…..Continued from last post.
Grab a sit, this one is a mouthful :), pun intended!
So it looks like I’ll be catering for over 100 people for Christmas lunch! Wheeeu, no pressure.
But this is what I expected, this is how African culture rolls! We are slaughtering a cow as part of the traditional celebration and people smell meat and alcohol from miles away. 20 invited: 100 show up!
But I still had to cook the Christmas lunch. My mother made her famous ujeqe, traditional steam bread, the night before. So my plan: all the uninvited men who came for meat and booze, that’s what I’ll give them- braai’d and boiled beef served with the steamed bread. And my brother and his friends will do the braai’ing and the cooking of the beef from the slaughtering, not that any of these people know him.
All the invited guests and female gate crashers, I’ll serve the cooked lunch. That brings down the numbers to about 50 guests.
On the Menu: honey and ginger marinaded gammon steam cooked in pineapple juice; lemon and garlic roast chicken; spicy roast potatoes; served with pilaf rice, mixed pepper couscous, potato salad, pasta salad and an apple green salad.
Dessert: the original plan was cheese cake but I could not for the life of me, find any cream cheese on Christmas Eve. New plan, mixed summer fruit skewers, with ice cream cones for the kids or adults who want to feel like kids again. It’s too hot anyway for anything rich.
I have my beautiful assistants ready! My best friend and my younger sister. Let’s begin!
The night before, marinade your meats: Chicken pieces(5kg) with 100ml of lemon juice, 4 tbs chopped garlic, 3 tbs of white pepper, 2 tbs of salt. Rub well on the chicken, cover and rest overnight
My 2nd meat is gammon. In our African culture we don’t make gammon, we usually stick to chicken, usually fried, and beef for Christmas lunch. But the last 3 Christmases since moving back home, I made gammon for my family. So they also love it now.
For my gammon marinade and this is a large gammon, I need 3 tbs of ginger powder, 100ml of honey, 50 ml of soy sauce and rub the gammon thoroughly. Leave to rest over night.
It doesn’t help when I get only 3 hours of sleep, curtesy of my little sister wanting to stay up the whole night chatting. Good bonding experience though, I love her to bits and have missed her very much.
I have 4 sisters, all younger than me with the youngest aged 6. So I allocated everyone a Christmas task. With the ‘older’ younger sister to help me in the kitchen with the cooking.
But I need someone dedicated to peeling potatoes, I am catering for a lot of people so that means a lot of potatoes.
Fortunate for me, there’s a woman hanging around our house. I think she wants something but isn’t sure how to ask, at 07 am! So I ask her to assist and she’s more than happy to oblige, except she wouldn’t get out of my kitchen when she was done. My mother’s kitchen is small as it is and with my 2 sous chefs, it’s even smaller. I had no choice but to ask my mom to nicely distract her out of the kitchen.
Back to the cooking, first things first, the gammon. It needs to cook in the oven for 4 hours. I start by roughly chopping 2 onions, 2 carrots and place in the oven tray with 4 bay leaves, 3 cinnamon sticks, 1 tbs of cloves, 6 cloves of garlic and 2 stock tubes. Then on top of these place the gammon, pour in 100ml of pineapple juice and 100 ml of sweet white wine. Cover with foil and place in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 4 hrs. Removing the foil after 3 1/2 hrs, then continuing the cooking.
After the gammon has been in for 3 hours, it’s time for the roast potatoes and the chicken half an hour later. Timing is everything when you’re cooking for a lot of people.
In an oven, add the quartered potatoes, rub with salt, pepper, 3 mix pheka spice( I got this from the local Indian spice shoo and the shop assistant wasn’t sure what the mix is but I’m betting on paprika, cayenne with nutmeg or cumin). Rub on the potatoes, then throw in 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 bay leaves, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. Roast in the oven at 180 degrees for 80-90 min.
Half an hour later, the chicken in a roast pan goes into the oven, with a drizzle of olive oil. This will cook for an hour at 180 degrees Celsius.
In the meantime, start your salads.
Boil quarters of potato in salty water with 4 ginger slices, 3 cloves of garlic and 2 cinnamon sticks with 3 whole eggs, until cooked. Then drain the liquid and pop in the freezer to cool quicker. Peel the eggs and slice finely. When the potatoes are cooled, add into a large serving bowl with mayonnaise to generously dress the potatoes, potato salad spice and parsley or chives. Mix well, then add chopped boiled egg and combine. Leave to cool in the fridge.
While potatoes are cooking, let’s do the Pilaf rice. In a hot pot add 4 tbs of olive oil and chopped onions when hot,then chopped half of red pepper, yellow pepper, green pepper and 3 tsp of spice for rice to add some colour. Mix well and then add rice. I’m going to need 6 cups of rice. When it’s lightly toasted, add water up to 3 quarters of the pot and add 2 tbs of salt. You can add more salt later if needed. Then cover and let cook. When cooked, drain all the excess water and season as necessary. Set aside in a warm place.
Then the pasta salad, boil twisted pasta(whole pack) until al dente- 5-10 min. Then cool quickly in the freezer. When cooked, add the pasta into a serving bowl with a handful of red pepper, yellow pepper and green pepper. Mix this with mayonnaise and leave to cool in the fridge.
Next is mixed pepper couscous. Thinly dice half a red, yellow and green pepper and an onion. In a hot pot, drizzle 4 tbs of olive oil and add onion when hot with the mixed peppers. When the onions are soft add in the couscous bit by bit while mixing in with the veggies( all 1 kg of it!).
When it’s lightly toasted add in the beef stock( I made a quick stock with 3 stock cubes and 60ml of boiling water) and mix. The trick is to add the stock slowly and also bit by bit to have fluffy and light couscous. Add the stock to bottom of the pot, not the top and mix the couscous in. It should be cooked in 10 minutes.
Last salad, apple green salad. Leave to make this at the very end, when you’re actually dishing up. And it is self explanatory, slice apples thinly and throw them in with salad greens, 2 parts olive oil, 1 part squeezed lemon juice, lemon zest and season with salt and pepper.
With everything cooked, the gammon resting and the salads ready. It’s time to serve.Fortunately by this time a few friends have arrived to help. I need a person per component of this meal, the proportions need to be balanced and the plate needs to look presentable by the end of the dishing up process. A Few hiccups but they didn’t do too badly, thanks friends.
Unfortunately there wasn’t a lot of time for pics, apologies. But from people’s compliments I think it turned out well. A lot of the guests were eating couscous and gammòn for the first time. I got a lot of marriage proposals by the end if the day from all the men that tried my couscous! My husband even claims its the best gammon he’s ever had. What more do I need? And it was all served on time 14hoo on the dot! Yay!
And everyone was fed and happy, judging by all the dancing after lunch. My cooked meal even extended beyond 50 and most of the men and the boys got a helping as well. Wheeeu!, now with all that done its time for me to relax and enjoy Christmas as well