Heather's Monthly Articles

British Christmas Dinner Recipes

December 2016

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,
time to put a penny in the old man’s hat.
If you haven’t got a penny a ha’penny will do,
if you haven’t got a ha’penny, God bless you.

This seasonal jingle from the 1800s might be catchy, but it’s a bit outdated. Turkey long ago replaced goose as traditional British Christmas Day faire, and it’s the young not the old men who sport hats nowadays. As for the ha’penny, well those went out of circulation in 1984. One thing that hasn’t changed though is the Englishman’s appetite for a hearty Christmas dinner.

British Christmas Dinner Recipes

As well as turkey – the bigger, the better – there’s all manner of tasty accompaniments. So if you fancy doing Christmas British-style this year, here’s a few of my favorite tried and tested recipes (Note: the Christmas Cake needs to be prepared about 10 days in advance of eating):

Chestnut Stuffing

• 2lb. chestnuts
• 1/2 pint milk or stock
• 2oz. butter
• 1/4 teaspoon sugar
• salt
• pepper

Cut the tops from the chestnuts. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes at 350°F, or boil in water for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the outer and inner skins, put the nuts in a pan with the milk or stock. Simmer gently until tender. Rub through a sieve, add the butter, sugar and seasoning. Use for stuffing breast cavity of turkey.

Sausage & Celery Stuffing

• 1oz. butter
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 sticks celery
• 12oz. sausage meat
• 4oz. fresh breadcrumbs
• grated rind and juice 1 lemon
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
• 1 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 small egg, beaten

Melt the butter and gently fry the onion and celery for about 5 minutes. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly. Use for stuffing body cavity of turkey.

British Christmas Dinner Recipes

Roast Potatoes

Peel and quarter large Russet potatoes. Place in a saucepan with water and a pinch of the salt. Bring to boil and simmer for 8 minutes until slightly soft. Drain and cool completely. Roughen up the edges with a fork (or shake around in pan or colander before cooling to achieve the same affect). Cover the bottom of a roasting pan with oil (vegetable, or groundnut works well) and heat in a hot (400°F) oven for a few minutes. Place potatoes in a single layer in the hot oil and coat with the oil. Bake for 40-60 minutes, baste occasionally with oil and turn once at the mid-way point.

British Christmas Dinner Recipes

Roast Parsnips

• 1 1/2lb parsnips
• 2oz butter
• 2 teaspoons lemon juice
• salt
• pepper
• 1/2 teaspoon, dry mustard

Wash and scrub the parsnips. Trim off the tops. Scrape. Cut into quarters. Parboil in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain thoroughly. Set oven at 350°F and heat the butter in an oven proof dish. Add the parsnips and turn them in the fat. Sprinkle over the lemon juice and seasonings. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes until browned and tender.

British Christmas Dinner Recipes

Yorkshire Pudding

• 4oz. flour
• pinch salt
• 1 egg, lightly beaten
• 1/2 pint milk
• sunflower oil

Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the center and add the egg, then half the milk. Stir, drawing in the flour from the sides. Beat well until smooth. Beat in the rest of the milk. Put the oil in a 12-hole muffin tin and heat in the oven at 325° F until the oil is just beginning to smoke. Stir the batter and pour it into the tin. Bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen and golden.

British Christmas Dinner Recipes

Pigs in Blankets

• 8 slices of American (thin/fatty) bacon
• 16 chipolata (“breakfast-style”) sausages
• wooden cocktail sticks/toothpicks, to secure the bacon

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Place the bacon on a chopping board, then using the side of the knife, stretch and flatten the bacon until about half as long again. Cut each strip of bacon in half across, then wrap each piece around a chipolata, securing with cocktail sticks/toothpicks. Place in a roasting tray and roast for 15 minutes until golden-brown and cooked through.

British Christmas Dinner Recipes

Sherry Trifle

• 4 individual (7” tin) sponge cakes
• raspberry jam
• 1/2 pint sherry
• finely grated rind 1 lemon
• 1oz chopped almonds
• 1 pint custard
• 1/2 pint double cream
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• glacé cherries
• flaked almonds

Split the sponge cakes in 2 and spread with jam. Sandwich the cakes together again and arrange them in a deep glass dish. Pour the sherry over the cakes and sprinkle with grated lemon rind and chopped almonds. Cover with custard. Whip the cream and sugar together and pile on top of the trifle. Decorate with glace cherries and flaked almonds.

British Christmas Dinner Recipes

Christmas Cake

• 4 oz. flour
• 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
• 4 oz. butter
• 4 oz. soft brown sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 oz. ground almonds
• 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
• 1 lb. mixed dried fruit (currants, sultanas, raisins)
• 1 oz. chopped nuts (brazil nuts, walnuts, almonds)
• 2 oz. glacé cherries, quartered
• 2 oz. mixed peel
• apricot jam

Almond paste:
• 8 oz. ground almonds
• 8 oz. confectioner’s sugar
• 1 tablespoon lemon juice
• few drops almond essence
• 2 egg yolks

Royal Icing:
• 2 egg whites
• 1 lb. icing sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
• 1/2 teaspoon glycerine (optional)

Line the sides and base of a 7” cake tin with a double thickness of wax paper. Sift together the flour and mixed spice. Cream the butter and sugar until light and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a tablespoon of the flour with each. Fold in the remaining flour with the ground almonds and lemon rind. Mix in the dried fruit, chopped nuts, cherries and mixed peel.

Spoon into the prepared tin, smooth the surface and make a hollow about 1” deep, in the center. Bake at 300° F for about 2 1/2 to 3 hrs. Cover the top of the cake with wax paper half-way through cooking if it is becoming too brown. When ready, the cake should have slightly drawn away from the sides of the tin; it should spring back when lightly pressed with fingers in the center, and a skewer pushed into the center should come out clean.

Leave the cake in the tin to cool slightly, then turn out on to a wire rack and peel off the paper. When quite cold wrap well in greaseproof paper or foil and store in an airtight container for at least a week before putting on the almond paste.

To make the almond paste: mix the ground almonds and icing sugar. Add lemon juice, almond essence and enough egg yolk to form a pliable paste. Knead lightly until smooth and free of cracks. Brush top and sides of the cake with melted and sieved apricot jam. Roll out the paste and cover the top and sides of the cake neatly. Place the cake on a board and leave in a cool, dry place for about 3 days to allow the paste to become dry and firm before icing.

To make the icing: lightly whisk the egg whites. Then gradually sieve in the confectioner’s sugar, beating well between each addition, until icing is smooth and stands in stiff peaks. Beat in the lemon juice and glycerin, if used. Ice the top and sides of the cake, either swirling the icing to give a rough finish or smoothing it with a palette knife/spatula. Leave to set. Decorate with piped royal icing, if wished. Use a little icing to fix on any bought decorations.

British Christmas Dinner Recipes

Christmas Pudding

• 4oz. flour
• 1 teaspoon mixed spice
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 6oz. fresh breadcrumbs
• 4oz. shredded suet
• 4oz. light brown sugar
• 12oz. mixed dried fruit
• 2oz. mixed candied fruit
• finely grated rind 1 large orange
• 2oz. chopped almonds
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 1 tablespoon black treacle (molasses)
• 1 tablespoon brandy
• 4 tablespoons brown ale

Grease a 1 1/2 pint pudding basin Sift the flour and spices into a mixing bowl, add the remaining dry ingredients and mix together thoroughly. Add the eggs, treacle, brandy and ale and mix to a fairly soft consistency. Turn into the prepared basin. Cover with greased wax paper and foil and steam for 5 hours. Allow to cool. Remove foil and paper and cover with fresh paper and foil. Store in a dry airy place. To reheat, steam for 1/1/2 hours. Serve with brandy butter.

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