Everyone’s familiar with the good old Christmas turkey, but who says you have to stick with tradition this year? There are plenty of other birds worthy of a spot on your festive table, as the gorgeous recipes in this month’s Jamie magazine prove.
Turkeys have been eaten in Britain since the 16th Century, and Henry VIII is widely believed to have been the first monarch to have eaten one with his Christmas dinner, but the bird’s place on the festive menu was truly cemented during Victorian times. They’re now a firm fixture on the Christmas table, with more than 10 million sold in the UK last Christmas alone. But that doesn’t mean you have to do the same, why not give these other brilliant birds a chance this year?
As it reaches its prime by winter, goose was traditionally the bird of choice before the more affordable turkey had a surge in popularity. It’s a bird worth splashing out on, though, with insanely good crispy skin and lots of flavoursome fat. Tim Wilson, founder of London’s renowned Ginger Pig butcher, agrees. “It’s a much darker meat, with a richer flavour,” he says, “and the fat naturally bastes the bird, making it virtually impossible for the meat to dry out.” For the perfect goose, look for a bird weighing between 4.5 and 7kg, and be sure to wrap the less-meaty legs in foil for the last 30 minutes of cooking to stop them drying out.
Goose makes a spectacular turkey alternative
Use all of that delicious fat to make the best-ever gravy and irresistible roast potatoes. If you have any left over, store it in a jar. “It will last in the fridge for a couple of months,” says Tim. Use it for mind-blowing roast veggies, or stir it into a cassoulet to provide an instant hit of flavour.
This goose recipe has a beautifully warm spice mix that gives it a really Christmassy feel. Served with a rich port gravy, it’s sure to guarantee clean plates all ’round.
This method is reliable and will give you an experience you definitely won’t forget, whether it’s the first meal from it, or using up the lovely leftovers it gives you (if there are any!)
Another bird with enough flavoursome fat to make epic roast potatoes, duck has a rich flavour that marries incredibly well with festive spices – think cinnamon, clementine and cloves. When slow-roasted, the meat will fall off the bone and you can create a platter for everyone to tuck into – bash some pomegranate seeds over the top for a special seasonal twist. Just make sure you rest it thoroughly, advises Tim. “Always for at least 15 minutes, but the longer the better,” he says. “This allows the juices in the meat, which naturally travel to the middle during cooking, to disperse evenly through the whole joint, making the meat super-tender.”
Jamie’s traditional roast duck with a Christmas twist
Try a traditional roast duck stuffed with warming Christmas spices and rub the marinade over the skin the day before, if you can, for an extra flavoursome result.
This is a massive Oliver family favourite – everyone loves building their own pancakes and roast duck is such a treat.
This crispy roast duck is a fuss-free alternative to the traditional Sunday roast. Flavoured with bay, clementine and five-spice, it’s a festive favourite.
Thought roast chicken was just for standard Sundays? Paying attention to sourcing means you can choose a chook that’s worthy of the big event, too. Tim advises going for a free-range bird, that’s “grown slowly, which means it’ll have a better breast-to-leg-meat ratio than intensively reared commercial birds.”
This amazing recipe proves roast chicken isn’t just for Sundays
Head to your local butcher to ask about what’s available near you – you’ll often find bigger, 4kg birds at this time of year including the classic large French chicken, poulet de bresse. Stuffed with fresh herbs, with porcini and pancetta butter smeared under the skin, the ultimate roast chicken from this month’s Jamie magazine is no ordinary roast dinner. And when you’re done with the bird, be sure not to throw anything away. “Keep the bones or carcass of the roast along with the vegetable peelings, and make stock,” suggests Tim. “And if you have any leftover meat, try it in a risotto or Vietnamese- style noodle broth.”
Chicken with spicy sausage is always a winner, and makes for a brilliant Spanish spin on a roast.
Lemon and loads of fragrant fresh herbs make this roast chicken a little bit special.
OK, so not everyone needs a great big joint for Christmas. This roast chicken with a rich stuffing is really special if you’re having a romantic dinner. (Plus you get great leftovers.)
Cooking a whole chicken in a pastry crust will give you the most incredible flavour and beautifully tender results. It also looks brilliantly bonkers, so it makes the most fantastic centrepiece for a meal to impress your friends and family. Simply crack off and discard the crust, revealing that super-juicy bird hidden inside. Heaven.
A super-reliable roast chicken recipe to give you juicy meat and crispy skin, every time.
Give beef a chance this Christmas. It’s a great option because you can cook it so it’s juicy and rare, or go low and slow for pull-apart tender meat. Take a look at some of our favourite recipes below:
This simple method for roast topside of beef ensures that it’s super succulent every time.
Take your roast beef to the next level with a hit of sweet garlic and crispy rosemary – simple, but incredible!
Beef Wellington celebrates the luxurious and very tender fillet of beef and is one of those ultimate blowout dishes that hits the right spot several times in one meal. When you’ve made this once, you’ll get a sense of how you can perfect it in your oven and make it work for parties and special occasions; once prepared it’s super-easy to cook and serve.
Venison is meat from deer, and has a beautiful deep flavour. As Jamie says: “It’s delicious, it’s full of flavour and it’s nutritious!” Wild venison is a brilliantly sustainable source of meat but we rarely see it on shop shelves. Meanwhile, eating more wild venison would also help farmers who are managing the UK’s booming deer population.
This is a phenomenally delicious way to roast venison, and the method is foolproof, too. Protected by the fatty, crispy prosciutto as it cooks, then served blushing with this outrageously good, silky sauce, it’s hard to beat.
If you’ve never tasted wild venison you’re in for a real treat. Not only is it leaner than beef, but it’s a great source of zinc and iron, too. This fancy, flavour-packed Wellington (as seen on Friday Night Feast) has all the makings of a show-stopping feast. Next-level deliciousness.
Thinking of trading turkey for an alternative festive centrepiece? Deliciously sweet and salty roast ham could be the showstopper you’re looking for. A good roast ham is a real treat for Christmas, and it’s great for feeding a crowd, too. It’s super-easy to achieve a crispy, golden glaze and juicy, succulent meat. Plus, you’ll have awesome leftovers to use in the days that follow.
WHICH HAM TO BUY?
The first step to great roast ham is good buying. As always, we recommend going for higher-welfare meat – it really is the secret to making sure your ham is amazing. It’s a good idea to order from your butcher in advance, as large cuts are in demand around Christmas.
Pretty much any part of a pig can be cured to make ham, but the most common cuts you’ll find are the shoulder and leg. You can buy hams on or off the bone – smaller hams tend to be boned, while a ham with the bone still in will usually be bigger. Look for something with welfare credentials, ideally a named breed or from a small farm, and reared with access to the outdoors. This all adds up to a great-tasting ham.
This sweet and spicy glazed ham is seriously addictive. Any leftovers make brilliant cold cuts.
When buying pork, remember to always buy free-range or organic whenever possible. This means the animal has led a happy and healthy life, often born and reared outdoors in small numbers where it can forage and exercise as nature intended, rather than being kept in confinement. If you’re looking to trade up, look for higher-welfare certifications, such as RSPCA Approved or Certified Humane as a minimum.
Cooking the cut this way keeps it beautifully juicy and soft – the way a pork pot roast should be
With a gorgeous sage & pine nut stuffing.
This recipe for pork is great. You can serve it as a conventional roast, or let it cool and either serve it as part of a buffet, or in sandwiches as they do in Italy. On my first trip there we stopped at a caravan by the side of the road where we had lovely big porchetta (pork sandwiches) filled with salad leaves, mustard and some very bready salsa verde.
This next-level Sunday roast is well worth the wait – just try to resist that perfect crackling.
Gennaro makes a mean porchetta – and trust me, if you like roast pork chops, you’ll devour this.
Vegetarian options for Christmas Day can sometimes seem like a bit of an afterthought, but these unbelievable recipes are all total showstoppers. Whether you’re a seasoned vegetarian looking for fresh inspiration, or you’re after some new ideas to feed veggie guests, we’ve got loads of lovely recipes to keep things exciting this Christmas.
This recipe well and truly cracks the nut roast. It’s so packed full of flavour that even those turkey lovers will be tucking in at Christmas!
Trust me, vegetarians at the Christmas table will love you for this amazing treat – it’s a cracker!
The brash, punchy flavours of Persian cooking lend themselves perfectly to veggie-based dishes – and to Christmas.
Nut roast is the vegetarian’s turkey; some crave something different but for others it’s not Christmas without one. This one is different: it has a mushroom risotto base and sticky cranberries on top, a bit like a savoury upside-down cake.
Being vegan at Christmas doesn’t have to be a head scratcher. There are heaps of alternatives to classic Christmas recipes, as well as exciting new treats to keep things fresh during the festive season. We’ve put together a smashing vegan feast to get your tastebuds tingling.
For a vegan alternative to a classic roast, this spiced, roasted cauliflower is just the ticket!
Being vegan doesn’t mean compromising on flavour, as this recipe proves. Tofu gives this nut roast a creaminess that makes it seem decadent. Crunchy and full of spices, everyone will be tucking in. You can make individual portions or 1 big tart.
This tart is perfect for Christmas – make it the day before and heat through once dinner’s nearly ready. If you can’t get wild mushrooms, use more chestnut ones.
Based on a beloved old recipe of mine, this method really takes advantage of stuffing and slow-roasting the sweet, versatile squash. You get wonderful flavours exchanging in the centre, great textures, and the slices look amazing.