There has been much talk amongst bloggers of late about the Traditional Christmas Feast. Much of the talk has been quite disparaging, degrading even. There have been slurs against the older traditions, complaints that it is hidebound and moribund. I wish to set the record straight. In the boys house we follow orthodox English tradition, though with some slight blending between the boy’s and his wife’s slightly altered family mores.
Lets start with the starter. Gin and tonic.
As for the food, in the boys family this was always a prawn cocktail, in LL’s smoked salmon. We alternate now. It will be smoked salmon this year (the boy insists on wild Pacific Coho, or possibly xx, double smoked), on home made buttered brown bread, with fresh cracked pepper and a slice of lemon. On prawn years, it bears little resemblance to the much maligned 1960’s variety. You start with a bed of shredded lettuce, then a nice heap of cold peeled prawns and a got helping of the family secret recipe red sauce (starts with fresh tomatoes and chillies to give you an idea, it’s a family recipe that goes back at least 7 generations). The course is usually served with a nice chilled white, this year I’ve got a rather scrumptious bottle of 99 Sauterne put aside.
In the boys house is was always Turkey, in LL’s goose. Back at the boys grampa’s house the turkey was from a friend’s farm, usually spit roasted over an open fire (oh the memories that writing that brought back). I don’t know any good turkey farmers, and if you don’t know its origins, its probably tasteless and factory bred. I’ve been converted to goose. I’ve got a source up in Scotland who free ranges them on the moors, the depth of taste is exquisite. This gets stuffed with a mess of brown bread crumbs, sausage (the local butcher does his own traditional pork mix), chestnuts (from the tree at the bottom of the garden), and a healthy dose of rosemary and sage (fresh picked from just outside the door).
To compliment there will be chipolata sausages (a thing from LL’s family, but our butcher does ones with a nice healthy dose of pepper, yum), roast potatoes (I prefer King Edwards, and they are roast in goose fat, obviously), baked sweet potatoes or bashed turnips (haven’t decided which yet, often both get done, but we’re only six at table this year), steamed carrots in butter and honey, steamed broccoli, and them there little cabbages (as my grandma always used to call sprouts). Now the latter must be cooked only lightly, just enough to heat them through. Ours will be fresh out of the garden (we managed to keep the slugs off this year), and with a little butter on top, they are one of the kings of the vegetable world. This all will be washed down with a 14 year old bottle of Aussie red (left over from our wedding no less).
This all gets finished off with Christmas pudding and pumpkin pie. Both families did Christmas pud, the boys always had pumpkin pie. The pud come’s from LL’s aunt, will be appropriately steamed for a few hours, then doused in brandy and flamed at the table. This will be served with unhealthy doses of brandy butter (made last weekend, and is liberally imbued with brandy), and heaps of whipped cream. There will be a pile of choclates and home made mince pies and a heap of little oranges if anyone can be bothered, plus the remains of a bottle of 1964 Armagnac for afters.
Now go on, tell me that is not a meal worth eating?