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All you need for Christmas dinner (is gravy)

Sun, 19 December, 2021

Have you dressed the tree? Procured the presents and wrapped them? Strung lights around the porch/fence/window/the wonky shrub in the front garden? Delivered cards to neighbours? Done today’s lateral flow test (yes, it looks like this is going to be on our to-do list forever)? Good – now on to the essential stuff: Christmas dinner.

I ticked off all the baking in previous What To Cook posts, apart from perhaps the buche de Noel or pavlovas for Christmas Day desserts, so now for the meal itself.

Whatever you’re going to have, be it whole brined turkey or a stuffed rolled breast, a roast duck, beef or apple cider braised gammon, I have an excellent instruction how to cook it. If it is a cosy, small scale meal for two or four of you, you can roast a brace of partridges or pheasants, or you can prepare the indulgent, exquisite fillet of beef stuffed with porcini mushrooms.

But whatever the main roast, you’ll need gravy. Gravy is the panacea for overcooked turkey, skinny duck or overpriced goose – you must have gravy! And here’s my failproof recipe for make ahead - finish on Chrimbo Day, finest gravy.

Whatever your roast, you’re going to have some offcut: giblets, wing tips, bone etc. Fry it in a small frying pan with a drop of oil, ignoring if it catches or threatens to burn. When it (whatever it is) is seared, remove it and sprinkle a tablespoon of flour over the fat in the pan.

Toast it for a few seconds, then slowly pour in half a litre of neutral stock or cooking liquor from vegetables or potatoes. Keep whisking and cook it down a little, so it’s thicker than how you like your gravy. Add a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly, a large pinch of salt and a pinch of mustard powder. By then it will taste like nothing special.

On the day add the roasting juices from the roasting dish (skim the fat if there’s too much) and the resting juices. It will blow your mind!

For vegetarian gravy, swap the giblets for a couple of fresh mushrooms. Soak some dried ones in boiling water and use it to flavour the gravy instead of roasting juices. That will be rather great too.

And now for the side dishes – roast potatoes and roast root vegetables are a must, and I usually do sprouts two ways or festive red cabbage, cooked very quickly.

Cranberry sauce, and last but never least: stuffing. Cook it separately, in a small tin or two, whether you make the chestnut and mushroom or apricot and fig stuffing.

The Caribbean black cake is much better than pudding for dessert, especially when served with a scoop of ice cream. Unless you prefer mini pavlovas with passion fruit, pomegranate or raspberries? And I’ll absolve you from cutting corners and using shop-bought meringue nests if that’s your decision.

And that’s all, folks, for this Chrimbo! Have a good, healthy and tasty one! Merry Christmas!

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About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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