We all know that nothing beats a Trini Christmas, a fact that was immortalized in the paranguage “Trini Christmas is d best” by Susan Daniel-Maicoo. [Sidebar: I hope she and the Venezuelan mister from Margarita are somewhere living their best life.]
Either way, Christmas is literally just around the corner, so if you’re looking for ideas on how to make Christmas lunch better, I’ve got you!
I spoke to several pros for this piece and here’s what they had to say.
Sweeten your sorrel with simple syrup
Photo: Baiwadi Assing | EatAhFood.com
Sorrel is synonymous with Christmas … point blank, period! But instead of boiling the sorrel and adding sugar afterwards, Chef Ben de Pork Hangar of Quan Kep says you should use simple syrup to sweeten your sorrel instead. It’s super easy too, here’s how:
Step 1: Bring equal parts of the water and sugar to a boil.
Step 2: Add spices – think orange peel, a few pieces of star anise, and a tablespoon of grated ginger along with your usual cinnamon and cloves.
Step 3: Wait a few minutes until it becomes “thick”, then remove it from the heat.
Step 4: Filter and mix with the boiled sorrel. Add a few Angostura bitters and serve chilled.
PRO TIP: Want to boost flavor and color? Use black sorrel instead of red sorrel.
Make your own ginger beer … literally.
Photo: Baiwadi Assing | EatAhFood.com
Staying on the simple syrup theme a bit longer, here’s one for ginger beer. Baiwadi Assing, content creator at Eatahfoodtt.com (and self-proclaimed Laurel and Annatto Ambassador) shared a tip for brewing a flavorful ginger beer using simple syrup. Here’s how:
Step 1: Bring in equal parts water and white sugar with a little grated ginger (about a 2 inch piece is fine, but feel free to adjust the amount of ginger according to your taste) until boiling.
Step 2: Once the sugar crystals have dissolved, turn off the heat and let cool.
Step 3: Strain and add about a shot glass of syrup to any cold beer you have on hand and voila … ginger beer!
The good thing is that you can use non-alcoholic beer for this recipe to make it family friendly or mix it with club soda for ginger ale. If you need visuals for this,
the recipe is here.
PRO TIP: Baiwadi says you should feel free to experiment with other flavor combinations – a combination of black sorrel, cloves, cinnamon and ginger boiled in syrup and then added to the beer. a bad sorrel sorrel.
Brine your turkey
Photo of Monstera de Pexels
Full Disclosure: I’m a vegetarian so won’t try this one, but turkey is a good alternative to pork. It does have a reputation for being dry though, so to avoid Chef Ben telling you to brine your bird for at least 24 hours. This ensures it’s succulent and flavorful when roasted, #dryturkeyRIEN.
Here is a guide for a 10 to 12 pound bird:
Step 1: Bring 3 cups of water to a boil, then add 3/4 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of salt. Go crazy with the aromatics – garlic, onion, citrus, and rosemary make a good mix. Add a few bay leaves, two cinnamon sticks and thank her later.
Step 2: When the boil is finished, remove from the heat and add another four cups of water.
Step 3: Immerse the bird in the liquid and refrigerate overnight, or two days if possible.
Step 4: When you are ready to roast, remove from the brine and pat dry. Season with additional spices and put small pieces of butter under the skin.
Step 5: Roast at 350 ° F (180 ° C) until internal temperature reads 165 ° F (74 ° C), then remove from oven and let stand for at least 20-30 minutes before carving.
PRO TIP: Total cooking time depends on the size of the poultry. Small birds cook faster, so allow about 12 minutes per pound for an unstuffed turkey. If the temperature is too high, the proteins in the meat will begin to tighten, removing moisture and leaving the meat drier.
Glaze this ham
Photo courtesy of Ben QK
When Marcia Miranda sang “bring dong d ha” ‘… did you feel that? Good, because ham is life! There is just something about the smell of ham cooked with pineapple and cloves that screams Christmas.
Some people tend to just unwrap their hams, put cloves in them, and cook them. These people, dear reader, are what we call savages. Don’t be like them … improve your ham life with a little frosting! It adds sweetness to the already tasty ham. Making frosting is super easy too! Here’s how Chef Ben does it:
Step 1: Mix 1/2 cup of honey with 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1/4 cup of brown sugar and 1/4 cup of orange juice.
Step 2: Heat on the stove until the sugar melts and everything is combined.
Step 3: During the last 30 minutes of cooking your ham, remove the foil and brush the glaze every 10 minutes. That’s three windows!
Step 4: When the ham is done, hit it again with the remaining glaze. Let sit for about 15 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute. Do not cut the ham while it is hot!
PRO TIP: If you want a crispy crust, turn the oven to broil during the last 3-5 minutes of cooking for a dark outer layer while keeping the meat inside juicy.
Think of fishy thoughts!
With ham, chicken and turkey (to a lesser extent) available everywhere you turn, it’s easy to forget that fish is an option. But, Chief Attala Maharaj, owner of Sails restaurant and pub and the Salted dog restaurant says stuffed whole fish can be a great spreadable addition. It might sound intimidating, but with the help of your local fishermen, you’ll be whipping up an Instagram-worthy masterpiece in no time. Chef Attala says the trick to getting great seafood is simplicity, so here’s how to make a simple roast fish:
Step 1: Find a fresh whole fish suitable for cooking, such as snapper and grouper, and ask your fish dealer to debon it for you. You want your fish to weigh around 5 pounds – if it’s too small it will dry out, but if it’s too big it won’t cook evenly.
Step 2: Season your fish. There’s no need to over-season here – the fresh green seasoning (beni chadon, chives, and parsley), garlic, ginger, salt, and black pepper are the basics that work well with and uplift almost all. types of seafood.
Step 3: Prepare your stuffing separately – this can range from a mixture of vegetables like ochres, tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers etc. to a mixture of chopped seafood such as shrimp, crabmeat and fish. Generously stuff your fish, including small cubes of butter.
Step 4: Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes at 350 ° F (180 ° C). Then remove the foil and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
Step 5: When you’re done, remove and garnish generously with melted butter, lemon wedges, chopped parsley and dill. Serve to a chorus of oooohs and ahhhhs.
PRO TIP: There are two popular ways to prepare fish for stuffing: butterfly and canoe. Butterfly means laying the fish on its side, while canoeing allows the fish to sit on its stomach and be stuffed (like a canoe).
Be careful, avoid large gatherings, and please don’t put COVID on Christmas. You’ll end up on Uncle Terry’s naughty list!