The Un-Christmas Day Feast
Prelude: I am a proud Canadian. When the Culinary Historians of Canada (CHC) invited food bloggers to participate in the “CHC Canada 150 Food Blog Challenge”, I knew that I wanted in! What a great way to celebrate and honour Canada’s 150th birthday by featuring a different Canadian dish or discussing a topic which reflects on what it means to be Canadian. For December, the Culinary Historians are challenging bloggers to bring their best holiday game, with the most festive and delightful food tales about winter holidays past. I have a story about the origination of our family tradition, called Un-Christmas Day. As well, I will describe why the tradition was created and the special activity that always took place at the end of the day. Of course, food was involved, which is why I will be sharing a menu featuring a recipe for Dry Roasted Crispy Chicken Wings with Honey Garlic Dip. If you choose to embrace this holiday season finale, I think both you and your family will create some great memories.
I need to explain why “Un-Christmas Day” became a tradition. When my daughters were small, my husband and I wanted to make the Holiday Season as exciting and meaningful as possible, since you are only a kid once!
For example, there was a “Christmas Bird Tree” celebration with the neighbourhood children. This entailed making peanut butter coated pine cones dipped into bird seed, suet treats, popcorn garlands, filling coconut half shells and feeders with bird seed & nuts and then hanging them on a tree in the front yard. Prior to the all of the children returning home, a group photograph was taken in front of the tree. The children then settled inside by the front window with some hot chocolate and baked goods while watching the playful chickadees enjoy their feast.
We also adopted a well-known Mexican tradition by making our own piñatas. On Christmas Day, all the family took turns whacking the colourful piñata. To the delight of both young and old, a mad scramble ensued when the candy and little gifts fell to the floor. Every year, we created a different pinata and called them crazy names like Christmasauras (dinosaur); Jim-Bob (pig), etc.
Lastly, there was always a gingerbread house that was constructed and decorated with great care by little hands in the days running up to Christmas. There were lots of enthusiastic smashers when the time came for gingerbread ‘demolition day’ during the holidays. Boisterous laughter and delighted squeals were heard as each piece of the gingerbread house was broken off, shared and nibbled upon at the smash party.
Once all these activities had been completed, there was what one can only describe as a massive letdown – not to mention sad little faces. In order to keep the buzz for at least one more day (and get all of the decorations put away), we came up with the idea of “Un-Christmas Day.”
An incentive was required, so we decided ahead of time that one Christmas gift would be reserved for this particular occasion (the latest Disney Movie was always a favourite). This event usually started with a craft (a special hat or apron), and of course, a selection of Christmas music playing in the background, with the family involved in the now not-so-sad chore of un-decorating and storing of all the Christmas paraphernalia. The afternoon ended with hot chocolate, the gift, and a feast intended to be eaten in front of the movie screen. Un-Christmas Day became a part of our family traditions for many years. We still enjoy a fun feast after our Un-Christmas Day duties are complete with one of our favourites being Dry Roasted Crispy Chicken Wings with Honey Garlic Dip (recipe follows). I hope this story has inspired you to create your own personal approach to letting the Holiday spirit linger just a little bit longer. Joyeaux Noel!
The Feast of Un-Christmas Day Menu
Dry Roasted Crispy Chicken Wings with Honey Garlic Dip (recipe follows)
Vegetable Crudités with Ranch Dressing
Hot Chocolate with many mini marshmallows and a candy cane stir stick
Dry Roasted Crispy Chicken Wings with Honey Garlic Dip
CHEF TALK: I tasted these delicious crispy chicken wings for the first time at a Block Party. Try them – you will be saying the same thing. This recipe is gluten free and dairy free. The cooking method I prefer for these wings is oven roasting rather than deep-frying. The thin rice flour coating creates a surprisingly crispy crust with a moist and a flavourful inside.
CHEF TIP: Since rice flour coating does not turn golden brown, the use of paprika in the spice mixture assists in the browning process.
Dry Roasted Crispy Chicken Wings with Honey Garlic Dip
Yield: 4 – 6 servings – allow ½ lb (225 g) of chicken wings per person (about 32 pieces of chicken in total or about 8 pieces per person)
For the Wings:
- 2 lbs (approximately 1 kg) chicken wings
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
- 1 cup rice flour (stone ground)
Additional spices (optional but recommended)
- pinch cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika (see Chef Tip above)
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Separate the chicken wings into two pieces but cutting through the joints: drumettes and flatter portion. Wing tips should be removed, reserved and frozen for use later in chicken stock. Place in a medium to large size bowl.
- Season the wing pieces with salt and pepper and the optional spices, if desired. Toss well to combine the spices. Refrigerate for several hours, tossing every now and then.
- Place the rice flour in a shallow bowl. Dredge the chicken wing pieces in rice flour and shake off the excess flour.
- Place on parchment-lined rimmed baking sheets. Bake at 375oF (350oF Convection) for 40 to 50 minutes until golden, turning once or twice during the roasting process. CHEF TIP: To ensure even roasting times, separate the drumettes on one baking sheet and the flatter wing pieces on another baking sheet (these will cook more quickly than the drumettes).
- Check internal temperature of the wings for doneness. The wings should register 165oF/74oC when done.
For the Honey Garlic Dip:
- ½ cup honey (155 g/4 oz.)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper, optional
- Place the dip ingredients in a small pot and heat until honey is hot and the garlic is softened. Place the warmed honey garlic dip in a ramekin and serve alongside the chicken wings. Dip and enjoy! Serve with vegetable crudités.
Following is your visual step-by-step Dry Roasted Crispy Chicken Wings procedure:
Other Un-Christmas Day Menu Items you might Enjoy: