Keeping to tradition

Keeping to tradition

Posted 13th Dec 2015

Have a hearty, traditional Christmas Day dinner with our classic festive menu the whole family will enjoy

Leek, Parsnip and Chestnut Soup

Serves 4-6

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil
25g butter
2 large leeks, sliced and washed including most of the green part
1 stick of celery
1 white onion
2 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves only, plus a few for garnish
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
Salt and pepper
3 parsnips, peeled, cored and chopped finely
75g cooked chestnuts, plus a few extra for garnish
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock

1. Add the oil and butter to a large pan and turn the heat to medium. Add in the leeks, celery and onion along with the thyme leaves and the peeled garlic. Season with salt and pepper place a lid on and allow the vegetables to sweat for 10 minutes, stirring a few times in between.

2. Now add the chopped parsnips and chestnuts along with the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the parsnips are tender. Make sure the vegetables are completely covered with stock, if not; add a little more.

3. After about 20 minutes all the vegetables should be nice and tender.

4. Turn off the heat and leave to cool slightly before blending either in a liquidiser in batches or with a handheld blender, until smooth.

5. Return the soup to the pan and reheat. You can add a little more stock if you feel the mix is too thick.

6. Season with a little more pepper before serving with a few more chopped chestnuts and a few fresh thyme leaves.

Tip: Dress the soup with a drizzle of oil for a tasty finishing touch. 


Roast Loin of Pork with Sloe Gin and Walnut Stuffing

Serves 4-6

50g dried cranberries
4 tablespoons sloe gin
1kg lean pork loin joint on the bone

For the stuffing:
450g pork sausage meat (about 6 sausages)
100g breadcrumbs made from stale bread or fruit loaf
Pinch mixed spice
Pinch cinnamon
50g walnuts

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180�C/350�F/Gas Mark 4. Place the cranberries into a small bowl with the sloe gin and allow to soak for 30-60 minutes.

2. Dry the outside of the meat and score deeply using a sharp knife. Carefully take the joint and make a large, deep cut into the fatty part of the meat (not through the eye of the meat but towards the edge where the meat is most fatty).

3. In a bowl, mix together the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, spices and walnuts. Add the drained cranberries and mix thoroughly.

4. Take the stuffing and push into the opening you made in the pork loin. Any remaining stuffing can be shaped into large balls and cooked alongside the joint for about 20 minutes.

5. Weigh the stuffed joint and calculate the cooking time (30 minutes per 450g plus 30 minutes for medium).

6. Brush with oil, sprinkle on salt and rub into the fat. Place the meat on a rack in a roasting tin and open roast in a pre-heated oven for the calculated time.

7. Remove the joint from the oven and allow to stand for at least 10 minutes before carving.

8. Save the cooking juices to make the gravy and add a good measure of sloe gin to the gravy while making.

9. Serve the pork with the stuffing balls (if made with any remaining stuffing), roasted parsnips and all your favourite traditional trimmings.


Glazed Turkey with Cranberry, Bacon and Pecan Stuffing

Serves 12

For the stuffing:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
3 rashers back bacon, finely chopped
50g fresh cranberries
250g fresh breadcrumbs
Grated zest and juice of 1 orange
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
75g pecan halves, coarsely chopped
3 eggs, beaten
Ground black pepper

For the turkey and glaze:
6kg oven-ready British turkey
5 tablespoons apricot jam
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion and bacon until the onion is soft and golden and the bacon is cooked. Add the cranberries and continue to cook until the berries ‘pop’. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the breadcrumbs, grated orange zest and juice, thyme, pecans and eggs. Season with freshly ground black pepper and stir everything together until evenly mixed.

2. Spoon some of the stuffing into the neck end of the turkey and roll the rest into small balls. Place the balls in a single layer in a shallow, greased ovenproof dish and chill until needed.

3. Fold the loose neck skin under the turkey and tuck the wing tips under the body to hold the neck skin in place. Lift the turkey into a large, deep roasting tin and season all over with freshly ground black pepper.

4. Pre-heat the oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. Cover the turkey with a large sheet of foil to form a tent over the bird so air can circulate around it and tuck the foil around the top edge of the tin to make a tight seal.

5. Roast the turkey in the oven for 3 hours, basting it with the pan juices from time to time. Mix together the apricot jam, soy sauce and lemon juice until smooth. Remove the turkey from the oven and take off the foil. Brush the glaze over all over the turkey and return to the oven with the stuffing balls. Roast for another 30 minutes or until the turkey is a rich golden brown and the juices run clear when the thickest part of the leg is pierced with a skewer.

6. Leave the turkey in a warm place to rest for 15-20 minutes before carving. Serve with roast potatoes, vegetables and the stuffing.

Tip: Don’t buy a premium apricot jam to make the glaze as it will contain lots of large pieces of fruit that will need to be sieved out. If your supermarket sells apricot glaze used for brushing over fruit tarts, this is ideal as it’s smooth. 


Pork, Sage and Cranberry Oaty Stuffing Balls

Makes 12 stuffing balls

24 sage leaves
1 tablespoon olive oil
70g Flahavan’s Irish organic porridge oats
1 celery stick, finely chopped
Zest of 1 orange
1 red onion, finely chopped
60g pine nuts
400g sausage meat
50g dried cranberries

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4. Finely chop half the sage. Add a little olive oil to a frying pan along with the finely chopped sage, porridge oats, celery, orange zest, red onion and pine nuts, and sauté until soft.

2. Allow to cool, then add the sausage meat and cranberries, mixing to combine.

3. Shape the mixture into 12 evenly-sized balls and place on a baking tray lined with parchment.

4. Lightly coat the remaining sage leaves in olive oil, then top each stuffing ball with a sage leaf. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven when golden brown and serve. 


Crunchy Brussels Sprouts

Serves 4

500g fresh Brussels sprouts
100ml stock made from Knorr vegetable stock cube
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
2 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon dried sage

1. Remove the outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts and trim the stems. Place the sprouts in a single layer in a large saucepan. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.

2. Uncover and simmer until all the liquid evaporates. Heat the olive oil or butter in a small saucepan. Add the breadcrumbs and sage.

3. Garnish the sprouts with the warm breadcrumb mixture and serve.


Buttery Leeks with Chestnuts, Black Pepper and Streaky Bacon

Serves 4

50g unsalted butter
100g smoked streaky bacon lardons
200g chestnuts, roughly chopped
400g leeks, sliced
Salt and cracked black pepper

1. Heat a medium-sized frying pan then add the butter and lardons. Cook until the lardons start to release some fat, turn up the heat and cook the lardons until they start to colour, about 5 minutes.

2. Add the chestnuts and leeks. Cook for a further 5 minutes.

3. Season with salt and plenty of black pepper then serve. 


Creamy Bread Sauce

600ml semi-skimmed milk
1 onion, peeled
A few cloves
1 fresh bay leaf
15g butter
A pinch of nutmeg
1 Knorr chicken stock pot
200g white ‘day old’ breadcrumbs, finely processed

1. Place the milk in a pan. Cut the onion in half and use the cloves to secure a bay leaf to it. Add to the pan.

2. Add the butter, a pinch of nutmeg and the Knorr chicken stock pot to the pan, and stir it all in. Bring the pan to the boil.

3. Take out the onion and stir in the ‘day old’ breadcrumbs. Cook slowly for 5-6 minutes to thicken the sauce and then pour it into a serving jug.

4. Cover the jug with clingfilm and keep somewhere warm until it’s time to serve.

Tip: However much sauce you make, stick to a 3:1 ratio. For example, 3 times the amount of milk to 1 times the volume of breadcrumbs, so 600ml milk and 200g of breadcrumbs as used here. 


Mince Pies

Makes 12 (plus 3 x 450 jars mincemeat)

For the mincemeat (make the day before):
225g raisins
225g sultanas
225g currants
50g ready-to-eat dried apricots, chopped
100g glacé cherries, halved
100ml brandy or rum
1 medium eating apple
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
180g Tate & Lyle dark soft brown sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
50g butter

For the pastry:
200g plain white flour
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons Tate & Lyle icing sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
100g chilled butter, cut into pieces
1 egg yolk from a large egg
2 tablespoons chilled water
Beaten egg, to glaze

1. To make the mincemeat, put the raisins, sultanas, currants, apricots, glacé cherries and brandy or rum into a large mixing bowl. Stir well, then cover and leave in a cool place for 4-6 hours, stirring occasionally, or leave to stand overnight.

2. When the fruit has soaked, peel, core and chop the apple, then blanch it in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Drain well. Add to the fruit mixture with the cinnamon and nutmeg and stir well.

3. Add the dark soft brown sugar to the fruit mixture. Warm the lemon juice, water and butter in a saucepan until the butter has melted. Add to the fruit and stir well, then pack the mincemeat into sterilised jars. Seal and label. Keep in a cool place for up to 3 months.

4. To make the pastry, sift the flour, salt and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and stir them together. Rub in the chilled butter with your fingertips until it looks like fine breadcrumbs.

5. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture. Beat the egg yolk with the water and stir it in using a round-bladed knife, then bring the dough together into a ball. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly until the dough is smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for 15 minutes.

6. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface until 5mm thick. Stamp out 12 rounds with a 7.5mm cutter, then 12 rounds with a 6mm cutter, re-rolling the pastry as necessary.

7. Place the larger rounds of pastry into patty tins and add 1 heaped teaspoon of the mincemeat. Brush the pastry rims with water, then place the lids on top, sealing the edges together. Use a sharp knife to make a small hole in the top of each pie. Brush with the beaten egg, to glaze.

8. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool for a few minutes, then sprinkle with icing sugar and serve warm or cold.


Figgy Pudding

Makes 2 medium puddings

350g ready-to-eat dried figs
300g mixed vine fruits
150ml Belvoir spiced winter berries cordial
1 large eating apple
1½ teaspoons mixed spice
3 tablespoons brandy or rum
125g soft butter
125g dark brown sugar
100g self-raising flour
2 large eggs
75g fresh white breadcrumbs

1. Use scissors to snip the figs into small pieces and place in a large bowl. Add the vine fruits and cordial and mix well. Core the apple then coarsely grate, stir into the fruits with the mixed spice and brandy if using. Leave to soak for 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, use a little of the butter to grease the base and sides of the pudding basin. Cut a circle of baking parchment to fit the bottom. Fill and boil the kettle. Set the oven to 180ºC/160ºC Fan/Gas Mark 4. Have a sheet of foil and a piece of baking parchment to hand and fold a crease in the centre.

3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs and flour and beat well. Now add the breadcrumbs and soaked fruits and give everything a good mix. Get as many helpers to stir too, as this brings good luck. Pour into the prepared basin.

4. Lay the baking paper and foil over the pudding with the crease in the middle. Roll up the edges to seal it tightly. Stand the puddings in a deep roasting tray and pour boiling water from the kettle to come halfway up the side of the pudding basins. Bake in the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes, topping up the water as required.

5. Serve it hot with ginger custard (see tip below). Or if you are saving it for Christmas day, cool completely, then remove the foil and paper and cover with clear film. Store in a cool place. To reheat on Christmas Day, steam the pudding in a steamer for a further 40 minutes. Invert it onto a plate and top with clean holly. Serve with ginger custard or brandy butter.

Tip: For ginger custard, heat 400ml milk in a pan. In a large jug mix 3 tablespoons custard powder with 60ml ginger cordial until it forms a paste. Pour the hot milk onto the ginger paste, then return the mix to the rinsed out pan. Bring to the boil, stirring until the custard boils and thickens. Serve hot. 


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