The wreck of Christmas parties past

From December 7 to December 27, we spent just 4 nights at home. The rest of the time, we were either going to a party or throwing a party or cooking something to take to a party or sleeping off a party or washing clothes to attend another party. On the 20th nearly-consecutive night of parties, we attended a “festive casual supper” of 42 people, all relatives of ours, stretching to second cousins once removed and ex-step-aunt-in-laws.

    One efficient party-giving gesture is cooking big pieces of meat. For one party, we semi-smoked a turkey (more on that below). For another, we made gumbo from the turkey. For another, we made our own homemade honey-baked ham. And finally, the beef roast, but that’s a story for another day.

Semi-smoked turkey was a huge success. We roasted a 12-pound turkey for about 3 hours, so it wasn’t yet done, but approaching it. We fired up the smoker and stoked it with mesquite, then put the turkey in a roasting pan and into the smoker for an hour. When it registered 150 degrees, we called it “done,” tented it in foil for a while, then  rushed it to the cutting board. It had  just the right amount of smoke flavor and was perfectly moist. And truly, I did not hing but oil and salt the skin, then put it in the oven, then transfer it to the smoker. People were arriving in minutes, so we didn’t shoot a photo.

    • You may be one of those people, like me, who love flavor pyrotechnics, so here’s one we conjured around the party table. A hunk of semi-smoked turkey, a swipe of wasabi mayo, a single

zinfandel-simmered cranberry

     and a chunk of pickled watermelon rind. Searing hot, sweet, firm, chewy, tender. Da-yum. Took a photo of it, but accidentally deleted it.

(Just an aside on the smoker itself: my brother bought it from a guy who sells them from the empty lot near the 12th Avenue branch library in Nashville on Saturdays in good weather. The guy is a welder from Mt. Juliet. He converts discarded water heaters into smokers just the right size for civilian use.)

    • It’s not every day that someone tosses their best easy recipe your way.  The

home-baked honey ham

     was one of these. My mother-in-law makes a refined-tasting ham for holiday breakfasts, and just rattled off the formula one afternoon. Buy a canned ham or a semi-boneless ham. It should say fully cooked, or ready to at, which you wouldn’t do under normal circumstances. Wipe off or rinse the ham, dry it a little so the honey will stick, then coat it with honey. Wrap it in two layers of foil and seal it well. Bake it in a roasting pan at about 300 degrees for 3 hours. Cool and slice. Two steps, great ham.

If I’d shot just three photos per party, that would have been 48 pictures. Besides the professionally shot photos of party number two, I only have two to offer. This is Spicy Nut Mix from recipezaar. Despite the name, it’s not especially spicy, and it’s a nice offering for the noneaters of sweets.