One year Christmas dinner was a thrown-together pasta, bread, and salad meal. My excuse was that we were in Cabo at the time. I don’t cook in Cabo. Other years we join the cousins at their home and my contribution is a pie or two. But this year Christmas dinner is at our house. I look forward to the planning and cooking. Indeed, hosting Christmas dinner is an honor.
Over the years I have relied on the Los Angeles Times Food editors as a source of great recipes and good food advice. The LA Times has perfected the turkey technique and I am now a fan. The recipe is easy and fool proof: dry brined turkey. Dry brining means that you salt the turkey with approximately one tablespoon for each five pounds of turkey, seal the bird inside a plastic bag, and let the turkey sit in the refrigerator for three days. The salt draws out the moisture, but the moisture and salt are then reabsorbed. When you roast the turkey, the meat stays moist.
This year I’m adding fresh minced rosemary and thyme to the salt. We shall see, but this should impart a subtle rosemary-thyme flavor to the meat (not just to the skin). The turkey is sitting in the refrigerator, absorbing flavors right now. I just need to turn it and massage it once a day.
Another LA Times classic recipe is Mom Parsons’ Cranberries. I love this recipe. You can make the cranberries days ahead, stick them in the refrigerator, and forget about it. You start with a bit of sugar and water combined with whole cloves, allspice berries, and cinnamon sticks in a saucepan. When the sugar is dissolved, you add the cranberries and cook them until they just pop, about five minutes. You then add the zest of one orange—leaving your hands with the sweet smell of orange just to remind you of the yummy food coming your way soon!