My daughter in Tokyo has asked for our traditional Christmas Recipes. These have developed over the years but are unquestionably traditionally British. Incidentally she was back in the UK at the beginning of December 2017 & wanted a ‘Christmas Dinner’. This was fun as it enabled me to experiment with different recipes to our usual (Delia Smith’s Goose with prune stuffing, Stollen & Buche de Noel on this occasion) but there is no question as to what we will be eating on 25th December.
While turkey is an option for many I do question how many regret this – fine if you are having a lot of people around over the festive season or fancy a freezer full of left overs but we usually have chicken as it is more manageable in every sense. Knowing the facilities in the Tokyo flat I suggest either a half chicken or two leg portions there.
Our dinner comprises of:
- Sage & onion stuffing
- Sausage meat & apple stuffing
- Bread sauce
- Bacon Rolls
- Roast potatoes (this year roasted in goose fat from our earlier dinner)
- Roast parsnips
- Brussels Sprouts
For dessert Christmas pudding & cream followed by cheese, biscuits & port.
This is a large meal but I don’t need to eat again until Boxing Day so actually counts as two meals.
I suggest in Tokyo that you do the bread sauce & stuffings in advance – you can just reheat them in the microwave just before you serve. This will leave the oven free to do the chicken portions, roast potatoes & roast parsnips.
The bread sauce recipe is one from my mother & will need starting the night before as follows:
Buy a proper small, white loaf & leave it out for a few days to go stale. Cut into small cubes & put these in a blender, a few at a time, to make breadcrumbs. You could use panko breadcrumbs if you want – it won’t be the same but it will have a Japanese twist! Put half the breadcrumbs in an oven proof dish. Add half an onion studded with a few cloves. Add salt & pepper to taste & sprinkle over ground mace if you have it. Add milk until the breadcrumbs are soaked through then leave overnight. When ready to cook add more milk if needed to make it wet, dot with butter then bake in the oven at about 180C (160C fan) until well heated through and it has a risen light brown crust on top. I don’t know anyone else who bakes their bread sauce – most recipes involve cooking in a saucepan – so if you want something quicker then check out the internet. It won’t be like mine though!
With the other half of the breadcrumbs make the sage & onion stuffing. Add chopped sage, chopped fresh parsley, finely chopped onion (the other half from the bread sauce), suet or grated butter (I guess but a recipe online suggests 40g fat to 125g breadcumbs), salt & pepper to taste, an egg & some milk if it needs extra liquid to bind together. I don’t like it to be too strong with onion so you may want to add more. If you have a lemon then some zest is nice too. I stuff half into the neck of the chicken & the rest in an ovenproof dish. You could do balls if you want to speed things up a bit. Cook with the bread sauce.
The sausage meat stuffing is 500g sausagemeat (or minced pork), 1 chopped onion, 1 chopped cooking apple & a pack of chestnuts (chopped). You can leave these out if you can’t find them. If you use sausagemeat you won’t need salt & pepper – if you use minced pork then add salt & pepper to taste & maybe some sage. Put in an ovenproof dish & cook with the breadsauce until cooked through (you’ll see the apple boiling & the top will go a chestnut brown). Alternatively do as balls to save time.
For roast potatoes – peel potatoes & cut into even sizes – the smaller they are the quicker they cook but not too small. Boil for 5 minutes & then drain them – put them back into the saucepan with the lid on & give them a shake to roughen them up (not too hard if you have cut them small). Heat goose fat if you have it, rapeseed oil if not, in a hot oven 220C (180C fan) add the potatoes & roll around in the fat. Bake until cooked – I suggest you baste them a couple of times while cooking.
Roast parsnips don’t need par boiling – cut into quarters or eights lengthwise depending on their size & add to hot fat.
I don’t suppose you can get chipolatas and proper bacon – the sausage meat stuffing makes a good substitute for chipolatas. In theory you could make your own bacon – if you do (you’ll find nitrate free recipes on the internet – I have no idea how you would go about getting them in Japan) then do cut it up & keep in the freezer to avoid it getting botulism (this is what the nitrates are there for so it can be hung at room temperature) – just defrost it as you need to use it.
Boil or steam sprouts & carrots on the hob.
I imagine you’ll be able to get bits of chicken eg a wing, skin & liver – if you do boil them with a chopped onion to make a stock & use this with the juices from the chicken to make a gravy. If you can’t get giblets then use either vegetable bouillon or the water from the veg.