Uh-oh. Forgot to place an order for your Christmas turkey? With all the busy work of present buying and hiding, keeping track of last mailing dates for gift and card sending and most likely fighting over who should host Christmas this festive season, it’s easy to do.
Last year, it’s estimated that over 10 million turkeys were consumed in the UK on Christmas day. With demand that high, many stores need to impose a deadline on orders and if this slips your mind, you may find yourself unlucky.
Worry not! Turkey wasn’t always traditional, so turn your fortune around and consider rustling up one of these appetising alternatives for your festive family feast.
"Goose was actually traditional to have on Christmas Day before turkey, and with people rediscovering their heritage and customs, it’s becoming popular once again."
An ultra tasty alternative but remember that duck is best if it’s rested for at least 15 minutes after cooking – if you can bring yourself to wait that long. Duck fat will give you the most deliciously crisp roast potatoes too, so consider surrounding your bird in roasties. Jamie Oliver does a delicious festive duck recipe, including a spicy version, if you want to add a bit of a kick to your Christmas fare.
Before Turkey, this bird was actually traditional to have on Christmas Day. With the growing trend for rediscovering British heritage and customs, it’s making a popular comeback. Goose is also easier to cook than turkey as its higher fat content makes it less likely to dry out. This also means you often feel more satisfied with smaller portions, leaving all the more room for desert. Why not try Gordon Ramsey’s recipe?
Roast chicken is everyone’s go-to all the year round so if you go for chicken, consider trying a different kind of stuffing than you usually opt for to make things a bit more special. Pistachio and cranberry can give things a festive zing, as does a combination of maple syrup and macadamia. Search online for alternative stuffing flavour combinations to open up a world of ideas. If you really get the cooking bug, putting aside any leftover bones to boil down for a rich stock solves one less problem for Boxing Day too. Add some roasted vegetables, salt and pepper and you’ll have a warming soup too.
Many people believe that this was a favourite dish of the Duke of Wellington, defeater of Napoleon, namesake of the Wellington boot and twice British Prime Minister. In all likelihood it is more likely to have simply been a dish of the time, when pastry was used to help keep meat moist several hundred years ago and aga ovens were in favour. Whatever the story, Beef Wellington is an easy crowd pleaser if a little fiddly for a first timer. It’s easy to replicate as a vegetarian option as a great option for your Christmas meal. Scroll down for a vegetarian option if you’re feeling particular health-conscious or experimental.
If you have vegetarians on the guest list, fancy something different or are looking to cut costs, this is a great choice. Chestnut mushrooms are great, but many mushroom varieties are a perfect meat substitute, providing that earthy, satisfying flavour, that’s sure to see everyone piping up for seconds. Here’s a great Mushroom Wellington recipe from Jamie to help.
This pink presence on a table has the double benefit of lending your feast a sense of occasion and is a suitably dramatic centrepiece for any festive table. Fish cooked on the bone is much more flavoursome and what better time to spoil yourself and your loved ones but Christmas. If oven space is a problem, halving the salmon and reassembling after cooking, perhaps using herbs to disguise the join if necessary, could be a solution. Delia Smith does Christmas best and her whole fresh salmon with green herb mayonnaise will keep your festive fish on fine form.
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