Current Issue #488

Rare Treat: Make Christmas Great Again

Rare Treat: Make Christmas Great Again

Make Christmas great again.

What a year 2016 has been!

Before we all man the lifeboats, let us enjoy one more Rare Treat for the year. There are a million-and-one recipes for your perfect Christmas turkey, roast joint of beef etc, however it’s notoriously tricky to find one for a gravy that doesn’t use any flour, in the same way that Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt found it tricky to find out much about the serial killer John Doe in the movie Se7en.

I’ve never been a massive fan of adding flour or making a roux for any of my sauces in the kitchen or at home. Instead I use the juices off the bottom of the resting pan as a base of some epic sauces. In fact, I believe the perfect roast lunch gravy is the best part of the meal as it will even mask the taste of your Nan’s overcooked sprouts. Just make sure you’re sober enough to appreciate the climax of your diners, but I imagine the words gosh, crumbs and crikey will put in an appearance.


Whole turkey, joints of beef, shoulders of lamb, whole chicken and legs of pork all make for ample roasting juices. Roast in a deep tray but not with too much oil and avoid nonstick at all costs: you’ll need those browned bits as the flavour-base of your pan sauce.


After roasting, pour off any fat from the tray and reserve, while keeping all those bits you worked so hard for. No need to wipe out the tray – a little fat is a good thing. Turn the heat down to medium and add aromatics (think one chopped shallot, a couple cloves of garlic, carrot, thyme, rosemary etc.) and a teaspoon or so of spices (such as yellow mustard seeds or crushed black peppercorns). Cook, stirring to keep things moving, until the vegetables are softened and the spices have bloomed, about four minutes.


Now is the time to add liquid. We love using red or white wine for the acidity it lends, as well as a little chicken stock. You don’t need to add much; about 250mL will do for a sauce to serve four. While you’re at it, throw in a little lemon zest if you’ve got lemons lying around. Then simmer, using a wooden spoon to scrape up anything stuck to the pan (also known as fond), until the liquid is thickened and reduced by about half (five or so minutes).


When the liquid is reduced, pour into a tall container. Add a little more chopped garlic, a squeeze of lemon juice, maybe a sprig of fresh marjoram and the meat fats you kept earlier. With a hand blender, blend till smooth. This makes the sauce glossy and rich. Slice the meat and drizzle the pan sauce over or serve it alongside.

There you have it.

Enjoy your holiday, relax and just keep telling yourself that Christmas day isn’t a Truman Show-esque VR simulation designed to send you insane, that’s just all the other days of our lives.

Music Pairing: Jingles for your ear-bells

Sadly, for all of you, I’m completely indifferent to Christmas. I don’t have the vehemence to be a Grinch, and, obviously, I’m still bitter about the fact that some guy gets a world-wide celebration every year and I never got the Woman’s Day Swimming Pool Cake.

If you don’t know what that is, treat yourself to a quick Google adventure.

Plus, as a hospo worker, December is basically an advent calendar of human madness and, if it’s possible, even worse Spotify playlist suggestions. After a long day of shopping for gifts behind slow-walkers, you’ll need something to unleash all that inbound credit card angst and inexplicable rage. Cue Slipknot’s Vol. 3: Subliminal Verses.

Perfect for the long ride home and tidal waves of wrapping paper.

Have yourself a temporary, thrashing, little Christmas.

Booze Pairing: How to be the drunk uncle

A cheat’s guide to Fig Brandy Cream Liqueur, brought to you by Africola booze wizard, Myf Rolfe.

You’ll need:
– Any vessel that is sealable and holds about a litre
– 750mL bottle of brandy (we like St Agnes)
– 200g dried figs
– One orange rind
– Vanilla bean (split in half)
– Dehydrated Davidson plum (cut into large chunks)
– Muscovado sugar (to taste)
– Optional: condensed milk

You have to:
[1] Pour brandy into your chosen sealable vessel with all of the ingredients, except for the sugar

[2] Leave for a week

[3] After a week, empty into a large pot and heat gently for 15 minutes or until steaming. Do not allow to boil.

[4] Add sugar to taste

[5] Allow to cool and stash for at least another week in your vessel

[6] Serve over ice with orange rind if you like it straight up. Alternatively, add a table spoon per 30mLs of your fabulous moonshine and stir to combine and add ice.

[7] Short story is, Baileys sucks. If you want to jazz this up for Christmas, grate a little nutmeg on for holiday pizzaz. Continue to play Slipknot.



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