A Traditional Christmas Dinner — British Style


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This year for Christmas (yes, I KNOW I’m WAY late with this post… but better late than never!), we were extremely fortunate to have an amazing turkey dinner at our friend’s Lee and Jessica’s house. We’ve celebrated with these friends for the past 3 years, as both our families are half Jewish and the other half are out of state (or in their case, out of country) — so neither of us ever have any plans! The first year, I cooked a chicken; the second year, we did a brunch; for this year, Jessca graciously offered to make her family’s traditional Christmas Dinner. Obvioulsy I jumped at the offer — especially since Jess is British!

So what isa traditional Christmas dinner in Great Britian? This is her mother’s family’s typical meal…

Traditional Christmas Dinner (Wheatcroft’s)

Turkey Stuffed with Forcemeat
Sausages
Cranberry Sauce
Roast Potatoes
Brussel Sprouts
Carrots
Gravy
Bread Sauce

Christmas Pudding and  Mince Pies with Brandy Butter and Hard Sauce

When we arrived at their house Christmas day, the aroma wafting through the air was unbelievable. I wandered into the Kitchen to see what Jess had in store for us and came upon this pot…

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Of course I needed to knwow what was in the pot — it was the beginning of Traditional Bread Sauce and this was milk, bay leaves and onions studded with cloves bubbling away. It smelled beautiful… I immediately informed Jess she would need to give me the recipe. Her recipe comes from a famous British chef, Delia Smith.

Traditional Bread Sauce (Delia Smith)
Can be done for turkey, chicken or pheasant.

3 oz freshly made white breadcrumbs with crusts removed.
1 medium Onion
15 cloves
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
15 fl oz milk
2 oz butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream (I didn’t do this)
salt and freshly milled black pepper

A couple of hours before you need the sauce, cut the onion in half and stick the cloves in it. How many cloves you actually use depends on you but I (Delia), personally, like a pronounced flavor (I, Jessica, agree!); if you really don’t like cloves, you can use some freshly grated nutmeg instead. Place the onion studded with the cloves, plus the bay leaf and the 6 black peppercorns in a saucepan with the milk. Add some salt, then bring everything up to boiling point. take off the heat, cover the pan and leave in a warm place to infuse for 2 hours at least – or longer won’t matter.

When you’re ready to make the sauce, remove the onion and reserve it; discard the bay leaf and peppercorns, stir the breadcrumbs into the milk and add 1 oz of butter and some salt. Leave the saucepan on a very low heat (stirring now and then) until the crumbs have swollen and thicken the sauce, approx. 15 mins. Now replace the clove studded onion and again leave the saucepan in a warm place until the sauce is needed.

Just before serving, remove the onion, beat in the remaining butter and the cream, and taste to check seasoning.

This was the end product and it is served as a “side” on your dish. The favor is difficult to describe, as you have the creaminess of the diary and breadcrumbs, mixed with the astringent onion and sweet cloves. I have to say I loved it. It was different than anything else I’ve had before… and I will definitely try making this myself.

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 The “Forcemeat” is used to stuff the turkey…

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Pork forcemeat (stuffing)

1.5 lbs sausage meat
1.5 oz butter
1 large onion
1 dessert spoon each dried mixed herbs and parsley (chopped) or fresh thyme, sage and parsley (chopped) …I did the later.
10 fl oz fresh breadcrumbs
1 egg (I didn’t do this)
stock to moisten (I didn’t do this)

Put meat into a bowl. Melt butter in a pan, add onion, cover and cook until soft. Add to meat with herbs and parsley and crumbs, Mix thoroughly with egg and moisten with as much stock as needed. Add 2 good pinches of salt and 1 of pepper. Stuff in cavity of turkey (or chicken) weigh turkey with forcemeat inside to see how long to cook.

Another side dish she made were extra crispy oven-roasted potatoes. No recipe for these, but you can really use any roast potato recipe you like.

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And the Pièce de résistance? The turkey! Served with roast sausages… pork as well.

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This was my “first helping”. Yes, I had more than one… even though I was full, because everything was so delicious! Here you see the a little bit of everything, including brussel sprouts, carrots and cranberry sauce. Yes, I even ate the pork stuffing and the pork sausages. It was special day and I wanted to experience the meal as it was intended.

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Dessert consisted of mince pies with brandy butter and hard sauce. Typically a Christmas pudding would also be on the table, but since it was a small crowd and because Christmas pudding takes WEEKS to make, the dish was skipped for this year. The mincemeat was made using Delia Smith’s recipe and the crust was just store-bought pie crust. A home-made pie crust would make this little bites even that much better.

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 This is the hard sauce (recipe to follow) and it was DELICIOUS… It’s like a sweet whip cream that’s spiked. What could be better??!!

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Hard Sauce
12 fl oz heavy cream
2-3 oz caster sugar
2 -3 tbsp sherry (to taste)

Whip cream in a bowl until starting to get still, gradually beat in sugar. Then beat in sherry, a teaspoon at a time. Pile up in a small dish or serving bowl and chill until firm.

Brandy Butter
4 oz butter
4 oz caster sugar (fine sugar)
2 – 3 tbsp brandy (to taste)

Cream butter thoroughly in a bowl, gradually beat in sugar and continue to beat until white and smooth. Then beat in brandy, a teaspoon at a time. Pile up in a small dish or serving bowl and chill until firm.

Thanks to Lee and Jess, we had an AMAZING Christmas dinner and got to try a few things we’d never had before. I hope you guys enjoy these recipes just as much as I enjoyed eating the end products!

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