Christmas Dinner? Go Wild and Break with Traditionby Robert Gooch November 17 2017
It was Katharine Hepburn who said, “If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun.” When it comes to choosing the centrepiece for Christmas dinner, there’s only one rule that we never break, and that’s just make sure it’s tasty!
Like so many Christmas traditions upheld today, turkey only became de rigeur while Victoria was on the throne. In medieval Britain, those who could afford it would eat goose, woodcock, wild boar or venison for Christmas dinner – if not peacock or swan. Goose became the firm favourite in the south by the start of the 19th century, while roast beef was most popular in northern England. Those who couldn’t afford these would catch a rabbit for their festive meal. It wasn’t until the end of the 19th century that turkey started to feature more prominently – so there’s really no reason for turkey to be seen as a must for Christmas dinner.
Ms Hepburn also said, “If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.” If you love turkey, by all means stick with turkey – choosing a slow reared free-range bird, of course. But if you fancy something a bit more interesting – or less demanding – this year, we’ve got plenty of alternative ideas.
Goose has always been turkey’s closest competitor, only losing out when its rival became the more affordable option. Unlike turkey, which requires regular basting, the thick layer of flavoursome fat on a goose bastes itself, guaranteeing you moist succulent meat. Drain off the fat that melts during cooking to make the best roast potatoes you’ll ever eat.
Our free-range geese are supplied by local producer, Philip Hunter, who rears them on his nearby family farm. His Legarth strain of geese produce the very finest meat and are ideally suited to their outdoor life, thriving on a diet of homegrown cereals and foraged grass and insects.
Three bird roasts and ballotines
Looking for something spectacular but also unbelievably simple to cook? Our party three bird roasts and family three bird roasts will wow your guests, without giving you any hard work in the kitchen. Just wrap them in foil and pop them in the oven, only opening the door again to remove the foil for the final hour or half hour.
Our party three bird roasts feed up to 20 and are made with a boned goose and chicken and pheasant fillets, which are layered with stuffing (gluten-free orange and thyme stuffing or pork-free orange, apricot and rosemary stuffing). Our family three bird roasts, which feed up to 10, are made with a boned Gressingham duck, pheasant and wood pigeon fillets, and your choice of stuffing.
With no bones to contend with, serving our three bird roasts is as easy as cooking them, making Christmas just as much fun for the host as the guests.
If you’re looking for something smaller, why not try a ballotine? Our combinations include mallard and partridge, guinea fowl and mallard, pheasant and pigeon or pigeon and quail. Our game roulade, made with pheasant and wild duck wrapped in bacon, is another low-fuss high-flavour pick for Christmas.
Sutton Hoo chickens
Slow grown, free range Sutton Hoo chickens make a flavoursome festive feast. Farmed just 20 minutes away from us, where they roam freely over 40 acres of Suffolk meadows, Sutton Hoo chickens are an old-fashioned breed which take twice as long to mature as conventional chickens. Nothing at all like bland supermarket poultry, these taste like chicken used to taste, and their dense, succulent meat, delicious juices and crispy skins are a real treat for Christmas.
Take a tip from our medieval ancestors and serve up wild boar or venison this Christmas. If you’ve got a hot smoker, create an unforgettable Christmas meal by hot smoking your joints with a handful of dry pine needles from your Christmas tree. You may even gain a few extra Christmas presents as your neighbours follow their nose to your garden to see what’s cooking.
Or why not try…?
And if turkey is still your preference this year, opting for a free-range Bronze Turkey or Black Turkey that has been reared slowly, with a natural varied diet, will ensure you get flavour that is in no way run-of-the-mill.
Don’t forget, our last order date for Christmas delivery is Sunday 10 December 2017. Full details of our Christmas and New Year delivery service can be found here.