Food

My Perfect Christmas Dinner

My housemate recently asked me what my last meal would be. I said a roast, but more specifically, Christmas dinner. It is honestly my favourite thing.

However, a roast can be excellent, but it can also be awful – there is a fine line between masterpieces and failures. This is my perfect Christmas dinner; with all the trimmings and extras you might not think to add to a standard Sunday roast.  

The first, and some might argue the most important, is the meat. Turkey is the obvious choice for most, but in my perfect scenario I would choose chicken; I have always found chicken to be more succulent and flavourful. We stick some garlic up its butt (which is quite weird now I think about it), lump some butter on top and cover it in salt and pepper, and baste it halfway through with its juices. Delicious.  

A very Christmassy element of the dinner is the pigs in blankets – I don’t know why we’ve chosen for this to only be a Christmas thing because they are worthy of consumption all year round. I love the small ones, so you can easily pile them onto your plate. They are best when they are slightly overdone, so the bacon and the skin of the sausage is slightly crispy – you don’t want a limp pig in a soggy blanket.  

‘I’m the person snacking on the crispy bits left at the bottom of the pan’

The most important part of the dinner is the roast potatoes, and if these are wrong then the whole meal is ruined (maybe a little dramatic but it’s true). I love small roast potatoes, cooked in lard or goose fat to be fancy at Christmas, and covered in salt, pepper, and rosemary. They have to be super crispy, which is why cutting them up small tends to work a treat. I’m the person snacking on the crispy bits left at the bottom of the pan. Suggesting anything other than roast potatoes for Christmas dinner gives off major red flags to me – I absolutely do not want mashed potato with my meal, thanks. 

Yorkshire puddings. Need I say more. We have started making a giant one which we cut up amongst us all at uni, but I do love a more traditional shaped Yorkshire – one you can fill to the brim with gravy.  

Stuffing is an element of Christmas dinner which I never used to really like, but now it is one of my favourite parts. Sage and onion stuffing has my whole heart, it’s just so good. It doesn’t need to be fancy stuff, but it is crucial to the dinner. It goes very well with the chicken, both during the dinner and in a sandwich the next day.  

‘Garlic butter carrots. Life changing.’

I realise my dinner has been very carb heavy so far, but isn’t that the best part? However, I also have vegetables in my Christmas dinner – I’ve just found a way to make them unhealthy. Garlic butter carrots. Life changing. I like carrots, but I find boiled veg a bit boring. My dad started cooking the carrots at Christmas in garlic butter, and it is incredible. I also love garlic butter on the broccoli – just put garlic butter on everything. A vegetable I only have at Christmas is parsnips, but I love when they are drizzled in honey and roasted. No sprouts.  

Christmas dinner, as with any roast, needs gravy. It is a key element; without it all the food is dry. My uncle always put a spoonful of lemon curd into chicken gravy, and now it is a staple with any roast. Everyone always turns their nose up to this but try it because it’s surprisingly good – and just gently sweetens it. Cranberry sauce is also very important, it is great with the chicken and is much nicer than bread sauce. 

As we all know, whilst stuffing our faces we ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ at the mish-mash of flavours on our tongues. But when it is over and the washing up is done, we sit on the sofa complaining about how full we are. Then, a few hours later, someone pops up with ‘Pudding?’.

Our tradition used to be pavlova, which my grandma would make, but one year she drank a bit too much and threw it up at the table – so that’s a no go now. My favourite wintery desert is sticky toffee pudding with vanilla ice cream – I love the hot and cold combination and I’m a sucker for anything sickly sweet. 

Christmas dinner is the best part of the day, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve only appreciated it more and more. Especially now I am making my own roasts and Christmas dinners with friends, I appreciate the time and effort my parents always took to create this pivotal meal we look forward to all year. It is the highlight of Christmas – the moment everyone is really present and together.  

Tilda Skene

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