I do love sitting down with the family to a traditional Christmas feast. Whether you celebrate with dinner on Christmas Eve or lunch on Christmas Day, it’s the one time of year you get to spend time with your loved ones and share a wonderful, home-cooked meal together.
Whilst I don’t like messing with tradition, I know that this is not the case for everyone and for many of you who have long been sticking to the traditions of Christmas feasting and may be looking for subtle changes, this write up is for you! I am not trying to reinvent Christmas or preach that this is a more superior version of the traditional meal but if you want some subtle twists to the classic Christmas staples, then look no further than my humble suggestions right here.
Whether you like one suggestion or several or even if you decide to keep Christmas traditional, I can reassure you that you will be able to use these tips all year round substituting turkey for chicken and well, you can figure out the rest. Any time of year, there is something for everyone so don’t be afraid to give one or all of my tips a try.
Orange and Sumac Basted Free-range Bronze Turkey
Soften 250g salted butter, add the grated zest of 2-3 large unwaxed oranges, 3 heaped teaspoons of sumac, 2 teaspoons of garlic granules/powder, generous amount of fresh black pepper and mix well until evenly combined and then smear all over the turkey. Make sure the most generous coasting is on the breast area and then roast your turkey, as normal making sure you regularly baste it.
If you are looking for cooking guidelines, I found BBC Good Food Magazine’s online Turkey Guide with useful tips and cooking times to be incredible handy.
Sour Cherry and Pork Stuffing
Why stress when you can cheat? I love using ready-to-cook pork stuffings for my turkey. Rarely does the stuffing ever get shoved inside the actual turkey but instead, we just tray bake some shop bought, fresh pork sage and onion stuffing and Bob’s your Uncle! So my best advice is to choose your favourite pork stuffing mix and buy some dried sour cherries (or dried cranberries) and simply mix them well into the stuffing and roast per packet ingredients. A simple, yet delicious Persian twist on a classic stuffing, that still feels familiar but packs in a little fruity flavour.
Saffron Roasted Potatoes
Make your roast potatoes as you would normally but at the stage you would preheat fat in the oven, ground a couple of large pinches of saffron and mix with 2 tablespoons of boiling water from a kettle and allow to infuse for 5 minutes. Then combine the liquid with the oil/chosen fat you wish to use for roasting your potatoes and preheat the fat as normal in the oven. Once hot, add the potatoes, coating them all over in the saffron tinted fat and roast as normal.
Harissa Honey Sausages
Fry or roast your sausages as you would normally and once done, remove from heat, draining off the excess oil and set aside. Mix some harissa (I love using Belazu’s Rose Harissa available from all good supermarkets) with some clear honey (ratio approx. 4-1 honey to harissa) and stir until even then coat the hot sausages in the mixture and serve. Cocktail sticks help make these more manageable and perfect as canapés all year round.
Cumin and Garlic Roasted Parsnips
Preheat an oven to 200 degrees (fan assisted) and peel and cut your parsnips into similar sized chunks. Drizzle over some garlic oil, season well with salt and pepper and sprinkle generously with cumin seeds before using your hands to coat all the parsnips well with the mixture and roast for about 35-40 minutes or until the edges have browned nicely.
Ras el Hanout Brussel Sprouts
Wash and halve the Brussel sprouts and add a drizzle of oil into a preheated pan over a medium-high heat and add in the Brussel sprouts, a good teaspoon or more of Ras el Hanout per 500g of sprouts and a knob of butter and stir fry the sprouts for a few minutes. I like to add a handful of water to the pan and cover with a lid to encourage partial steaming as well as frying of the sprouts. Remove the lid and continue to fry until the edges brown a little but don’t burn and season with salt, mix well and serve.
Cranberry and Coriander Sauce
Although I made my cranberry sauce base from scratch, shop bought is also great and a time-saver too. Into an average jam-jar sized amount of cranberry sauce, dry toast 4 heaped teaspoons of whole coriander seeds and remove from heat, grind and set aside. In a small saucepan, heat up the cranberry sauce over a gentle heat and add the ground coriander and mix well. Personally I like to add 1 large finely chopped red chilli (seeds and all) to the sauce at this stage but that’s entirely up to you). Cook out the sauce mixture for about 20 minutes, turn off heat and allow to cool. Serve garnished with a few crushed coriander seeds.
Merry Christmas and enjoy your feast, whatever you choose to serve!