As Christmas fast approaches, most of our food thoughts tend to focus on the big day itself – the Christmas lunch – traditionally featuring a roast turkey served with all the sides. If it’s your first time hosting, you may be feeling a little daunted. You needn’t! Just think of Christmas lunch in the same way as cooking a big roast dinner.
Whatever your choice of poultry or red meat, be it a turkey, goose or duck, or perhaps even a rib of beef, the sides you serve will make all the difference, so they are worth a little thought in advance. Nobody wants overcooked, soggy Brussels sprouts or watery carrots. Get your sides right and show off with perfectly roasted potatoes all fluffy on the inside crispy on the outside, well-seasoned greens and lashings of tasty homemade gravy, and your meal will instantly become more memorable. With a little forward-planning and these clever ideas for tasty Christmas sides, preparing for Christmas dinner will be a breeze.
First things first, let’s think about potatoes. There are lots of varieties out there to choose from, but you can play safe with a good all-rounder, like a King Edward or a Maris Piper. For a really tasty Christmas twist, have a go at these roast potatoes, with sage and orange, flavoured with bashed garlic, fresh sage leaves and orange peel. To infuse the same flavours into your poultry, you can tuck a little garlic, sage and a whole, sliced fresh orange into your roasting tray. Alternatively, make a flavoured butter adding minced garlic, fresh sage and orange zest, spreading the butter underneath the poultry skin just before roasting. Any leftover butter can be added into your hot-cooked carrots or sprouts.
My favourite way to cook carrots is put them into a pan with just enough water to cover them before adding a good knob of butter and spoonful of sugar. Bring the pan to a boil before simmering for twenty minutes, checking regularly to make sure there is still enough liquid in the pan. When the carrots have cooked, they will be lovely and soft, sweet with a gentle glaze. An alternative recipe for carrots could feature the extra flavours of fresh herbs, orange, garlic and cumin.
If you’d rather cook all your veggies in the same tray, have a look at this roast vegetable megamix and you’ll save on the washing up without compromising on flavour.
Brussels sprouts are notoriously difficult to get ‘just right’. Too long and they’ll start to go grey. Take them out of the pan too soon and it can be like eating a veggie gobstopper! If you want to avoid the problem this Christmas, consider putting your Brussels though a food processor. Brussels with hussle are finely sliced and cooked with olive oil, butter, sage and bacon. For extra taste, toward the end of cooking, they are flavoured up with a dash or Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Delicious!