Last Updated on December 2, 2019
Christmas Made Easy with Donald Russell Butchers.
Perhaps a butcher isn’t where you’d expect to start if you are looking for an easy, flexitarian style Christmas lunch. We’ve reviewed Donald Russell turkey options in the past and love the convenience of their Christmas in a Box. But, if your family, like mine, has a mixed bag of dietary requirements, you might be despairing at this point in the year. Fear not. While it might sound counter-intuitive you CAN still buy your Christmas lunch ready to cook from Donald Russell – whether you are catering for omnivores, pescatarians or even vegetarians. And, that includes all your Christmas vegetables too.
I set myself the challenge of cooking a Christmas meal using just Donald Russell food for the main course and dessert. One pescatarian in the group and several others trying to limit their meat intake meant that turkey wasn’t an option. Although we didn’t have a veggie in the group, we did ask for a vegetarian option too, just so we could see how well it worked. Our aim was to create a real splash with the meal as no one wants a sad Christmas spread. And, we were all delighted with the results.
Everything arrived frozen, in a large green box carefully wrapped up with biodegradable wool and ice packs. At this stage, there was nothing more to do than find space in the freezer for the packs.
Some of the Donald Russell food is cooked from frozen while other dishes need to thaw out for 12 hours or so and it’s worth taking note as you unpack to make life easier later down the line. But, that apart, there’s very little planning required and the only prep involves opening packets!
Our menu from Donald Russell comprised
- Stuffed boned partridge
- Salmon en croute
- Mushroom risotto
- Red Cabbage
- Brussel Sprouts with bacon
- Potatoes in goose fat
- Honey roast parsnip
with a champagne cream sauce and a meat jus gravy (well, I needed something to do!)
And with Anton Mosimann’s Christmas Pudding to follow.
Quite a feast, I’m sure you’ll agree. The vegetables were two packs of the Christmas Vegetable selection – and if I’d been catering for a vegetarian I’d probably have ordered one pack of these and an alternative selection as both the sprouts and potatoes were not veggie (though rather delicious!)
Stuffed boned partridge come in packs of 2 or 4 and make an excellent alternative for a small household to turkey – there is also pheasant prepared in the same way. I particularly enjoyed my portion – the meat was tender and not at all dry, thanks to the generous bacon wrapping and the delicious pork and apricot stuffing. What’s more, I think they looked every bit as festive as a Turkey – and took just 40 minutes to cook.
Donald Russell sells a range of frozen fish products – our Salmon en Croute was designed to serve 4-6 and, like everything on the table except a few sprouts, vanished completely! The Salmon en Croute cooks from frozen in 40 minutes or so so is perfect to keep in the freezer to serve to any peskytarian that might turn up unexpectedly. It’s delicious in its own right, with a crisp flaky pastry shell and delicate lemon rice stuffing to complement the fish.
I was pleasantly surprised by the vegetables. Normally I spend a happy couple of hours preparing Christmas veg – braising red cabbage for an eternity, cutting a crucifix on the bottom of the sprouts as a prayer that people will eat them this year and peeling every root vegetable in the universe.
This time I put the parsnips and potatoes in the oven but ran out of space and had to resort to the microwave for the sprouts and cabbage. I don’t think anyone could tell the difference – and the only complaint from the table was that we’d have liked more potatoes.
We all tried the risotto, which got mixed feedback. It would probably have looked better with a fresh herb garnish and a dollop of cream. As it was, the group divided around 50/50 into those who loved this savoury rice pudding and those who found it a bit bland.
That might just have been a result of what else was being consumed. As counter-intuitive as it may sound, I’d love to see a proper ‘celebratory’ veggie dish on the menu at Donald Russell – perhaps a mushroom wellington for example.
The Christmas pudding was fabulous – lighter than the traditional version that my mother used to make and the perfect size for 8 guests (there was just enough left over for a breakfast treat the next day). If I’d been feeling a little more up-to-speed I’d have made brandy butter and topped the pud with a sprig of holly, but as it was, no one complained about the topping of thick Jersey cream.
My guests left with every one of them considering how they could make their own Christmas day run more smoothly using the Donald Russell selections. In particular, I keep looking at the stuffed partridges and debating buying more. Apart from Christmas Day itself, I’m planning another Christmas with my family in Scotland this year, sometime in January so I might just give in to convenience!
So why not take a break this year and may your Christmas easy with Donald Russell. You’ll find all you need on their website
Meanwhile, here are a few of my favourite Christmas recipes
For Italian style Christmas Canapes
A festive turkey lunch for one or two
Super simple Christmas Yule Log
Advocaat and Mincemeat Ice-Cream
White Chocolate and Vanilla Fudge
A classic Advocaat Snowball
Delicious Rhubarb and Custard Cocktail