Christmas Dinner Starts Early

We are having a change this year, the menu will remain the same as every year, Turkey, followed by real Plum Pudding, and then Christmas Pudding Ice Cream, but where we will differ is the method of cooking.

This year we built a smoker in which we can do either hot or cold smoking. So this year we will be starting some new Green Family Christmas traditions. On Christmas Eve we will be cold smoking salmon and cheese, including Brie, Cheddar and Gouda. Especially for the day I have treated myself to a vacuum packing machine, other men might want the latest X box game or football annual, but for me the thought of being able to vacuum pack smoked food beats it all , and solves the what to give elderly relations, and probably everybody else, for Christmas dilemma.

On Christmas Day the crowning glory will be the turkey which this year I am taking responsibility for which is going to be hot smoked.  If you have not done this yourself it involves a fire inside the smoker made from charcoal with some additional wood chips just to give it that added piquance. It doesn’t get quite as hot as your domestic oven so it will take longer to cook, so I will need to get up early, but then who can stay in bed after Father Christmas has been. However a slow cooked turkey, cooked in a hot damp smoky atmosphere, should remain moist and be packed full of flavour. That’s the theory, but I might have some sausages on standby just in case.

The point of all of this is this weekend its time to make the charcoal. Regular readers wont be surprised to know I make my own charcoal, and bless my soul there is a video which you can watch shown above. In the summer I cut down an old pear tree  and saved the trunk especially to make charcoal for my Christmas dinner. This should give a gentle aromatic sweet smoke to impart a glorious flavour to our bird. The process is very simple you put the cut up wood into a steel box, or you can use an old cooking pot, anything with a lid you can light a fire under. Normally I would be using my hardwood offcuts to be made into charcoal, and all the scraps, bits of old pallet etc. as firewood. The good stuff goes into the box and you bake it over a fire for several hours until you drive the moisture in the wood out which is all charcoal is. Its the perfect way to spend a day especially when the weather isn’t that exciting, and if you have children they love it especially if there is a marshmallow to cook as well. One visitor showed my how to cook the marshmallow and then squeeze it between two chocolate biscuits for a very indulgent treat, very nice, but like deep fried mars bars you only ever want it once.

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