Reflecting Back on Christmas Dinner
As I shared in an earlier blog post, I made a traditional Thanksgiving dinner but had a goal to make an Italian-themed Christmas dinner where I bridged the gap between a traditional American dinner with Italian dishes.
Yeah, I know that this blog posting should have been more timely and been posted a day or two after Christmas. Lately I've been focused on trying to get more followers on my social media sites so blog posts hit the back burner.
Anyway, I was going through pictures on my phone today and came across the pictures I snapped while cooking Christmas dinner. There were definite hits and misses with the Christmas feast that I prepared. I made several last minute changes to the menu as a concession to include a few more traditional items, for example instead of making a porchetta I made a ham. The menu for dinner was: variety of quick appetizers, meat and cheese tray, Italian roasted mushrooms and vegetables, duck ragu and, what I had hoped to be the star of the dinner, roasted capon with fig and pancetta stuffing.
I was able to prepare a few items the day before to lower the stress of Christmas day. I strongly recommend finding a few items that can be made the day before a big dinner event! The items that I made the day before were some of the appetizers, the meat and cheese tray and the duck ragu. I did record the making of the duck ragu so keep an eye on our YouTube page for the video. I did not record anything on Christmas day since I knew it would be way too chaotic.
Before I go any further you may be wondering "what the heck is a capon?" A capon is a rooster that was castrated at around 8 weeks of age that was first done by the Romans. The castration causes the rooster to lose all agression (so a large number of these castrated roosters can be kept together), they fatten like a hen and the meat is incredibly moist. It definitely tasted better than the average roasting hen.
The capon wasn't the star that I hoped it would be but that we completely my fault. I used Martha Stewart's recipe which was thorough and easy to understand. To save oven space for other items I used my electric roaster which I've used for Thanksgiving turkey, porchetta and many other meats. Well, I cooked the capon for several hours and completely forgot to baste the bird from time to time. I was in a hurry as all the items I was preparing were getting done at the same time. Without really checking the capon, I removed the bird from the roaster so that it could rest. It did smell amazing! When everyone was seated at the table I cut into the breast of the capon to find that it wasn't done and needed about another 45 minutes to an hour to cook. Thankfully there was enough food to feed an army including the pan of fig and pancetta stuffing (I made a large portion of the fig and pancetta stuffing, so we had a pan of stuffing after stuffing the bird).
Thankfully, I didn't clean out the roaster. All I did was pull the capon from the roaster, so I just dropped it back in and turned the heat back on. After cooking for another hour and basting the bird several times it did turn out amazing. I wasn't going to just throw away the capon after paying $5.99/pound!
So, enjoy the pictures below that I took with my iPhone will preparing dinner. Watch my YouTube channel at http://YouTube.com/c/povitaliancooking or this website for the Duck Ragu video!
PICTURES FROM PURCHASE, PREP AND FINAL DISH FOR CHRISTMAS DINNER 2016
The meat counter at Carfagna's Market is always amazing. There were incredibly busy the day I was there. I pulled my number as soon as I arrived, I was number D52 but they were only on C85. Thankfully, they had about 15 people working behind the counter so it moved along pretty well.
My haul from Carfagna's! I love shopping at a real Italian market.
The meat and cheese tray that I put together. I used three different types of salami, five different cheses and a few other meats.
When making Duck Ragu I roast rather than cook my ducks. The roasted ducks were beautiful.
Cooking onions and pancetta for the Fig and Pancetta stuffing. The smell was incredible after adding broth, orange zest & juice.
The Fig and Pancetta stuffing that was left over after stuffing the capon and after baking it in the oven.
The Capon with Fig and Pancetta stuffing after it's 2nd stint in the roaster when it was finally done clear through and ready to eat.