you can to keep the temperature level. If you like a bit of a springy texture, sous-vide for three hours, if you like a more braised like texture you can sous-vide for up to six hours. I advise the three hours because the legs will slice much neater when finished.
If you make a roulade, ask your butcher for some minced turkey or chicken meat, if he has minced game meat even better, venison for example.
Forget about asking your butcher to roll the legs for you at this stage.
Combine the minced meat with chopped mushrooms and crushed walnuts and season, spread the filling evenly over the legs and roll them up, tie the rolls with butcher string.
Tip: Make a little incision on the thick meat part of the de-boned legs, to get an even thickness of the meat.
Vacuum the legs and Sous-vide for three hours at 150F as well.
Whether you make plain legs or roulade leave the skin on, it will give a nice crisp later on.
Allow the legs to cool down, remove them from the vacuum bag, preserve the juices and shallow fry them golden brown on the day of serving. This will take about 5 minutes per leg; roll them regularly for even browning.
Leave to rest under thin foil.
You can pre-slice or just place a carving knife next to the legs so the guests can help themselves.
Some juices will release from the legs during the sous-vide process and combine with the oil you added, place the mix in a blender and pulse to coagulate, serve that sauce as gravy.
I’d love to hear how it worked out, if you decide to go for this exceptional style of your Christmas celebration.
I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas with an unforgettable dining experience.
My wishes come a bit early; just to give you time to order you vacuum sealer
By: Marinus Hoogendoorn