Christmas Lunch – the aftermath

Smoked salmon bagel
Smoked salmon bagel

Christmas lunch/dinner in the UK isn’t traditionally that much to write home about. It’s a Sunday dinner with a strange meat, usually turkey, with added pork in the form of stuffing or “pigs in blankets”. In this blog, I’ll outline what we had and good recipes for making the components.

First up breakfast. A tradition in my house has been smoked salmon on a crunchy brown bread, a squirt of lemon juice and some freshly ground black pepper. Recent developments have seen the addition of a few capers, bagels rather than artisan brown bread, and the optional addition of cream cheese to offset the oily fish and the sharp cut of the lemon juice and capers.

The main event

Christmas dinner

So we come to the Christmas dinner itself. First up, make sure your wine glass is topped up. In my case champagne.

You can see from this plate we have:

  • The roast meat. In this case, duck.
  • The most important part: gravy.
  • The second most important part: roast potatoes.
  • Homemade cranberry sauce.
  • Pigs in blankets.
  • Stuffing.
  • The obligatory Brussels sprouts.

Since it was only two of us, many things have been missed out:

  • Roasted parsnips.
  • Braised red cabbage.
  • Celeriac. I like the one I did recently. Toasty caremelised walnuts for the win!
  • Further greens, maybe spring greens or green cabbage.
  • Etc.

I started preparing things in what I thought was plenty of time, but as it turns out, I only just had time before the duck went into the oven. I often see to prepare as much as you can the night before, and I believe it!

So now, the recipes!

Duck, gravy and roast potatoes.

Roast duck

Since there was only two of us, goose would have been overkill and turkey is usually plain horrible; we went with duck and procured one from Madgett’s in our local farmer’s market and a Jamie Oliver recipe to cook.

The cooking time was a lot less than other recipes but my meat thermometer said it was done to schedule and then its resting time. The crust on top held out hope, but in the event, simple sea salt would have been as good.

With the vegetables in the roasting tray under the duck and the port in the gravy, the resultant gravy was excellent, rich and deep.

Roast potatoes I’ve struggled with recently. Whatever the potato variety or the oil I can get the potatoes crispy but not fluffy. I persist. My favourite variety is King Edwards because the flesh tastes so good.

Cranberry sauce.

Cranberry sauce

Cranberry sauce is a tricky one. Cranberries themseleves are nasty sharp little things and it takes a lot of sugar to tame them. On the upside you can make them even more interesting with port, cinnamon and much else. I used the recipe from BBC Good Food (of course).

Pigs in blankets.

Pigs in Blankets.

And now on to the porky main event, Pigs in Blankets. There’s no mystery here: baby chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon and put in the oven. The Jamie Oliver addition is a glaze of honey and worcestershire sauce which worked really well.



For the stuffing, we go to Delia Smith. This is simple pork sausagemeat, breadcrumbs, chestnuts and so on. You can go overboard with stuffing adding dried fruit like apricots or cranberries. We didn’t do that. We stayes close to the Delia Smith recipe.

Brussels sprouts.

Roast Brusslels sprouts.

On the basis that anything is better in the oven rather than being boiled, I did sprouts in the oven. Par-boiled and then 25 minutes in the oven with oil, chestnuts and some bacon. This was another winner from BBC Good Food.

My addition to this was a crusty topping of grated cheese, mixed chopped nuts and panko.

As a nod to boiling things to death: carrots. I wanted funky white and purple ones but had to make to with boring old orange ones.

Dinner was leftovers, of course.

Today we had Vietnamese duck soup. Bean sprouts, coriander and a splash of odious fish sauce making it authentic. The stock from having boiled the carcass obviously.