An ambitious day
Following a fun and fruitful pre-Christmas session with Freddy we wanted to experiment with Christmas recipes and expand our Big Green Egg repertoires.
We started by putting a duck and a spatchcocked poussin in to roast. The former was simply salted, rubbed with garlic and pricked all over with a fork. We then used Freddy’s very novel technique to elevate it so that the fat would run off and be caught underneath it. I would have used a rack suspended over the roasting dish but Freddy’s idea was far superior to any that I have encountered to date: he peeled two large onions and cut them in half. He then put them down in the pan and laid the duck on them so that it was suspended above the roasting tin by means of four half onions. This meant that as juices and fat ran out of the duck it was flavoured with the roasting onions and at the same time was not soaking up fat as it cooked. It was an ingenious solution and one that I intend using in the future.
The spatchcocked chickens were cooked according to a Rosemary Hume and Muriel Downes recipe that I learnt as a twenty one year old when I attended Cordon Bleu demonstrations. They are first rubbed with a dry rub, sprinkled with olive oil and then roasted. Once partially cooked, a wet marinade is poured over them and they are set to roast (or grill if preferred) again. The resulting flavour of cooking them on the BGE was remarkable and took a Cookery School favourite recipe to another level.
Both the spatchcocked poussin and the duck were crisp on the outside and succulent inside with a very delicate smoky flavour. After removing the first lot of juices from the duck and keeping this to one side to use for the gravy later, we placed quartered and cored apples alongside the duck. These were delicious served with additional apple sauce and a gravy made from deglazing the pan with apple cider and then adding the remnants of the dripping which had been removed earlier in the process. The apple cider gravy and roast apples complemented the duck splendidly.
We then boned, stuffed and rolled an entire turkey.
The result was stupendous and again what was noticeable was how succulent the meat was and how crisp and golden brown the skin was. Truly memorable
In all cases we used a probe to ensure that the meat was thoroughly cooked, ensuring that a temperature of at least 80 degrees Celsius was reached even in the centre of the stuffed turkey roast.
We cooked at great length throughout the day using two layers in the BGE which we realised was most successful.
As well as the triumphs, there were one or two lessons to be learnt when we tried to introduce a third layer onto the ceramic shelf. We found that the vegetables done on the third (bottom) layer overcooked on the underside as we could not keep opening and moving all other dishes off in order to turn the baking veg so left – in error – them to do their own thing.
As we were doing so much cooking and checking, it meant that we opened and closed the Egg far more than one normally would and after a few hours the temperature dropped and we had to add more charcoal, fire lighter and rekindle the fire. We both resolved that when doing our Christmas meals, we would put the turkey in for a long slow cook and only introduce other menu items at appropriate times and resist the temptation to keep checking the bird.
We loved how easy it was to regulate the temperature using the vents at the top and bottom and also how easy it was to remove old ash (when cold) from the bottom of the egg.
We did a host of other dishes from roasting small cauliflowers and Brussels sprouts through to baking butternut squash simply cut in half. The highlight for us both were the Brussels sprouts which were again crisp on the outside but tender within. All that we did was to liberally sprinkle the veg with olive oil and sea salt.
An apple and blackberry crumble put into the dying embers did fine and was great served with lashings of whipped cream.
Next time we intend stewing quinces as we do at Cookery School in an oven – in this case our BGE – and doing a meat and a fish stew. The possibilities are endless and this session made us even more excited with our new acquisitions. This Christmas promises to be a very special culinary experience.