Six Christmas Feast Recipes

0
76

Trine Hahnemann

In Denmark we have the feast, the tree, and the presents on Christmas Eve. The 25th and 26th are times for Christmas lunch, and that is a big deal in my family. One of my earliest memories of Christmas lunch was in the house of my grandparents, mormor and morfar (mother’s mother and mother’s father). On the morning of the 25th, mormor was cooking the lunch she had been preparing all through December – homemade terrines, herring and cured meat. I was four or five (I can remember because my mother thought morfar had given me too many presents and was scolding him while setting the table with my aunt). A long table had been pulled out. A feast was ready to begin with all its rituals.

- Advertisement -বাংলায় পড়তে হলে ক্লিক করুন Kolkata24x7

We would start with herrings on a piece of rye bread spread with pork fat. After the first bite all the grown-ups would raise their glasses with ice cold aquavit, always filled all the way up to the edge, so a little would spill over. If you did not empty your glass in one go, there would be comments: “you bite it over,” the saying is in Danish. I remember sitting on a chair with cushions half the height of the adults, toasting with grapefruit soda in a small aquavit glass. I was never picky as a child; I loved food and I enjoyed the feast. I remember feeling safe. I loved the loud voices, the banter, the atmosphere getting livelier with the intake of alcohol. The food kept coming for hours. At some point I would get up and play and walk around, and an uncle would hand me a coin.

I have narrowed the range of dishes for our Christmas lunch and increased the vegetables – my mormor would not understand, but traditions evolve when it comes to celebrating Christmas.

Salt-baked celeriac with kale and hazelnuts
This is a great dish served cold or warm, and also works well alongside meat .
Serves 8
celeriac 1, skin on
olive oil
sea salt 2-3 tbsp
kale 300g
hazelnuts 100g, roughly chopped
butter 30g
garlic 1 clove, chopped
lemon juice a splash

Preheat the oven to 150C/gas mark 2. Rinse the celeriac in cold water, cut off the bottom and any dirty spots, brush with olive oil, cover with flaky sea salt, then place in an ovenproof dish and bake for 3-4 hours. (The cooking time will depend on your celeriac’s size. To test if it’s done, touch it gently to see if it’s soft.)

Just before the celeriac is cooked, rinse the kale, remove the leaves from the stems and chop roughly. In a large frying pan, sauté the chopped hazelnuts in butter until golden and lightly toasted, then add the garlic and kale and sauté for another couple of minutes. Season with pepper and lemon juice (not salt, because the celeriac is already salted). Cut the baked celeriac into wedges and serve topped with the kale.

Lightly cured tarragon chicken

Curing the chicken enhances the flavour and texture. This is an old Scandinavian cooking method that we call sprængt. You need to begin this recipe a day ahead.
Serves 8
water 1.5 litres
salt 150g
sugar 150g
peppercorns 1 tbsp
bay leaves 2
tarragon 10 sprigs
free-range chicken 1 large
chicory 2 heads
tarragon leaves to serve
flat-leaf parsley leaves roughly chopped, to serve
For the quickly preserved onions
red onion 1, peeled and cut into wedges
lemon juice of 1
For the tarragon cream
egg yolks 2
Dijon mustard 1 tsp
tarragon or white wine vinegar 2 tbsp
chopped tarragon 6 tbsp
grapeseed oil 200ml
full fat yogurt 2-3 tbsp
A big saucepan, combine the water, salt, sugar, pepper and bay leaves and bring to a boil, whisking until the sugar and salt has dissolved. Turn off the heat and leave the brine to cool, then add the tarragon. Place the chicken in secure doubled plastic bags and pour in the brine. Close the bag, leaving as little air inside as possible, tie with a knot and place in an ovenproof dish, then put in the fridge overnight.

The next day, make the quickly preserved onions. Combine the red onion and lemon juice in a bowl with a little salt and pepper, then leave to stand for a couple of hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Carefully remove the chicken from the bag and liquid, then wipe it with paper towel and place it in an ovenproof dish. Roast for 1-1½ hours, depending on the size of your chicken.

Check whether it is done by piercing the thighs with a sharp knife – the meat will be a soft pink because of the brining, but not red, and should come away from the bone.

Meanwhile, make the tarragon cream. Put the egg yolks in a small blender or food processor, add the mustard, vinegar, tarragon and some salt and freshly ground pepper and blend for 5 minutes. Slowly add the grapeseed oil drop by drop, blending until the mixture starts to thicken. Continue until the mayonnaise is thick and smooth, and then adjust seasoning to taste.

When you’re ready to serve, take the onion out of the lemon juice, and gently mix the yogurt through the tarragon cream. Separate the chicory leaves and place on a serving dish. Pull or shred the chicken into smallish pieces and place on the endive, divide the red onion over the chicken, then sprinkle with tarragon and parsley and serve with tarragon cream.

Pork belly with apple and thyme
Æbleflæsk is a classic Christmas dish in Denmark, with many different regional varieties. Ask your butcher to cut the pork if you’re not confident in your knife skills or the sharpness of your knives.
Serves 8
boneless pork belly 1kg, cut in ½cm slices
thyme 20 sprigs
bramley apples 3, unpeeled, cut in wedges
red onion 1 large, peeled, cut in wedges
rye bread 8 slices, halved

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with non-stick baking parchment, then arrange the slices of pork on the tray. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper and scatter over 10 thyme sprigs. Roast until crisp and golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Take the tray out occasionally and carefully pour the fat off into a bowl – save this for later.

Sauté the apple and onion wedges along with the rest of the thyme and lots of black pepper in 2-3 tablespoons of the reserved pork fat (about 5 minutes – you want the apples to be al dente).

Add the slices of roast pork to the cooked apples and onions and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a serving dish and serve with rye bread (you could also use crispbread or sourdough).

Steamed leeks with goat’s cheese, brown butter and almonds

I grew up with steamed leeks in the winter and love their soft texture and sweet taste.
Serves 8
leeks 8-10, depending on size
butter 75g
skin-on almonds 75g, roughly chopped
rye bread 2 slices
creamy goat’s cheese 100g
cress to serve

Carefully trim the top and bottom off the leeks, so that the layers stay attached at the bottom and you keep as much of the dark green tops as possible. Cut the leeks in half lengthwise and rinse well in cold water, then cut across in two so they fit in a pan. Keep the layers together as much as possible. Place the leeks side by side in a large frying pan, then half cover with water, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and steam for about 5 minutes, or until soft.

While the leeks are cooking, in another frying pan melt the butter until golden brown, then add the almonds and let them roast a bit.

Toast the rye bread until very crisp, then crumble into pieces about the same size as the chopped almonds.

Take the leeks out of the pan with a slotted spoon, and let them drain off a little. Place on a serving dish, laying them next to each other. Top with little dots of goats’ cheese, then scatter over the crisp rye crumbs. Drizzle the brown butter and almonds over the leeks, sprinkle with pepper, and decorate with cress.

Sardines in vinegar brine

We’d normally cook this with herrings, but I have tried it with sardines and it is lovely. Ask your fishmonger to butterfly and fillet the sardines for you, so that when you prepare them, you can close each fillet to look like a whole fish again.
Serves 8
rye flour 50g
sardines, 20, filleted or butterflied
butter 1 tbsp, for frying
fennel 1 small, sliced
For the vinegar brine
clear distilled vinegar 200ml (or white wine vinegar)
bay leaf 1
sugar 75g
cloves 5

To make the brine, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Mix the rye flour with a pinch of salt and some pepper. Place each butterflied sardine in the rye flour, turn and press down a bit so the flour sticks on all sides. Make sure the skin is covered in rye flour.

Heat some butter in a frying pan and cook the sardines in batches over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes on each side, depending on size (better under- than over-cooked). Arrange the fried sardines in a serving dish, laying them side by side. Scatter the sliced fennel over the sardines, then cover with the cooled brine and leave to marinate at room temperature for 1 hour. These will keep for up to a week in the fridge.

Carrot and red cabbage in orange juice with Sichuan pepper

I associate warm flavours with Christmas – here, chilli, cinnamon and Sichuan pepper are cooked with traditional Christmas vegetables.
Serves 8
carrots 600g
red cabbage 400g
butter 3 tbsp
olive oil 1 tbsp
red chillies 3
Sichuan peppercorns 1 tsp
bay leaf 1
cinnamon 1 small stick
freshly squeezed orange juice 200ml
Cut the carrots on an angle into 2cm slices. Cut the red cabbage into 2cm x 2cm pieces.
Carrot and red cabbage in orange juice with Sichuan pepper

I associate warm flavours with Christmas – here, chilli, cinnamon and Sichuan pepper are cooked with traditional Christmas vegetables.
Serves 8
carrots 600g
red cabbage 400g
butter 3 tbsp
olive oil 1 tbsp
red chillies 3
Sichuan peppercorns 1 tsp
bay leaf 1
cinnamon 1 small stick
freshly squeezed orange juice 200ml
Cut the carrots on an angle into 2cm slices. Cut the red cabbage into 2cm x 2cm pieces.

Add the butter and oil to a large frying pan and sauté the chilli and Sichuan pepper for 2-3 minutes, then add the carrots, cabbage, bay and cinnamon and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the orange juice and some salt and pepper, then cook down for about 7-10 minutes (depending on how well done you want the carrots – taste for texture). Just before serving, season to taste.

Carrot and red cabbage in orange juice with Sichuan pepper

I associate warm flavours with Christmas – here, chilli, cinnamon and Sichuan pepper are cooked with traditional Christmas vegetables.
Serves 8
carrots 600g
red cabbage 400g
butter 3 tbsp
olive oil 1 tbsp
red chillies 3
Sichuan peppercorns 1 tsp
bay leaf 1
cinnamon 1 small stick
freshly squeezed orange juice 200ml
Cut the carrots on an angle into 2cm slices. Cut the red cabbage into 2cm x 2cm pieces.
Add the butter and oil to a large frying pan and sauté the chilli and Sichuan pepper for 2-3 minutes, then add the carrots, cabbage, bay and cinnamon and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the orange juice and some salt and pepper, then cook down for about 7-10 minutes (depending on how well done you want the carrots – taste for texture). Just before serving, season to taste.

Wine match

Morrisons Signature Douro White, Portugal 2014 (£7.99)

With just enough body and depth to cope with the fuller flavours in this range of dishes, and even a hint of pepper spice to go with that Sichuan heat, this is a very pretty crowd-pleasing blend of local white grape varieties with aromas of white flowers, tropical-meets-green-apple ripeness, and limey refreshment.

Source: the guardian

---
---