Planning for Christmas Day:
Making Christmas Lunch easy for me is all about getting a sense of realism. I love celebratory meals and all the tradition of Christmas. But, I’ve come to accept that when all my family are around I actually want to spend time with them. So, forgive me, in my heart I’d love to have made a Christmas Cake, a Christmas Pudding, mince pies, stollen, cranberry jelly and brandy butter. But, I realised earlier this month that I still had half a jar of mincemeat left over from last year AND the brandy butter in the fridge…So THIS year I’m doing things the easy way!
Yes, of course, I am still making things. There are some dishes that for me simply are not the same if they are shop bought. AND I have a fabulous box of Christmas fruit and vegetables from Abel and Cole. But I’m cutting right back and where I think it doesn’t matter, using ready-made sauces and just perhaps perking them up with a few fresh herbs, wine or spices (for example I’ll add red wine, juniper and rosemary to the Baxters cranberry jelly)
Here’s what we’re having:-
Main meal –
- Crown of Turkey with sage and lemon stuffing. I’ve bought a crown from Abel and Cole because I know there are only four of us and I really don’t fancy eating turkey for the rest of the year. My favourite game supplier has vanished and so the venison we’ve had for the last few years is off the menu. And, when I’ve bought goose in the past, I’ve had to spend the next few months trying to clean the oven. I make the stuffing because it’s quite easy to do and I begrudge the cost of the ‘fresh’ versions that you can buy in the supermarket for something that is essential stale bread and herbs!
- Spiced red cabbage with apples. I’ve made this every year that I’ve ‘done’ the family Christmas – it works well with turkey but is also very nice with venison and goose.
- Duck fat roasties
- Parmesan Parsnips – these are just parboiled for 5 minutes then dipped in a mix of seasoned flour and parmesan before being roasted alongside the turkey
- Sprouts with chestnuts (ready peeled from merchant gourmet who do a much better job of getting all the skin off than I can ever manage)
- Buttered carrots and celery with caraway seeds (boil until ‘al dente’ then toss in butter and a teaspoon of caraway seeds and put in the oven to keep warm)
- Pigs in blankets (ready made from Abel and Cole)
- Home made bread sauce
- Cranberry Jelly (baxters with a bit of extra port stirred through!)
- Red wine giblet gravy
I’ve prepared all the vegetables, the stuffing and the bread sauce in advance.
Here’s the spiced red cabbage recipe, which keeps well, is delicious with cold meats and can also be frozen.
An easy traditional recipe for Spiced Red Cabbage
- 6 teaspoons Brown sugar
- 1 Red Cabbage About 1/2kg weight
- 1 Large Cooking Apple
- 2 Onions
- 1 clove Garlic
- 100 ml Red wine vinegar
- 30 g Butter
- Nutmeg Freshly grated
- Ground Cinnamon
- Ground Cloves
- 6-8 Juniper berries Crushed
Cut the cabbage into quarters like orange segments and remove any hard stem. Then shred finely along the segments to make fine ribbons of cabbage
Peel and core the apple and chop finely.
Peel the onion and chop finely. Peel and chop the garlic
Put a layer of cabbage in the bottom of a large ovenproof dish with a lid. Now layer onion, garlic and apple, then season with a sprinkle of the spices, two teaspoons of sugar and with salt and pepper.
Continue layering and seasoning each layer, finishing with a layer of cabbage (I do this by keeping the cabbage in quarter portions, and dividing the apple/onion mix into thirds).
Once all the layers are complete, pour over the vinegar and then dot the butter on top. Cover the casserole (if necessary with foil under the lid) and place in the oven at 150c for 2 hours
Check and stir occasionally. This dish is best made a day in advance and reheated to allow all the spices to permeate the cabbage.
My Christmas pudding came from Waitrose and will get cooked in the microwave, laced with a little extra brandy. I’m serving it this year with Brandy Clotted Cream because I don’t think another year’s supply of brandy butter is a good idea!
The only real cooking I’m doing is to make up the stuffing, the bread sauce and the spiced red cabbage. Best of all, the spiced red cabbage improves if you make it a day in advance – and it will keep quite well for 2 or 3 days in the fridge if necessary. It really does sounds like quite a feast though doesn’t it?
I’ve got clementines, stollen and homemade mince pies and lots of chocolates if anyone is still hungry. And, I’m hoping that it will be a really stress-free Christmas this year!
Have a joyful and peaceful day yourselves – and try to make Christmas an easy one this year!