Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Red Currant Turkey Sauce

I was living in Hong Kong the first time I ever spent Christmas away from my family. I had only been there for about four months, so I decided to stay in HK - it's the only time I've enjoyed northern hemisphere winter weather on Christmas Day.

I lived with my boyfriend and a girl named Jessie in a five hundred square foot apartment in Wan Chai. We had a kitchen but it was not fully equipped - there was no oven, only a portable gas cook top and grill. So I approached a friend who was a chef at a nearby brasserie and asked her if she would consider roasting a turkey for me on Christmas Eve. She agreed, keen, I know, to get in the Christmas spirit herself.

I set off the to Welcome Supermarket and acquired the biggest frozen turkey I could lay my hands on. I didn't care that I was only feeding three people - I was happy to eat turkey sandwiches for a week afterwards if need be. Anyway, frozen turkeys take about three days to defrost. The one I'd bought was sealed in shrink wrapped plastic. I wrapped it again in not one, but two plastic shopping bags, then put it on top of the fridge in a foil tray.

It never occurred to me that Cheech and Chong, the terminably bored cats that lived in our apartment, would take an interest in that turkey. It was frozen, afterall! What could be good about that? But I arrived home from work on December 23 to find my flatmate waiting for me. She was very sorry to tell me Cheech and Chong had mauled my turkey's left drumstick. Of course I was disappointed, but not mortified. I wrapped the semi-defrosted bird up and carted it down to the brasserie to show my chef friend the problem. She said the bird could be saved - but only if we cut the mauled drumstick off and threw it away. I quickly agreed. My turkey was slated for roasting the next day.

I finished work on Christmas Eve and raced over to the brasserie to collect my turkey to be greeted by a kitchen of chefs, cooks and dish hands, all intoxicated by the smell of roasted turkey. My one-legged bird smelled absolutely scrumptious! In the taxi on the way home, the cab driver offered me a couple of hundred bucks for my turkey! I politely refused. Then when I walked into my apartment, I was immediately mobbed by Cheech and Chong, eager to pick up where they'd left off with my turkey. It was clear to me that my turkey was not safe anywhere in the kitchen.

I took the turkey to my room and placed it on the book shelf. The small space was quickly overwhelmed by the aroma of roasted bird. Driven mad myself, I placed the turkey inside my wardrobe, slipped into bed and turned off the light. But I hardly slept a wink! I was hounded all night by the sound of little paws hooking under the crack of the door, desperate to snag a tasty morsel. When I rose on Christmas Day, I stepped out in the hallway, nearly squashing both cats in the process - they had kept a vigil all night!

It wasn't until six months later that my flatmate told me the full details of the turkey's encounter with Cheech and Chong. Jessie had come home and tried to open the front door but couldn't - something was stuck behind it, forcing it shut. She gave an almighty shove and heard a crack - the sound of my turkey's rib cage breaking. Cheech and Chong had dragged the bird off the top of the fridge, out of the kitchen, across the lounge room floor and had finally wedged it behind the front door where they chewed through three layers of plastic to get at the partially frozen drumstick! Jessie had shooed them away, picked the poor victimised turkey up off the floor, wiped up the incriminating trail of juices and placed it back on the fridge top. When I heard the full story I nearly wet myself laughing! The ironic thing was, once the bird was roasted we found the remaining turkey leg was so overcooked, we had to feed it to the cats anyway!


Ingredients
all the dripping, juices and fat from the turkey roasting tray
1oz butter
2 dessert spoons plain flour
1.5 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
3 tblsp red currant jelly
1 tsp whole green peppercorns, crushed
extra water

1. Combine the turkey juices (et al), butter and plain flour in a saucepan over a medium heat on the stove top. Stir until combined and allow to heat until the mix begins to bubble. Allow to cook for one full minute.

2. Reduce heat and add chicken stock. Stir vigorously with a whisk to combine, ensuring lumps do not form.

3. Add red wine and stir to combine. Then add red currant jelly. Stir until jelly melts.

4. Add green peppercorns a little at a time, checking the flavour as you go, to ensure you season your sauce to your own taste.

5. Add extra water if you find your sauce is a little thick. You want it to be a nice pouring consistency.

6. Serve with roasted turkey, honey baked ham, and all your other Christmas goodies.

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