Celebrating the holidays at home is all the more meaningful with ingredients sourced from local farmers, fishermen and beekeepers.
Classic Roast Turkey
Local farmer Tom Wadson pasture-raises his turkeys at his farm in Southampton and harvests them in time for Christmas. A 10-pounder should feed eight normal appetites. Two smaller birds are better than one huge bird if you’re planning to feed more than 10 people. Why? You get a better balance of light and dark meat—four drumsticks to fight over. Besides, it will look pretty impressive when you bring them to the table. Always opt for more than you need; those leftover turkey sandwiches with cranberry relish or mayonnaise are heaven.
Bermuda Fish Chowder
As bouillabaisse is to the French and minestrone is to the Italians, every fish chowder-maker in Bermuda insists his or her recipe is the most authentic. A true “chowderhead” will tell you the best fish chowder is made with grouper heads. Boil them up and pick off all the meat. The head also provides gelatin that helps to thicken the soup.
4 quarts water
6 rockfish heads (or 3 lbs fillets)
2 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb onions, chopped
½ lb peppers, small dice
½ lb carrots, small dice
1 lb potatoes, small dice
1 lb leeks, washed, chopped fine
6 ribs celery, chopped
4-oz tin tomato paste
19-oz tin whole tomatoes, seeded, chopped
Ground white pepper to taste
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp tarragon
2 tsp curry
2 tsp thyme
Salt to taste
2 tsp marjoram
2 tsp oregano
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 bay leaves
¼ cup Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
¼ cup Outerbridge’s Sherry Peppers
Boil rockfish heads in lightly salted water until fully cooked. Remove the heads, set aside to cool. Strain the remaining stock through a fine sieve and set aside.
Remove the meat from the bones while still warm. Set aside. Finely chop the vegetables and sauté in vegetable oil until the onions are translucent. Add the tomato paste and sweat for another 3 minutes. Add the fish stock, fish meat, herbs, spices and chopped tomatoes. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for at least two hours. While the chowder is simmering, continually remove any scum or impurities that rise to the surface and break up any large pieces of fish that remain. Season with salt, pepper, rum and sherry peppers.
Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and Outerbridge’s Sherry Peppers should be served on the side so that this dish can be enjoyed to the fullest.
A Traditional Cassava Pie
As we know, cassava pie is essential to a Bermudian Christmas. To the uninitiated, cassava pie is an odd mix of sweet and savory cake with a layer of meat on the inside. Families usually make a large quantity of cassava for Christmas and eat it hot or cold and some even save a few slices for Easter Sunday.
5 lbs Bermuda cassava, available frozen from Wadson’s Farm
3 lbs cooked chicken, skin removed (half thighs, half breasts)
1 small pork tenderloin
3/4 lb butter, room temperature
6 eggs, beaten, available from Windybank Farm
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
3/4 cups white sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
2 large and 1 small nutmeg, grated
Place chicken, vegetables and herbs in a large pot and cover with stock. Simmer until chicken is falling off the bone. Once cooked, cool and debone chicken and cut into bite-sized pieces. In the same broth, simmer the pork for 15 to 20 minutes until no longer pink. Cool pork and cut into bite-sized pieces. Strain broth and chill.
Cream butter, sugars and spices until mixture is fluffy. Incorporate beaten eggs into butter, sugar and spice mixture until well blended. In a very large bowl, combine cassava and butter mixture and mix well using hands.
Line the bottom of a 12-in x 16-in pan with half of the cassava mixture, making sure to cover the sides of the pan as well. Cover the cassava mixture in an even layer of chicken and pork. Ladle warm reserved stock onto the meat to moisten. Cover the meat with remaining cassava mixture. With the tines of a fork, make a pattern in the top of the mixture. Don’t be afraid to get creative!
Bake pie at 325 degrees for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Baste with broth if necessary.
Chestnut Stuffing with Bermuda Herbs
Not only does this recipe for chestnut stuffing include Gosling’s Black Seal Rum it also incorporates fresh locally grown herbs like thyme, sage and parsley.
1 lb peeled chestnuts*
1 cup onion, minced
½ cup celery tops, minced
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
8 cups bread cubes (packaged is okay)
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp or more freshly rubbed sage
Generous pinch of nutmeg
Small bunch of parsley, minced
½ cup raisins, plumped in ¼ cup Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
2 medium apples, peeled, chopped
1 tbsp salt (or to taste)
1 ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
Place the peeled chestnuts in a pan of water, along with half a small onion and a little sugar and salt. Bring to a boil and simmer 35 minutes until tender. Drain, cool and chop. Sauté the onions in butter until translucent. Add the celery tops and cook another couple of minutes. Add the bread cubes one cup at a time, stirring well with each addition. Allow the cubes to sauté until golden. Transfer to a large earthenware bowl. Add thyme, sage, nutmeg, parsley, raisins, Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, apples, chestnuts, and salt and pepper and mix with your hands. Allow to cool completely. Stuffing may be prepared ahead. Do not stuff bird until just before it goes into the oven.
*To successfully peel a chestnut, make an “x” on the shell with a sharp knife and either plunge into boiling water for about 2 minutes, drain and cool, or roast them in the oven (400 degrees or over an open fire) until they split open. Peel away the hard shell and inner shell and proceed.
Brown Butter Honey-Glazed Carrots
Bermuda’s embargo on fresh and treated carrots means that come Christmas time everyone on-island looks forward to the winter carrot harvest, and most Bermudians happily include fresh carrots in their holiday lunch or dinner.
1 1/4 lbs local carrots
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp Bermuda honey
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
Chopped parsley for serving
Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the carrots on top and set aside. Heat the butter in a small stainless-steel saucepan over low heat. A stainless-steel pan allows you to monitor the colour better than a coloured nonstick saucepan. Allow the butter to brown while whisking constantly. You’ll notice it will start to foam but keep going. This will take anywhere from 5–14 minutes total. Better-quality butter has less water which means it will brown more quickly. Remove the saucepan from the stove when the butter smells like hazelnuts and has a similar colour. Add the honey, garlic powder, salt, pepper and thyme to the butter and stir until the honey blends with the brown butter. Drizzle over carrots using a rubber spatula and toss to coat. Bake the carrots for 25–40 minutes. Check the carrots and flip at around the 12–15 minute mark. The carrots are done when fork tender. Top with chopped parsley and serve warm.
Green Beans with Lemon Butter
Like carrots, local green beans are in season come December and these salty and citrusy steamed beans are a great addition to a holiday table.
1 tbsp coarse salt, plus more for seasoning
1 pint local green beans, stem ends trimmed
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
Freshly ground pepper
Fill a medium (3-quart) saucepan three-quarters full of cold water. Set over high heat and bring to a boil. Add salt and beans. Cook until water returns to a boil and beans are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and drain. Immediately return beans to saucepan. Add butter and zest and toss. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve warm.
Christmas Pudding with Traditional Black Seal Hard Sauce
It could be argued that Christmas pudding is an old-fashioned dessert, but with a Gosling’s Black Seal hard sauce and flambé, it’s impossible to resist!
2 9-oz boxes of raisins
½ cup currants
½ lb mixed fruit peel, cut in pieces
¾ lb fresh breadcrumbs
¾ lb suet, finely chopped
8 eggs, beaten
6 oz (at least) of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
Additional Black Seal Rum to flambé
In a large earthenware bowl, mix together everything except the eggs and Black Seal Rum. Moisten the mixture with the eggs and then enough Black Seal Rum so it will hold a shape. Press the pudding-to-be in a buttered pudding mould or basin, filling it full. Tie it tightly with a floured double layer of cheesecloth. (Shaping it into a “cannon ball” and steaming in a swaddling of cheesecloth takes the same amount of time as in a mould.) Boil (steam) for 5–6 hours. Unwrap, turn out and serve steaming hot, with a sprig of holly stuck in the centre. Set alight by pouring flaming Gosling’s Black Seal Rum over the top. Once the flames subside, slice into portions and serve with rum hard sauce alongside.
Black Rum Hard Sauce
½ lb unsalted butter
3 heaping tbsp sugar
Pinch of salt
3–4 tbsp Gosling’s Black Seal Rum
Melt the butter and sugar together and add the rum, stirring until the sugar has dissolved completely and the sauce has begun to thicken. Allow to cool to hardness.