CHRISTMAS, at its essence, is about meat.
Oh sure, there’s Jesus and Santa and all that, but let’s be real – it’s all just cover for ingesting as much meat as we can fit inside our bodies.
And if you don’t eat meat, hell, get into the gluttonous spirit anyway – you can gorge on roast spuds until, well, the cows come home.
So how do you create the ultimate Christmas lunch?
We thought we’d ask Mondo Meat mastermind and celebrity chef Vince Garreffa for his tips to make sure your festive feast is the talk of the town.
1. You … cook me all night long
“One of the things people face this time of year is never enough oven space,” Vince says.
“For that I say to them, why don’t you think about cooking overnight?
“It’s so easy to grab a decent sized turkey and spice it all up and put it in the oven at 100 degrees at 10 o’clock at night and take it out the next morning at eight or 10am when it’s cooked for 10 or 12 hours.”
2. Eskie mojo
“When you wake up you’re ready to take the item out, wrap it in alfoil and put it in a drinks eskie,” Vince says.
“If you put any cooked meat that is hot, wrapped in alfoil into a drinks eskie, the eskie changes into a hot box. It keeps the temperature in.
“It’ll be perfectly cooked, and you’ve got hours to cook the lasagne, glaze the ham, do the potatoes.”
3. Spice it up … simply
“I like the flavour of turkey, so I really only put on a nice little bit of salt. I usually put two or three different colours of pepper – and I do like to have black, white and red, the red being paprika,” Vince says.
“It adds a lovely sheen to the skin.
“I add a little bit of garlic and a little bit of rosemary and that’s more or less enough.
“That becomes the spicing I throw on the outside and on the inside.”
4. Get stuffed
“I do believe my turkeys always cook better when they are hollow, with no stuffing,” Vince says.
“The turkey’s got the full force of that heat on the inside as well. It just cooks better.
“I cook my stuffing on the side.
“I wrap it up in alfoil and make it like a sausage and I cook the sausage.
“I like stuffing where the flavour’s been developed by frying it off.
“I don’t like putting raw stuffings together because then all they finish up doing is steaming when they roast, either inside the alfoil or inside the bird.
“If you were going to do, for instance, my veal, mushroom and pine nuts stuffing – you actually cook off the veal in a frying pan with some nice flavours (white wine, pine nuts, spring onion) and suddenly that mince has taken on those flavours.
“Any juice created by the white wine you can soak up by throwing bread crumbs in it .
“You end up making this beautiful stuffing where the flavour got created in the frying pan because it would have fried off and created more caramel.
“That makes a more delicious stuffing.
5. Ham it up with stone fruit
“Take a beautiful ham, you remove the skin and score the fat, and you glaze the outside of the ham with a mixture of honey, brown sugar and a little touch of something else, could be orange juice, Grand Marnier, whatever you’re in the mood for,” Vince says.
“You paint the fat with it every 10 minutes while it’s baking at 180 degrees and all that fat goes golden brown.
“Nearly everybody uses cloves, everybody uses cherries, everybody uses pineapple to decorate a ham. But it’s stone fruit season – just imagine using amazing slices of peach, of plum.
“I do one where I put a slice of lime in the centre, and I’ve already fried that slice of lime in just a little tiny touch of the glaze, so it becomes all sticky and delicious, and I put it in the centre of the ham.
“Then I surround the ham with half, length-way slices of banana.
“Think of those slices as petals, put the lime in the middle and it looks like a flower.
“You just touch it up with a bit of honey and put it in the oven for five minutes and the honey and the banana sort of mingle together, not enough to disintegrate it, just enough to have this amazing decoration on the ham.”