QUEENS COUNTY - Christmas will be here before we know it, and for many, the celebration is not complete without a full turkey dinner. The thought of preparing the Christmas meal can be rather daunting, especially if it’s your first time.
Chef Alan Crosby, who has been at White Point Beach Resort for over 14 years, says the trick is to do as much as possible ahead of time. He suggests peeling potatoes - and even cooking and mashing them in advance - to create a potato dish that can be warmed up.
“The same goes for side dishes, the more that you can prepare the day before, the more you will enjoy the meal,” says Crosby.
When it comes to cooking the turkey, chef Jonathan Rhyno, who has been at Lane’s Privateer Inn in Liverpool for seven years, suggests ordering fresh turkey from a Nova Scotia farm, like Meadowbrook Farms in Berwick, as they do.
“Keeping in mind that free range turkeys are a leaner bird, we make sure that we infuse the skin with butter and even bacon as well as stuffing the bird with apples, onion and celery for flavour and further moisture,” says Rhyno.
Rhyno also suggests basting the turkey during the cooking process, remembering to uncover the bird toward the end of the roasting process to ensure a golden-brown turkey.
Crosby recommends a less traditional way of cooking the turkey. Unless you really feel the need to present that whole roasted turkey, he doesn't think turkey works well cooked as a whole piece.
“I'm a fan of separating the breasts from the bird, taking off the thighs and cooking them separately,” says Crosby. This ensures moist white meat, and falling-off-the-bone dark meat.
“Your bones and trim can be turned into stock and your gravy can be made days before. It cuts the cook time for the turkey in half and makes carving the finished product a breeze,” says Crosby.
Crosby’s final tip is to brine the turkey with a simple mix of salt and sugar, dissolved in water with dry thyme, orange and lemon slices. This will add a ton of flavour to the bird, he says.
For those who still have no interest in cooking a Christmas meal themselves, head to the White Point resort to share a meal with the more than 400 other guests. The restaurant anticipates preparing 5,000 meals between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
Lane’s Privateer Inn will be open Christmas Eve for breakfast and lunch until 2 p.m. and then again for brunch on Boxing Day and the popular Boxing Day jam in the evening.
While you start thinking about your menu for Christmas, try one of the following recipes, including a delicious sweet potato salad that can be served warm or cold from White Point or Ron Lane’s egg nog from Lane’s Privateer Inn.
“This is my dad, Ron Lane's famous egg nog,” says owner Susan Lane. “He made it for us every Christmas and Taste of Nova Scotia features it on their website every year. It's incredible.”
Southwestern Sweet Potato Salad
3-4 lbs sweet potatoes peeled and diced (3/4 inch cubes)
½ cup canola oil
2 TBLS Monteal style steak spice
1.5 cups Mayonnaise
3 TBLS chipotle mango seasoning (by Clubhouse)
¼ cup cider vinegar
½ cup chopped cilantro
½ lb Cooked chorizo sausage, crumbled
3-4 green onions, chopped
Toss diced sweet potatoes with oil and Montreal steak spice. Bake at 400F until soft and browned on the edges.
Cool slightly. Combine mayo, seasoning, vinegar, onions and chorizo. Toss with warm sweet potatoes
Serve warm or chilled
Ron’s Famous Egg Nog
6 eggs (separated)
4 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
1 cup white sugar
pinch of salt
Ironworks Rum (to taste)
Put egg yolks in large bowl and whisk until light and fluffy. Slowly whisk in sugar. Stir in cream and milk.
Put in fridge to chill for several hours. Just before serving, whip egg whites with a pinch of salt until peaks form. Add rum (to taste) to yolk and cream mixture. Fold in egg whites.