Christmas baking this year is an excellent way to keep warm in the house. In between drinks with neighbours, because we can’t get anywhere further afield due to snow, I’ve made scores of gingerbreads and mince pies. But now the big day itself is coming so it’s time for a fistful of advice re: Christmas dinner itself, with plenty of leftovers of course.
The roast might not have to be the traditional brined turkey, what with their eye-watering prices because of bird flu. Roast rib of beef could be a better option or, unconventionally, braised pork shoulder which additionally has a more attractive price tag. You could make porchetta, Italian style pork roast, also with a less expensive cut unless of course you go for the whole piglet, the traditionally Italian way.
As pork does not naturally produce gravy, and gravy is a must, cook a stock from all the meat offcuts and/or bones. Make sure you prepare it well in advance as it will need to cool in the fridge, for the layer of fat to be removed. Cook that stock down now, to reduce and concentrate the flavour. Make slurry from a tablespoon of flour and some water and add to the stock, together with a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly, a large pinch of salt and a pinch of mustard powder. Season to taste and on Christmas Day add the resting juices from the roast, if there are any. Gravy sorted!
But the roast and even the gravy is secondary to roast potatoes. If there are plenty of super-crispy spuds, it matters not what meat lands on everyone’s plates. You could try smashed roasties this year, or maybe hasselback potatoes if you can be bothered? Or baked sweet potatoes with tahini butter? That’s a revolutionary idea!
Let’s not forget veggie options. You could consider my celeriac Wellington, or indeed the whole roasted celeriac in salt crust. Otherwise, there’s potato babka: an excellent vegetarian loaf.
For sides, consider red festive cabbage perhaps, daringly, instead of sprouts? It might be a hit. For stuffing I recommend my pork and chestnut recipe. And instead of cranberry sauce try cranberry butter.
Dessert at mine will be bûche de Noël unless I succumb to demands for cherry cream dacquoise (I might! it’s actually easier to make than bûche, without the rolling of the sponge and worrying it’ll crack, then realising it’s supposed to have a cracked appearance).
You can find more ideas in my content pages and I hope they’ll be helpful. Don’t stress, enlist everyone’s help to make sure you have a wonderful Day too! Happy Christmas to you all!