On a Sunday afternoon across the UK you can find family after family sitting around the dinner table eating a roast dinner, also known as ‘Sunday lunch’. You can see a similar picture on Christmas Day (which just so happens to fall on a Sunday this year!) with a very similar spread of food out to eat, however there are just a few changes to the food on offer that make it a full-on Christmas dinner! Follow these five steps and you’ll successfully convert your standard Sunday roast dinner into a traditional British Christmas dinner:
Step 1: Exchange your standard meats for a turkey!
On any other Sunday roast beef, pork, chicken and lamb are the meats of choice, served with horseradish, apple sauce, bread sauce and mint sauce respectively. However, Christmas traditions state that turkey is the way to go, so leave the rump roast and spatchcock chickens on the shelf and head for the big birds! Serve it with cranberry sauce and you have a solid base for your festive meal.
Step 2: Stick a few pigs in blankets on your plate.
Pigs in blankets in the UK are a beautiful thing. Chipolata sausages wrapped in bacon, as opposed to the American version of hotdog sausages wrapped in a croissant-like dough (from a tin), are a fundamental part of a Christmas dinner. Many families will have these with their regular roast dinners because they are just too wonderful to only be eaten at Christmas, but nonetheless they are a festive staple that would be sorely missed on any meat-eater’s plate at Christmas time.
Step 3: Add some stuffing to the mix.
I love me some stuffing! (Get your minds out of the gutter, you terrible people.) Made with breadcrumbs, sausage meat, onion, celery, salt, pepper and other spices, or simply made from a packet mix (guilty!), it’s rolled into balls and baked, or more traditionally stuffed inside of the turkey, hence the name ‘stuffing’. A Christmas dinner just wouldn’t be right without it! So at the very least, get yourself a box of Paxo sage and onion stuffing mix and get it down yer.
Step 4: Brussel sprouts.
This step is mandatory, and I will happily admit that I do not follow this step. Brussel sprouts are mini cabbages on sticks, and they give you stinky farts. While a handful of people enjoy eating these devil vegetables, the vast majority will avoid them like the plague. Nevertheless, most people would argue that it’s not Christmas unless you have a few sprouts to chuck at people across the table once the wine has made you a bit silly.
Step 4: Set an alcoholic fruit cake on fire and eat spiced fruity pies with alcoholic butter?
Forget your apple crumbles, cheesecakes and ice creams, a British Christmas dessert spread is incomplete without a Christmas pudding, Christmas cake, chocolate log and mince pies. A Christmas pudding is a steamed suet pudding made with black treacle, spices and brandy made months in advance, fed alcohol along the way and lit on fire when it gets to the table. Traditionally, there is a silver coin or little trinket inside to bring luck or fortune to whoever chomps on it. Christmas cake is similar in its flavours, but is baked and then covered with a layer of marzipan and royal icing, and can be kept for a long time after Christmas day because of its density and alcoholic content. Chocolate log is similar to a chocolate swiss roll, filled with cream and slathered in a chocolate icing. It’s actually french, the buche de Noel, but we Mince pies are small shortcrust pastry pies filled with mincemeat (not actual meat – it’s a mixture of dried fruits, spirits and all those lovely Christmassy spices again!), topped with some more pastry and then dusted with icing sugar. These are often served with a larvely alcoholic brandy butter or brandy cream (yes, more alcohol!). You can buy them in the shops from the start of November, and it’s what we in the UK leave out for Father Christmas on Christmas Eve.
Step 5: Wash it all down with some festive drinks!
Irish cream, brandy, advocaat, mulled wine: you name it, we drink it! People drink Irish cream over ice as a digestif (or whenever they like!) or have it in their coffee or hot chocolate, and advocaat is often mixed with lemonade and lime juice to make snowballs. Brandy is drunk straight, and mulled wine is red wine heated along with spices cinnamon sticks and dried orange and all sorts of lovely things. (Mulled wine is actually German – gluhwein – but it’s really popular here in the UK, possibly because of the influx of German-style Christmas markets that pop up all over the country at this time of year.) All this eating is thirsty work, so a nice Christmassy drink goes a long way!
And there you have it! A sure-fire, fool proof way to turn your bog standard Sunday roast lunch into a beautiful, wonderful, calorific and glorious traditional British Christmas dinner.
Read the rest of my Blogmas 2016 posts here!