The Meery Christmas Calendar’s ninth day is going to make you hungry!
The Christmas Dinner is one of Christmas Day’s great traditions, and a lot of planning goes into executing a wonderful occasion. Everyone’s idea of this is a little different, but there some elements that filter across virtually every Christmas-celebrating UK household, and I would like to take you through some of my personal highlights.
The marque event is usually a turkey, but whilst I don’t object to turkey, it can be a little dry, and so I have tended to turn to other centrepieces. A joint of roast lamb, or roast beef, or perhaps a three or four-bird roast, has become something of a staple in my home. As the only carnivore (yes, I know, meerkats aren’t supposed to be carnivores), I can pretty much choose what I want. Lamb cooked right is mouth-watering, and in fact, I can feel the saliva building as I write this. Beef can also be delectable. A multi-bird roast is quite unique, usually featuring a Russian-doll approach, with layers of chicken, turkey, duck, and perhaps goose. There is often a clump of stuffing in the centre.
These multi-bird roasts can be quite nice, but different birds have different cooking times, and also the whole thing tends to fall apart, as it is not one big, um, entity. As such, they are among the messier meats to prepare.
Accompanying the meat is the humble-yet-epic roast potato, which if done right, can sing almost as loud as the main event. My parents would coat the Christmas spuds with goose fat, which in a house of vegetarians is not an option, but there are plenty of alternative options to produce a crispy, golden, fluffy roast potato. Combined with lashings of gravy and a generous dashing of mint sauce, the roast potatoes take their own special place on the plate.
Another rather traditional dish are the pigs in blankets. These are small sausages, wrapped in bacon. I absolutely love these. They are so simple, yet so good. The concept has been taken further over the years, with cheese in blankets (literally cheese wrapped in bacon, which is not as nice as I thought it would be). Pigs in blankets are a must in my house.
Up next is the stuffing. Stop sniggering. Stuffing usually entails a mixture of sage, onion, butter, an egg, breadcrumbs, and garlic, which is mixed up then baked in the oven. This is a lovely little addition to the plate, so often underrated, yet so nice.
Whilst vegetables may not get much glory, they can be special in their own way. Carrots, cut lengthways, well-cooked, and perhaps buttered, go down a treat with Christmas Dinner, but it’s the brussel sprouts that tend to take centre-stage where the veg is concerned. I like them to be just a little bit soft, and if I had my way, they’d be drizzled with bacon bits, but that’s not happening in my house.
From the main course, to dessert. I wrote of Christmas Pudding a few days ago, but there’s also mince pies (somewhat confusingly, these sweet-pastry pies use a fruity mixture referred to as mincemeat, despite not being meaty at all), Christmas Cake (which is ultimately just a dried pudding with icing all over it), and Yule Logs, which are essentially chocolate swiss rolls, designed to look like firewood. Lashings of thick cream usually accompany most of the desserts in our house.
So, there you have something of a rundown of a semi-typical Christmas Day Dinner in the UK!