Can you be persuaded to be a little adventurous this Christmas, and try something a little different?
We’ve got nothing against the traditionally seasonal poultry. The sight of a magnificently oversized, perfectly cooked bird adorning the dinner table every December 25th is what we Brits do!
But we have to face facts. Turkey isn’t the most, well, how can I put it, “interesting” of fayre is it? It can be a little bland and, depending on the size of your chosen bird, it can take an eternity to cook, completely dominate all your precious oven space and still runs the risk of being undercooked at its core.
So, how about a break from tradition this December. Here’s 3 alternatives to consider that are simple, tasty, yet still special enough to command centre stage on your family table this Christmas.
If the thought of abandoning poultry all together is just a step too far too soon, then how about considering Poussin? (It sounds better than saying “Baby Chicken” to the kids I’m sure you’ll agree).
The natural advantage here is that everyone can have their own individual bird (making portion control so much easier to calculate), it takes under an hour to cook, and looks far superior in my humble opinion. Try stuffing them with your usual favourite Turkey-filler, place in a roasting tin, baste them with some melted butter, drape a couple of smoked bacon rashers over each bird and then season generously. Cook on Gas Mark 8 or 230c for about 45 minutes. Once cooked, let them rest for 5 minutes and use the juices in the tin to make your gravy. Serve with all your usual festive accompaniments.
Beef Fillet Joint
Considering the actual amount of accessible and edible meat you can take from the Turkey carcass, for a similar value for money (Once you’ve taken into account the cost in weight of bones on Poultry), you could look at a Beef Fillet Joint as an affordable red-meat alternative this year.
The most majestic and seasonally traditional way to serve this is “Wellington” style. With the quality of pre-rolled pastry as good as anything you could make from scratch, this is another dish that can be boxed off in comparatively little time.
There are hundreds of great recipes for this British classic online, but I like to add Prosciutto or indeed any type of cured-ham to the wrapping of the meat as well as the Mushroom Duxelles to add some more complexity and depth to the overall flavour. Again, all your usual accompaniments will go well with the beef. And try a creamy Madeira or a Mustard-based sauce to finish it off in style.
Finally, how about some “Game” for your festive feast? Venison packs a real punch when it comes to flavour and if roasted properly, will give you and your family a stunning and alternative main event this year. And if you’ve got cupboards full of the usual Christmas sundries such as red wine, port and some cheeky dark chocolate which somehow made its way into the festive shopping trolley, you’ve got the key ingredients to make one of the most original and amazing complements to Venison – Chocolate Sauce!
Imagine the kids delight when you tell them the main course has got Choccywoccydoodah in it! Use the liquor to deglaze the roasting pan once the meat is cooked, reduce by half, add some veal stock and then whisk in some butter and dark chocolate. Again, you’ll find plenty or recipes for this suggestion online.
So go on then! Dare to be different, dare to challenge the tedium of tradition, and you might just be the toast and talk of the table for the next 12 months.
Remember if you’d rather skip the stress of catering for the family for Christmas, English Lakes offers a range of Christmas Breaks with packages in the Lake District and North Lancashire. Our chefs always relish the challenge of creating a varied yet traditional Christmas Day menu.