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Friday, December 20, 2013
Nothing says family reunion better than Christmas dinner and unfortunately, it can be difficult to please everyone’s taste buds. Fortunately for you, our Great British chefs have come together to create ten delicious recipes that are guaranteed to put an end any squabbling this year.
According to sources, one notable medieval Christmas dinner featured a humongous pie, which was 165lbs in weight and had a diameter of 9ft. Its ingredients included:
• 2 bushels of flour • 20lbs of butter
• 4 geese • 2 rabbits
• 4 wild ducks
• 2 woodcocks
• 6 snipes
• 4 partridges
• 2 cow’s tongues
• 2 curlews
• 6 pigeons
• and finally 7 blackbirds
Whether cooking it, smelling it, planning it or eating it, Christmas dinner is without a doubt one of the most talked about topics in the festive period. The very nature of Christmas itself conjures up images of culinary delights that would normally be restricted or frowned upon during other parts of the year. Due to the evolution of our celebratory attitudes, we are now actually encouraged to restrain from our usual mode of eating, by simply allowing everything that is desirable to be scoffed! It is a time of feasting, sharing, and consequently, gaining the ubiquitous Christmas pounds. But why have we placed such great importance specifically to the dinner, and what traditions have changed over the years to ulimately make this the favourite time of the year for everyone?
Amazingly, it was the Victorians that introduced us to the tradition turkey and by doing so, they revolutionised Christmas as we know it. During the 19th Century, wealthy families began consuming to turkey on Christmas Day, and once Queen Victoria and the Royal family shared their approval with the public, everyone else followed suit. According to current statistics, over 90% of families in the UK now devour turkey as their centrepiece on Christmas Day, with beef and lamb standing as the most popular alternatives to turkey. Our great British chef, Dominic Chapman, has provided us with his succulent Bronzed Turkey, which can be perfectly complimented with his Turkey Gravy.
As well as the Victorians inspiration of turkey, over time we have also borrowed their idea of incorporating roast potatoes as a key feature in our Christmas dinners. Although the roasting methods differ, we have since developed several variations of the roasted spud; some households enjoy their potatoes cooked in olive oil and herbs, some in goose fat, while others enjoy saving time with shop bought ones. One thing is for certain though, you will not be disappointed by Josh Eggleton’s version of crispy roasted potatoes.
Stuffing, originally called ‘farce’ or ‘forcemeat’, typically used to consist of a mixture of vegetables, herbs, spices, nuts, cereal, liver and brains. A few years on and minus the brains, there is a wide variety of stuffings to choose from. Vegetarian options can include rice, tofu and fruit, but the most popular of all, is sausage meat. Whichever you prefer no Christmas dinner is complete without Dominic Chapman’s alternative apricot stuffing.
In 1737, the first ever recorded recipe of a yorkshire pudding appeared in a book, The Whole Duty of a Woman, listed as A Dripping Pudding - made from the dripping of spit-roast meat. All British batters consist of the same very basic ingredients: flour, eggs and milk – or, for a lighter result, a mixture of milk and water. Because of it’s simplicity, yorkshire puddings can be viewed as quite dull, however Galton Blackiston has created the ultimate yorkshire pud recipe that, together with Dominic Chapman’s sauce set, are a match-made in heaven.
Vegetables are arguably the most controversial aspect of a Christmas dinner, and have always been renowned for dividing family members over their love-hate reputation. For those that turn their noses up at them, changing their stubborn opinions will require a miracle. That miracle has luckily arrived in the form of the Great British chefs, who are determined to change people’s attitudes by creating scrumptious alternatives to adorn your roast with. Their vegetable side dishes include Paul Foster’s rustic, roasted cauliflowers and chestnuts, Josh Eggleton’s fresh, purple sprouting broccoli with hazelnuts, and pickled red cabbage, and finally, Paul Heathcote’s heartwarming carrots coated with tarragon and garlic.
The life of the Christmas pudding began in Medieval England, when the Roman Catholic Church declared that everyone should make a pudding using thirteen ingredients, to represent Christ and the twelve apostles. Every member of the family would stir the mixture and make a wish, which is now called Stir-up Sunday. In some households, the elders would hide coins in the pudding mixture with the idea that if you were lucky enough to discover one, you would receive wealth, health and happiness for the coming year.
Dating back to the medieval times, Mince Pies did actually contain meat. When returning, European crusaders brought Middle Eastern recipes which contained meats, fruits, and spices; early mince pies were also known as mutton pie, shred pie and Christmas Pie. Thankfully, by the mid-19th century mince pies evolved in to how we know them; containing fruit, nuts and spices. An urban myth states that Oliver Cromwell made it illegal for people to eat mince pies on Christmas Day, in a bid to tackle gluttony.
From looking back over the evolution of the Christmas meal, it is evident that the festivities we take part in today, have derived from similar traditions in history.
To view each recipe, click on the links above.
Make sure you send us photos of your creations via Facebook today!
On behalf of the EDP, we wish you a very Merry Christmas.