The Christmas dinner is a very special annual meal, and one with a hugely strong sense of tradition attached. You know how it goes - turkey, veg, sprouts. But given that it’s likely to be a very different Christmas in what’s been a very strange year, maybe you’re in the mood for doubling down and having a little change. If so, that’s where we can help. We’ve got an expansive range of butchers knives and equipment to help you prepare a slightly different Christmas meal this year - and what’s more, we’ve got four great suggestions for alternatives to turkey too.
Roast beef holds a particularly treasured place in our national consciousness here in the UK. No surprise there - it’s actually one of our national dishes, so in many ways it’s similar to turkey in that it’s got the same strong sense of tradition attached. There’s no shortage of creative recipes you can try for it, but it also works perfectly with simple, uncomplicated sides like steamed carrots, or roast potatoes.
If you are considering a roast beef for your Christmas or Boxing Day meal, it’s worth looking out for a cut in a dark red colour, as that’s a good indication of decent ageing. What’s more, a thick covering of fat is another desirable touch, as it adds extra flavour and prevents the meat from drying out too much when cooking. When you take it out of the oven, set it out and cover it loosely with foil, and leave it to rest for 20 minutes. This allows the muscle fibres to relax, as they’ll have contracted during cooking. The end result will be a particularly tender bit of meat.
Baked glazed ham
Another traditional favourite. You’ll start off with a gammon (a raw, cured bacon leg cut), which is only referred to as ham once it’s actually been cooked. This dish is thought to have originated in the Cotswolds area of England centuries ago, and in the it’s grown to become a hugely popular Christmas and Easter dish in all the aeons since. It’s a wonderfully tasty dish whether served hot in thick slices with a humble side of roast potatoes, or in cold thin slices for sandwiches on Boxing Day.
Some hams are exceptionally salty, and will need to be soaked before cooking to remove their saltiness. When you’re procuring your Christmas ham, it’s best to check with your butcher or supermarket as to whether you’ll need to do that. Lots of supermarkets in particular use a milder cure, which won’t necessarily need to be soaked.
You might find it useful to prepare this dish a day or so in advance, and store it in the fridge fully intact. Try to avoid cutting it until the very last moment, or it can end up losing its colour.
This is a slightly more unorthodox choice. Just over half a century ago, it was a major fixture of Christmas dinners all over the country. But by the 1960s, it started to be considered a little ‘common’, at which point the turkey overtook it as the nation’s most popular Christmas bird. But snobbery aside, there are still all sorts of reasons why the goose is an excellent choice for Christmas dinner. For starters, it’s juicier than a turkey, with succulent flesh that has a highly distinctive flavour. It’s an especially good choice for smaller groups - as so many of us are this year! - as it will comfortably feed between six to eight people.
Duck is another bird that might not be the first to spring to mind when you’re thinking about Christmas dinner, but just like the goose, it’s a frequently underestimated option! As a smaller bird, it’s also perfect for groups of six to eight people, easily providing enough to feed everyone - and with a minimum of waste, too.
It’s also fattier than turkey, which means it’s less likely to dry out, and has a thicker skin - which ultimately makes for a crispier meat. Not only that, but it’s actually a lot quicker to cook than turkey, too - so if you’re pressed for time and in the mood for something different, a duck might be just what you’re after! Personally, we’re huge fans of cooking duck with orange; it’s packed full of intriguing flavours, for a very memorable Christmas meal.
And if you’re looking for some of the best butchers knives and tools to help you prepare the meat itself, you’re in exactly the right place. Here at Butchers Equipment Warehouse we stock a huge range of butchers knives and sharpeners, as well as a broad choice of butchers blocks and stands, ideal for any private or commercial kitchen. If you need any advice or you’re looking for anything in particular, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01254 427761. We’re here to help!