French Christmas Dinner ©Rh2010

 

A French Christmas dinner is usually a traditional affair, the highlights of which are a starter of oysters, a delicious stuffed roast goose or turkey, and a yummy Bûche de Noël (Christmas Yule Log) for desert. Have yourself a sumptuous festive feast, enjoying some favourite recipes which we have recreated here for you.

Timing: Naturally the Bûche de Noël is prepared in advance, the turkey will take approximately 45 minutes to prepare and 2 hours 30 minutes to cook, the oysters take very little cooking time and should be cooked just before serving, but they do need about 30 minutes to prepare, whilst the aperitif is to be served as soon as your guests arrive.

And remember: Christmas calories don’t count. Bon appetit!

 

APERITIF: Kir Royal – per glass

Ingredients:
1 cl Creme de Cassis
1 measure of champagne

Method:
• pour a fat drop pf crème de cassis in the bottom of a champagne flute, add the champagne, and serve immediately.

***

L’ENTRÉE: Oysters with Caviar and Blanquette Sabayon – serves 6

Ingredients:
18 oysters (triple zero if possible)
50g caviar
7 egg yolks
25 cl brut sparkling wine (blanquette de Limoux, crèmant de Bourgogne, or similar)
salt and pepper

Method for the oysters:
• preheat the oven to 120 °C
• create a filter by placing a small length of muslin over a saucepan, then open the oysters over the filter so that the water they contain is collected in the saucepan without any impurities
• keep the oyster flesh in a bowl to one side
• thoroughly clean out the oyster shells and then choose 6 of the deepest and prettiest ones
• place the 6 shells in a flat dish and put the dish in the oven to warm up the shells
• remove the muslin from the saucepan, and heat the water from the oysters on the hob without allowing it to boil
• prepare a new dry piece of muslin
• using a perforated spoon, plunge each oyster one at a time in the hot water for a maximum of 20 seconds no more – heating them through but not cooking them!
• then delicately place the oysters onto the dry muslin to drain
• take the dish with the shells out of the oven and place it on a plate warmer
• place 3 oysters into each shell

Method for the sabayon:

• take the water from the oysters and filter again through another piece of muslin
• boil a separate saucepan of water
• in a large bowl beat the egg yolks together, and then mix in the water from the oysters little by little
• place the bowl over over the saucepan of boiled water, and continue string whilst mixing in the Blanquette little by little until the mixture thickens

Presentation:

• using a ladle, pour the sabayon sauce over each oysters shell
• then, use a teaspoon to add a generous topping of caviar on top of each shell

***

LE PLAT: Stuffed Roast Turkey (or Goose) with Prunes and Dates – serves 8

Ingredients:
one 3.5kg turkey
40g goose fat
32 slices of bacon

the turkey’s liver
1 baguette
500g sausage meat
1 egg
30g butter
1 bouquet garni
100g dried raisins
1 glass of Port

24 prunes (3 per person)
24 dates (3 per person)

Method for the stuffing:

• in a bowl, soak the dried raisins in the Port
• take a saucepan and melt the butter, then add the liver and born it on all sides
• remove the liver to one side
• in the same saucepan quickly fry the sausage meat and then take the saucepan off the heat
• in a new bowl, mix the sausage meat and the liver and then leave to cool
• take the baguette and crumble it into bread crumbs
• drain the raisons form the Port, taking care to reserve the Port to one side
• add the bread crumbs and raisins to the cooled sausage meat and liver, mix well and then add the bouquet garni, with a pinch of salt and pepper
• add the egg and mix all thoroughly

Method for the turkey (adjust cooking times for goose according to size)

• preheat the oven to 200°C
• stuff the turkey with the stuffing
• sew up the turkey, and then attach 8 slices of bacon to the turkey using some of the goose fat to bard it.
• place the turkey in a pre-buttered baking pan and coat the turkey with the rest of the goose fat
• season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for 90 minutes, basting it regularly (if necessary add a bit of hot water to the juice to baste with)

• whilst the turkey is cooking prepare the dates and prunes by first removing their pips
• roll each date and each prune in a slice of bacon

• after the turkey has cooked for 90 minutes, remove it from the oven and remove the 8 slices of bacon that covered it
• return the turkey to the oven for 30 minutes, basting it regularly until the top is nicely and evenly browned
• remove the turkey from the oven, and add the dates and prunes to the pan all around the turkey
• reduce the heat to 170 °C, then return the turkey with its garnish to the oven for a further 25 minutes, basting regularly

Method for the sauce:

• pour of the cooking juice from the turkey into a saucepan
• add to this the Port that you have reserved from before
• heat on the hob for about 2 minutes until it thickens

Presentation:

• place the cooked turkey on a platter, surrounded by the bacon wrapped prunes and dates, with the Port sauce served separately
• accompany the turkey with pureed apples and pureed chestnuts

***

LE DESSERT: Chocolate and Chestnut Bûche de Noël – serves 8

Ingredients:

8 dessert spoons cocoa powder
4 pinches of salt
150g flour
8 eggs
225g powdered sugar
10 to 12 drops of bitter almond flavour

4 dessert spoons of rum or Grand Marnier
4 teaspoons of powdered gelatine
250g dark chocolate (over 60% cocoa)
80g powdered sugar
4 level dessert spoons of confit chestnuts paste (pâte de marrons confits)
250g full fat creme fraîche

Cocoa powder
Christmas characters, ideally edible ones made from marzipan or icing sugar

Method for the cake:

• preheat the oven to 200°C
• remove the baking tray from the oven, and place onto it some grease proof paper coated in a thin layer of butter and flour
• in a bowl sift together the flour, the cocoa powder and the salt
• in different bowls separate the egg yolks from the whites, then beat the egg whites until they fluff up but don’t let them get too firm
• add 180g of the sugar to the egg whites and beat the mixture until it is firm
• then add the rest of the sugar to the egg yolks and beat until the mixture goes white and creamy
• add the almond extract and the flour mix to the egg yolk mix and blend carefully
• then slowly fold in the egg whites using a metal palette knife, taking care to keep it might and fluffy
• pour the mix onto the paper and use the palette to spread it over the paper in an even layer
• place in the oven for 12 minutes, the cake is ready when it starts to brown a little and small bubbles appear on the surface
• whilts the cake is in the oven prepare another grease proof paper onto which you spread a layer of icing sugar
• once the cake is cooked, take it out of the oven and immediately tun it over onto the new piece of paper
• remove the paper used to cook the cake, and then carefully roll up the cake keeping the new paper in place
• allow to cool completely on a grill

Method for the cream:

• melt the chocolate using a bain-marie
• in a separate bowl mix the rum and gelatine, then add the melted chocolate to this
• in a separate bowl, beat together the chestnut paste and the powdered sugar
• add this to the chocolate mix, and then add the crème fraîche and mix thoroughly
• set the mix to one side for a while to rest

Creating the bûche de Noël:

• carefully unroll the cake, and remove the paper, cover the cake with about half of the cream mix and roll the cake up again
• place the cake on a platter and then cover it with the rest of the cream
• use a fork to give the cream the texture of a tree log, sift cocoa powder over the log and decorate with Christmas characters
• place the log in the fridge for 3 hours to set, and take it out of the fridge about an hour before serving.

Joyeuses Fêtes!

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