Ian Morris continues with his festive theme in this week’s column as he turns to one of the most important parts of the holidays: the food.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, and with the announcement this week that the MHRA have approved the first Covid vaccine, there is hope for a much brighter 2021.
This week also saw the re-enactment of one of the finest Morris family traditions: how much turkey will we need?
You would have thought this was straightforward. A few years ago we moved from the traditional turkey to the turkey crown; for those not in the know, this comes from your butcher and is a solid block of turkey breast meat. No bones, no waste, just solid delicious turkey breast. Some people reading this will be shaking their heads and extolling the virtues of ‘dark meat’. Sorry, you are wrong. Turkey legs are hideous tendon nightmares of the nastiest kind. If you follow my recipe for turkey legs, grip them firmly by the smaller end, open the patio door and fling the hideousness as far away as you can.
Anyone pulling the ‘turkey breast is dry’ face can wind their necks in as well. Mine will be cased in butter, smoked bacon, and cooked in the BBQ smoker in cherry wood smoke – it will be golden and delicious, guaranteed.
So the question is, how much? Well, there are four of us adults.
Mrs Morris asks, ‘8lbs?’
I have my head in my hands. We bought a 6lbs turkey last year and were still eating our way through it come New Year.
‘I really like the leftovers.’
I know this is true because of the preponderance of pork and chestnut stuffing that is secreted into the freezer. When we cleaned ours out last month there was utter horror from my wife when she realised we didn’t have any left over from last year. I did point out that we are about to enter the golden age of stuffing-based procurement opportunities.
We will, of course, also order a gammon that will be far too large for even our largest cooking vessel. Last year I managed to get it into a massive cast iron casserole pot, and the weight of this with the gammon and the cola it was cooking in made it a pretty decent dead lift weight.
So we have the meat sorted. Now it’s time for the ‘don’t go mad’ conversation about chocolate and other Christmas extras. It has started already though. A delivery at the weekend was quickly followed by: ‘It’s the boys’ advent calendars!’
The ‘boys’ are 17 and 20 years old and we agreed not to buy advent calendars after the ‘great shame’ of last year when the entire calendar met its end in a single day, not quite in the spirit of the game.
I mused on where this Christmas excess came from and Nicky reminded me of my parents sideboard.
Now this couldn’t have been more ’70s. It was a gleaming, shiny faux wood-effect thing in cream and brown, anqd just before Christmas, its top was cleared and a tableau laid out of sweet and savoury treats. Bowls of satsumas, tubs of Cheddars and Twiglets, the tin of Quality Street and of course, the ‘dates for Uncle Ernie.’ If you are not of a certain age then the wooden box of ‘Eat Me’ dates with an odd plastic fork to uck the ghastly, sticky things out of the box, will be a mystery to you. As I’ve got older, I understand why Uncle Ernie would dive on the dates after a massive lunch, and then fall asleep for a fair old while. He was a type I diabetic and it was probably due to excess date consumption.
This year we are solid in our resolve though. A simpler Christmas is one the cards. We won’t be munching Matchmakers in March, or picking out the coffee creams and eating them in May, even though we still can’t stand them. Nope.
We are going to be austere in our purchasing. Of course, there will be a tub or two of cheese footballs, and Twiglets – well, it isn’t Christmas without Twiglets – and you don’t need all that skin on the roof of your mouth anyway.
Come Saturday, I will be at the butcher’s. It’s going to be a 5lb turkey crown and the same size gammon. Well, unless Nicky reads this beforehand, then we will be back to 8lbs of each…
Something for the Weekend will be back next Friday, tackling national issues from a local perspective. In the meantime, you can check out all of Ian’s writing for S&C, here, along with past editions of the Pompey Politics Podcast.