Switch up your Christmas traditions

in Food and Drink · 06-12-2019 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

Fancy a break from turkey? Here are a few ideas for serving up something a bit different this year.

It's a risky business, attempting to edit Christmas. From who hosts and gets to place the angel on top of the tree (oh, the arguments), to what time it's acceptable to start opening presents (not before 7am, surely!) and which board games are played, every family has its own rules.

And that's before you get to the food part of the festive programme. Arguably no other meal is as highly anticipated and rigidly prescribed as Christmas dinner, which means making even the slightest adjustments can lead to all out family hostilities.

So perhaps this year, don't make slight adjustments that will cause passive aggressive comments over the crackers ("Well, I liked the parsnips roasted with honey; sesame seeds is a step too far"). Instead, make shocking, unprecedented, wholesale changes that will either make your loved ones go berserk, or will bring them to the realisation that there's no need to have the same Christmas dinner now as you did in the Eighties.

Tempted to shake things up on the festive food front? Consider these swaps...


If you usually have: Smoked salmon blinis/ a whole chocolate orange

Try: French toast or crumpets

There's something luxurious and sophisticated about smoked salmon blinis at Christmas, but they are fiddly. And a whole chocolate orange? Totally understandable, although you may still feel full of chocolate by the time the Queen's speech rolls around.

You need something that will just about keep you going until lunch, but is quick to snaffle amongst all the flying wrapping paper. Our vote goes to thick triangles of brioche French toast dusted with cinnamon, and drenched in syrup for a decadent, still-sweet option, or buttered crumpets - they'll soak up all that Bucks Fizz you'll be drinking.


If you usually have: Roast turkey and all the trimmings

Try: Having your actual favourite meal

There's a reason we rarely eat roast turkey other than on 25 December - it's a colossal effort and requires more gravy than seems possible. So, if you'd rather avoid the stress of cooking a bird you only encounter once a year, particularly when you're cooking for every single person you're related to (which is enough to make anyone want to just order takeout), it is totally fine to give yourself a pass. Just do three chickens instead. Or a few ducks (with a mountain of red cabbage). What about pheasant?

Alternatively, steer clear of fowl completely (those with dietary requirements will thank you) and go with Chef's choice. It's the most special time of the year, right? So serve up the food that means the most to you. It might be platefuls of spaghetti Bolognese with piles of buttery garlic bread; a veg-stuffed wellington and chips; a whole salmon, perfectly pink and served alongside a forest of broccoli; or a Chinese banquet, with every type of dim sum and a tangle of sticky ribs to work through.

Why be held hostage by bread sauce and Brussels sprouts? Break free.


If you usually have: Christmas cake or Christmas pudding

Try: A sponge cake - preferably ginger

It's hard to not enjoy setting something alight, especially when it glows blue and everyone around the table squeals giddily, but be honest, how many of us genuinely like eating Christmas pudding? And Christmas cake is good, but once you've picked away at the marzipan (the best bit), you're basically left with a lump of sodden fruit and too-thick icing.

Between the (many) After Eights and Brazil nuts you've been picking at throughout the day, anything too rich just isn't going to cut it either. Which means you need something light, airy and vaguely medicinal, like a ginger cake. Tea on the side, please.

Boxing Day

If you usually have: Turkey curry

Try: Turkey fajitas

Bridget Jones has immortalised the turkey curry buffet, and we have nothing against it - especially if there's naan involved, and mango chutney, and even more importantly, crisp onion bhajis. In fact, a zingy Thai green turkey curry would change things up at least a little bit, and make you feel virtuous for eating stir-fried veg that hasn't been doused in goose fat and blitzed in the oven.

However, why not consider Mexican instead? Boxing Day fajitas offer plenty of virtuous veg - onions, peppers and all the guacamole you can physically eat. They are also a non-parch inducing way to reuse your leftover turkey, as they come with lots of spicy tomato sauce and sour cream, and the carbs in the wraps should help soak up the Christmas Day booze.

Best of all, fajitas are help yourself if you just place all the bits on the table - so no flashbacks to having to carefully divvy up pigs-in-blankets fairly.


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