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Christmas Dinner Menu Planning: The Topic


ledervin
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What about a beef Wellington on Christmas? Thumbs up or down? Somewhere I seem to remember a thread about being able to pre-order a suckling pig from an establishment somewhere. Am I imagining it, or do they cook it for you too?

Goose sounds interesting, but I've never eaten before, let alone prepared it, so I'm completely in the dark when it comes to knowing what its meant to taste like. Could prove to be too much of a risk during what will inevitably be a stressful cooking experience even without the goose.

I do like the game pie idea. What about pheasant? Or a poultry dish (duck, pheasant) and a big poached salmon - is that too Easter? (Would I be able to get a pheasant big enough to feed four adults and two kids?

My head is spinning. So many choices and none of them seem right.

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What about a beef Wellington on Christmas? Thumbs up or down? Somewhere I seem to remember a thread about being able to pre-order a suckling pig from an establishment somewhere. Am I imagining it, or do they cook it for you too?

Goose sounds interesting, but I've never eaten before, let alone prepared it, so I'm completely in the dark when it comes to knowing what its meant to taste like. Could prove to be too much of a risk during what will inevitably be a stressful cooking experience even without the goose.

I do like the game pie idea. What about pheasant? Or a poultry dish (duck, pheasant) and a big poached salmon - is that too Easter? (Would I be able to get a pheasant  big enough to feed four adults and two kids?

My head is spinning. So many choices and none of them seem right.

Geese graze, so they taste quite a lot like beef (from cattle that have eaten grass that is), but also a little like wild duck or squab.

To be honest I think that it really doesn't matter as long as it is fun for everybody and it looks like a celebration - which it is, of you friends and family.

An expensive chicken or some pheasants is fine but, it is a little too normal for us, if you see what I mean.

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The advantage that goose has over turkey (apart from taste) is the fact that it's easier to cook. It is so easy to dry out a turkey, but goose (like duck), is very fatty and effectively self bastes as it roasts. If you like pheasant (which is much gamier), I feel pretty certain that you won't find goose in any way challenging and I think it actually lessens the risk on what can be a very stressful undertaking.

Good planning can help a lot on Christmas day. For instance, if you have a large number of people, that will mean a large number of roast potatoes. I parboil them the night before, dip each one in melted butter or goose fat to totally seal it and leave them on a tray, covered in the fridge until the next day. If my fridge is jammed, I put them outside in the barbeque with the lid closed down (my make do larder) as it is generally pretty cold outside. Sealing them with fat means that they don't go black and cuts out a lot of messing around on the day. I also have one of my veg dishes squared away in advance, either a puree or sliced celeriac in cream to be cooked in the oven (HFW has a great recipe with some chilli).

I have only cooked a few Christmas dinners so I'm only starting to get a feel for what works. One thing's for sure, cooking for 6 is so much easier than cooking for 12.

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Does it have to be fowl? (No pun intended)....

I rather like the idea of a hearty game roast - say venison or boar? Perhaps unorthodox, but definitely a pleaser... or even more unorthodox - seafood...

If it does have to be fowl - my vote is for goose. It's the most versatile and, IMO, the hardest to get wrong... (least likely to fail to please)

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

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Does it have to be fowl?  (No pun intended)....

I rather like the idea of a hearty game roast - say venison or boar?  Perhaps unorthodox, but definitely a pleaser...  or even more unorthodox - seafood...

If it does have to be fowl - my vote is for goose.  It's the most versatile and, IMO, the hardest to get wrong... (least likely to fail to please)

I cooked venison on Saturday night and immediately decided that I was going to cook it on Christmas day as well - beautiful Loin of venison available from Mid Devon Fallow at borough market, not a centre piece roast but it has the advantage of cooking in 10 - 15 minutes. £22/kg - 1 KG goes a fair way especially if you are serving another meat as well.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Along similar lines, and rather cruelly given the season, the Michelin website is advocating reindeer  :sad:

My Norwegian relatives often have reindeer at Christmas, and it has always been a tradition at my parents' house. Since Norwegian Christmas dinner takes place on Christmas Eve, this allowed me as a child to curdle the blood of my younger cousins by telling them they'd get no presents that year, since we'd eaten Rudolph :hmmm:

They'd generally pot-roast the reindeer. Great depth of flavour - as you imagine very lean, intensely flavoured meat.

Of all the traditional Norwegian Christmas options, I think this is far preferable to lutefisk...

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I agree about a good-sized goose doing 8 adults. It's so deliciously rich you don't need a lot. I have a series of recipes by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, from The Indepenmdent in Novemnber 1997, [which I have never tried], involving a single goose being made into the constituents of a single meal as follows:

goosey scratchings to serve with drinks;

giblet -stuffed goose neck with chutney;

confit of leg & wings with split pea purée;

roast goose with apple sauce & trimmings

I can scan & email these to anyone who sends me a PM

Edited by PoppySeedBagel (log)
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Just went to Lidl this morning, the goose advertised are frozen so I didnt buy any. Also they had packs of frozen crabs that smelt so suspect (even through its plastic wrap)that I beat a hasty retreat from the shop. There were quite a few people there complaining that food advertised as fresh was found frozen.

Edited by Mr Wozencroft (log)
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Thanks all for posting.

I looked at the geese at Lidl as well but thought better of it. I've decided on a bit of sirloin for a change and have ordered it today to ensure I get some well hanged meat (been promised at least some 4 week old stuff)

I've now just got to decide what to have with it.......

Definitely goose fat roasted spuds, vichy carrots and yorkshires.

Any other great ideas for accompaniments?

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Heres a Link to what Gordon Ramsay has to offer for Xmas, some nice ideas and suggestions.

What did anyone think of the free DVD from Saturdays paper? Unfortunately I didn't manage to get a copy...

Paul

I went into a French restaraunt and asked the waiter, 'Have you got frog's legs?' He said, 'Yes,' so I said, 'Well hop into the kitchen and get me a cheese sandwich.'

Tommy Cooper

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Hope this isn't on the wrong thread, but I'm having goose on 11 December for friends (trying to loosen the tyranny of parental Christmas three-line whip). I've done goose before and, though it's a fairly big deal to drain all the fat, I'm not worried about roasting it.

My question, though, is can anyone convince me that there is a stuffing that 'goes' with goose? I think any pork-based stuffing, or indeed breadcrumb-based forcemeat, far too rich. I once tried an apple/prune/onion combo with no binder, but I didn't think that worth the trouble. So at the moment I'm not stuffing the goose. Unless anyone has a good idea? Any help much appreciated, as I'm already going to be lynched by my friends for banning sprouts. I think there'd be a mass-defection if they find there's no stufing either.

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I'm already going to be lynched by my friends for banning sprouts.

Great. Stick to your guns, I banned the little blighters a few years ago! I've no real advice on the stuffing... except that my gut instinct is that a simple bread stuffing with onion and perhaps some apple through it might be good... and very simple too.

Edited by Corinna Dunne (log)
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Along similar lines, and rather cruelly given the season, the Michelin website is advocating reindeer  :sad:

What is cruel about reindeer for Christmas? (other than enduring the inevitable Rudolf jokes, of course.)

In Finland reindeer is a very popular food. It's like eating beef here.

Of course, I wonder about what foreign visitors tell their kids when they go to visit Santa in Rovaniemi and then spot reindeer on the menu. :raz:

Back to topic, however. What do you suggest we have for our first British Christmas? I just moved to Richmond in Surrey from Helsinki. There are just two of us, and I'd like to make it special. I haven't had time to get very familiar with my new kitchen yet (a lot of my stuff is still in boxes), let alone know where to shop. I also have a gas oven for the first time-I suspect there will be some adjustment.

The final challenge is that I live on top of a steep hill and have no car. (There are buses to the Tube.) There is a nice butcher around the corner, but all the traditional choices seem to feed an army. So I am thinking of a 16 century Spanish recipe for a pheasant stuffed with foie gras and marinated in port.

My Spanish-Venezuelan husband has to seafood for Christmas, but I haven't seen any kind of decent fishmonger in town except Waitrose. I have yet to try Waitrose, but are there people who can deliver things like percebes, live spider crabs, trustworthy oysters, etc to Richmond? Or is Waitrose good enough? I could go to Borough or central London for a special event, but do I have to place an order in advance?

Also, is there a way to make this menu more British? And where does one get good bread and plum pudding? (Or whatever pudding is appropriate.)

And finally, if I'm permitted to ask non-directly food-related questions, why is Boxing Day called that, and will there be a way for me to buy a live Christmas tree without a car? What do people eat on Boxing Day and Christmas Eve?

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And finally, if I'm permitted to ask non-directly food-related questions, why is Boxing Day called that

It is traditional in Britain for family members to put aside petty grievances and make an effort to get along for one day a year. By Boxing Day however it all becomes too much and the fighting resumes.

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And finally, if I'm permitted to ask non-directly food-related questions, why is Boxing Day called that, and will there be a way for me to buy a live Christmas tree without a car? What do people eat on Boxing Day and Christmas Eve?

Traditionally, on Boxing Day the tradesmen were given their Christmas "box" (gift). There is a reasonable description of some of the traditions here.

What do people eat on Boxing Day and Christmas Eve? I'm sure this varies quite a lot. In my parents house we often had a baked ham on Christmas Eve since this, combined with turkey left-overs, helps to reduce the amount and complexity of cooking for several days after Christmas.

Edited by JudyB (log)
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So, I am planning to host dinner for about 12 adults and two kids for Christmas. They are a pretty unadventurous crowd, and even with as simple as last year's menu was, it was the first time many of them had had several of the items. They liked everything, but I kept it pretty close to "down home" cooking.

Last year, I made a spiced pork tenderloin with assorted roasted veggies, such as fennel, parsnips, sweet potatoes. I also made a potato and roasted garlic gratin, a rice pilaf using just the rice part of this recipe, and a creamy corn pudding. I also made a cabbage strudel. For dessert, I made a chocolate mousse cake and a parsnip cake.

This year, I was thinking about something different for the main course. Duck, goose, veal, and lamb are too exotic for this crowd, so I was thinking about braising beef of some sort and serving it with creamy polenta. I don't have the All About Braising book from the braising thread, so I thought I would come here for recipe ideas. I would like soemthing saucy with largish chunks of meat, a touch sweet (or maybe just sweet spices, like cinnamon and allspice). I thought about something with dried fruit, like prunes. Anyway, I'm really at a loss and would love some suggestions.

Other things I was hoping to work into the menu - a creamy soup of some sort, a salad, a veggie or two, and maybe another starch. My mom wants me to make a fancy macaroni and cheese dish - maybe with blue cheese, but I'm unsure how it would pair with the braised beef and polenta. She also wants me to make popovers. So, maybe I need to rethink the braised beef thing, or go with a more savory beef instead of one with sweet spices.

I also need a dessert idea. I was thinking a pie and a cake, and maybe some eggnog ice cream, but beyond that, I have no ideas.

So this isn't really a fancy meal - more comforting and down home, but fancy enough for my relatives to be able to go home and talk about the new things they tried. Another problem is cost - I am on a tight budget, so a nice prime rib or soemthing along those lines is out.

Any ideas?

Edited by amccomb (log)
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If duck and goose are too exotic, you've got a problem. :biggrin:

Anyway, consider a standing rib roast of beef or bison accompanied with traditional Yorkshire pudding, green beans (casserole :hmmm: or with onion confit and mushrooms), and glazed carrots.

Or roast capon with wild rice and sweet potato puree

For dessert, do a yule log (buche de noel)---always a crowd pleaser (who doesn't like chocolate cake?) and much easier than it looks.

He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise. --- Henry David Thoreau
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