Have yourself an unctuous mouthfeel Christmas
It’s beginning to look a lot like X-mas
Well people, it’s that time of year, lights are up around the city, shops are decorated beautifully, and Michael Buble has been awoken from the cave from whence he came.
Christmas means different things for different people, but for me it is about the food. Especially now that I’ve finished at Leiths, I now have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve ready for the best day of the year.
I’m gonna be talking you through a few things I have learned in the past few weeks that might give you a helping hand on the lead up to Christmas.
First thing is first, always, and I mean, ALWAYS be prepared. This is not just with food, but with everything, cards, decorations, presents, alcohol. You name it, I used to leave it till the last minute and get mega stressed. Seriously, start doing things like buying presents in November, buy 3/4s of them a month beforehand, then it gives you breathing space with money and a nice relaxed December to enjoy the build up.
Enough of that, let’s move on to food.
Again, prep prep prep, freeze freeze freeze. I’ve learnt that almost anything you make on Christmas Day can be made a few days beforehand and frozen.
My Christmas Day must haves:
Pigs in blankets
Roast potatoes (refer to my roast potato blog for recipe)
Insanely good gravy (refer to blog for recipe)
Maple glazed carrots
And I’m sure I’m missing a few key things (such as bread sauce) but hey, take it up with the judge. These are my must haves.
Turkey! Not a lot of people like it, but, it’s one of those things that people eat because they feel they ‘have to’ because it’s Christmas. I am definitely one of those people, my family love it… but me…. meeeh not so much. I would rather have a succulent piece of Sirloin Beef roast any day of the week, even if that day is December 25th.
Anyway a little trick I learned at school, before you put it in the oven, absolutely drench a j-cloth or two in melted butter or oil and lay it over the top of the bird. This will create the most beautiful crispy skin, which to be honest, will be the best thing about the meat in my humble opinion. For a little added flavour, use garlic oil or lay rosemary and thyme sprigs under the j-cloths to infuse whilst roasting.
Roast the bird for the appropriate time depending on the weight. Usually about 4-5 hours.
Brussel Sprouts are another Christmas day item that I feel get a bad rep. For years we ate boiled sprouts served straight to the table, which, understandably would make anyone greener than what we just ate, but there are some amazing recipes out there to fully utilise the humble sprout.
This year I will be going for the classic ‘shredded with pancetta and chestnut’, it’s easy, delicious, and christmassy! Simply shred the sprouts coarsely with a knife, brown off some pancetta then chuck in the shredded greens to the pan with a nice, and I mean nice, knob of butter. Season with nutmeg then gently toss through some roasted chestnuts for that extra ‘Unctuous Christmas mouthfeel.’
Another absolutely outstanding ingredient for Christmas Day is Salmon, smoked, cured, baked, steamed YOU name it! On Christmas Eve or even the 23rd, get a really nice big piece of salmon. In a bowl mix sugar, salt, a little vinegar, shredded beetroot, grated orange peel, then gently caress the mixture into then salmon and leave over night. The next day give the fish a scrape and a bit of a wash and use two forks to flake it. Serve on a piece of sourdough with a poached egg, then bask in the glory of what you have just created and served.
Maple glazed carrots
I always think vegetables on Christmas are a funny one, people like different things… until they’ve tried the best thing. And that best thing is maple glazed carrots. Forget the days of chopping a carrot and leaving it to boil in salted water, forget the days of even wacking them in an oven with a little oil.
Treat them like roast potatoes, par boil them for 5 minutes, then in a roasting tin melt some of the goose fat you already have in the fridge ready for your roast potatoes. Chuck in the carrots and coat them well, roast in a really hot oven for 20 minutes, take them out, sprinkle lightly with a little sea salt and drizzle with maple syrup. Put the tin back into a 180 degree oven and roast for a further 20 minutes, keep an eye on them and bring them out when they are golden brown and sizzling. Try this and thank me later.
If you like parsnips simply do them along side the carrots in the exact same process, same saucepan, same tin.
If you haven’t already passed out into a food coma by 5pm after eating copious amounts of unctuous vegetables, succulent meat and endless amounts of chocolates for your mouthfeel. You may feel like playing a game, and what better than cards against humanity. Look it up. Head into the living room, and leave your dignity by the door, it’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had on Christmas. Seriously, buy it.
When you’re done with that you may want to head back to the kitchen (not forgetting to pick up that big old pile of dignity you left at the door) and start on a pudding for the evening… and maybe a few cocktails. The night before you will have either made a Christmas cake, Christmas pudding, strudel, the list goes on. A fantastic recipe we came across at Leiths is Christmas cake ice cream, which to be honest, is what I could eat all day instead of anything else it’s that good.
Christmas cake ice cream
You will need, Christmas cake, Madeira, 6 egg yolks, 600ml double cream, 6tbsp caster sugar and a giant spoon.
In a pan, heat up the cream until it just begins to foam and steam. In a separate bowl whisk the yolks together with the sugar and pour in the hot cream. Give it a little mix then (into a clean pan) heat the mixture back up gently until it thickens.
At this point I should say having an ice cream maker would be fantastic, but if you don’t, nevermind, you just may have a little more ice crystals than you would like. This won’t make it any less delicious (especially at that time of the day while you are seeing double).
Crumble the Christmas cake into the custard mixture you have just made then pour in a generous glug of Madeira. Leave in the freezer to freeze (obviously) and take out every half an hour to bear vigorously, if you have a blender simply wack the mixture in there and blitz, then place back into the freezer.
Who doesn’t love a Christmas cocktail? No one, that’s the answer. You can make non alcoholic ones, even a lovely mulled orange juice (I will post the recipe soon) but for now let’s get boozy.
A fantastic cocktail from my uni days always seems to make an appearance on Christmas. Anyone reading this from uni will instantly reminisce the greatness of this drink.
You will need, archers, Bacardi, vodka, blue curaçao, orange juice and lemonade.
Simply mix together the 1 shot each of the spirits and the curaçao until you have a lovely dark blue colour, fill up the glass 3/4s of the way up with lemonade, then top off with orange juice. The fluorescent green colour may put you off at first but you’ll soon put that behind you after you taste it.
Prosecco, where do I start. Anyone who knows me will know that I BLOODY love the stuff! I could drink it like water (responsibly). And it makes some great cocktails, literally, just be inventive, orange peel and juice, lime and rosemary, blackberry and casis, passionfruit
and grape. Seriously, try anything out, make a juice/coulis with fresh fruit and sugar, place it in the bottom of your glass and top it up with the sparkling goodness.
I can assure you after a few of these you will be spreading cheer by singing louder than you probably should so all can hear.
I know these are only a few things but hopefully I’ve given you some fresh ideas of something different to try this Christmas. Christmas is always personal and everyone has their own traditions, feel free to comment below and let me know your traditions and you might just make it into my next blog!
I wish you all a very very
Thanks as always for reading