When it involves strict Christmas meals traditions, I’ve only a few. There are, nevertheless, some rules I return to yearly. One is ensuring that the aspect dishes are all the time snazzy sufficient that the central hen doesn’t overly rule the roost. Additionally, I’m not eager on an abundance of conventional thick, brown gravy to carry the meal collectively. With out it, to my thoughts, there’s house for a number of different extra scrumptious and thrilling elements to attend the occasion. And that’s the way it must be, proper? Everybody made welcome.
Yaji-spiced spatchcocked hen with parsnips (pictured high)
The inspiration for this comes from West African yaji spice combine, which is historically used to make suya skewers, a preferred avenue meals. I’ve swapped the standard peanut cake accompaniment for roast peanuts and the selim pepper for dried inexperienced peppercorns, that are extra simply obtainable. In the event you’ve not performed it earlier than, don’t be daunted by spatchcocking the hen (there are quite a few instructional videos online: watch one and go for it, or ask a butcher to do it for you). If you wish to get forward, marinate the hen and make the peanut crumble the day earlier than. And by all means swap the hen for a festive turkey; it’s going to take for much longer to cook dinner, although, so cowl it with loads of foil so the marinade doesn’t burn.
Prep 15-20 min
Cook dinner 1 hr 15 min
1 giant hen (2kg), spatchcocked – preserve the spine
2 onions, peeled, minimize in half, then every half minimize into 3 wedges
1 garlic bulb, cloves separated and peeled
650g parsnips, minimize in half lengthways, then minimize in half once more on the diagonal
500ml hen inventory
2 tsp plain flour
2⅔ tbsp (10g) parsley leaves, finely chopped
For the marinade
40g salted roast peanuts
1 tsp floor ginger
2¼ tsp smoked paprika
2½ tsp garlic granules
½ tsp cracked black pepper
1 tsp dried inexperienced peppercorns, coarsely floor in a mortar
¾ tsp floor cayenne pepper
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 lemon, zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp, then juiced, to get 1½ tbsp
Superb sea salt
For the peanut crumble
100g salted roast peanuts
¼ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp garlic granules
¾ tsp floor cayenne
¾ tsp caster sugar
Warmth the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/fuel 7.
First make the marinade. Put the primary seven elements in a meals processor and pulse till the nuts have damaged all the way down to the dimensions of couscous grains. Add the butter, lemon zest and juice, and a teaspoon of salt, and pulse till effectively blended.
Put the spatchcocked hen breast aspect up on a board, rub the spiced butter combine below the pores and skin (be mild, so it doesn’t rip), then unfold the remainder all around the outdoors of the hen.
Put the reserved spine, onions, garlic, parsnips, inventory and a teaspoon of salt in a big, high-sided oven tray and set a rack on high of them. Lay the hen pores and skin aspect up on the rack, then roast for 55 minutes, till golden and darkish in locations. Take away from the oven and put aside to relaxation for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, put all of the peanut crumble elements within the giant bowl of a meals processor with a quarter-teaspoon of salt, pulse till the nuts are the dimensions of couscous grains, then tip right into a bowl.
Carry the hen off its rack and on to a platter, discard the spine, then switch the roast parsnips and half the onions to a plate. Fastidiously pour the tray juices, the remaining onions and the garlic into a big jug, then return the parsnip-and-onion combine to the tray. Activate the grill to its highest setting, then grill the parsnip combine, turning it often, for seven to 10 minutes, till golden and barely charred in locations; preserve a beady eye on it, so it doesn’t catch and burn.
In the meantime, put a small saucepan on a medium-high warmth and spoon in three tablespoons of the fats that can by now have risen to the highest of the jug of cooking juices. Stir within the flour, and cook dinner for 2 or three minutes, till it begins smelling barely nutty. Stirring all of the whereas, pour within the cooking juices from the jug and any which have pooled below the resting hen. Cook dinner for 10 minutes, till the gravy thickens barely and the fats rises to the highest, then pour right into a serving jug.
Organize the onions and parsnips across the hen, sprinkle over a tablespoon and a half of the peanut crumble combination and the parsley, and serve with the gravy and the remaining crumble combine on the aspect.
Savoy cabbage with crisp pancetta and cider-and-mint dressing
The crunchy apple, contemporary dressing and quick-cooked cabbage make this a really welcome addition to the Christmas desk, not least as a result of it cuts proper by way of all the standard richness. Make it whereas the roast hen is resting, or cook dinner it an hour or two forward and scatter on the apple and pancetta combine simply earlier than serving. For vegetarians, ditch the pancetta and crisp up some crumbled chestnuts as a substitute.
Prep 20 min
Cook dinner 25 min
Serves 4 as a aspect
100g diced pancetta
10 sprigs contemporary thyme, plus 1½ tsp picked leaves
2½ tbsp olive oil
Superb sea salt and black pepper
6 spring onions (100g), whites minimize into 1cm lengths, greens thinly sliced
½ tsp dried mint
10g contemporary mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 inexperienced apple, halved, cored and really thinly sliced into semi-circles (use a mandoline, when you’ve got one)
1 savoy cabbage (800g), cored, then separated into leaves – tear any bigger leaves in half and minimize off and discard any thick stems (630g)
1 tbsp dijon mustard
Put the pancetta, thyme sprigs, a teaspoon of oil and a heavy grind of pepper in a big saute pan on a medium warmth, and cook dinner, stirring usually, for 10 minutes, till the pancetta is evenly colored. Stir within the spring onion whites, dried mint and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt, and cook dinner, stirring incessantly, for 5 minutes extra, till the spring onions are golden and the pancetta crisp. Utilizing a slotted spoon, switch the pancetta combine to a medium bowl, leaving the fats behind within the pan.
Combine the sliced spring onion greens in a bowl with the contemporary mint, vinegar and apple, then put aside.
Return the pan to a medium-high warmth and, as soon as it’s sizzling, add a 3rd of the cabbage, a teaspoon and a half of oil and a quarter-teaspoon of salt, and cook dinner, stirring often, for 5 minutes, till the cabbage is somewhat wilted, charred and simply cooked by way of. Switch to a platter with a lip, repeat twice extra with the remaining cabbage, then tip all of it again into the pan, and cook dinner, stirring, for 2 minutes extra.
Tip the cabbage combine on to the lipped platter, return the pan to a medium warmth, then add the cider and thyme leaves, and go away to bubble away for 5 minutes, till diminished, thickened and nearly syrupy. Take off the warmth, stir within the mustard, then pour all around the cabbage. Scatter the apple and pancetta combination on high and serve heat.
Turmeric ghee-braised carrots with crisp curry leaves
One other stove-top vegetable aspect dish right here, so nice for liberating up oven house on the large day. If you wish to get forward, make the carrots the day earlier than, chill and reheat simply earlier than serving; preserve the chillies and crisp curry leaves at room temperature, although.
Prep 10 min
Cook dinner 15 min
1 inexperienced chilli, thinly sliced on an angle
30 contemporary curry leaves
1kg carrots, peeled and minimize on an angle into 4cm items
30g piece contemporary ginger, peeled and finely grated
½ tsp floor turmeric
1 tbsp smooth gentle brown sugar
Superb sea salt
¼ tsp cracked black pepper
½ tsp urfa chilli flakes
1 lime, minimize in half
Put the ghee in a big saucepan for which you’ve a lid, activate the warmth to medium-high and, as soon as the fats is sizzling, add the chilli and cook dinner for a minute, till evenly colored. Stir within the curry leaves, cook dinner for 30 seconds, till deeply inexperienced and translucent, then pressure by way of a small heatproof sieve set over a small bowl and return the ghee to the pan.
Return the pan to the warmth, add the carrots, ginger, turmeric, sugar and a teaspoon and three-quarters of salt, and stir to mix. Pop the lid on the pan and go away to cook dinner for seven to 10 minutes, stirring as soon as midway, till the carrots are cooked by way of, however nonetheless have a slight chunk (in the event you like them softer, give them a couple of minutes longer).
Take off the warmth, pour in 60ml heat water, then swirl the pan round in order that the water and ghee emulsify. Spoon the carrots on to a serving plate, pour the liquid from the pan excessive, scatter over the chilli and curry leaf combination, and sprinkle over the black pepper and urfa chilli. Serve with the lime for squeezing on high.
Fiona Beckett’s drinks match
Specifically Chosen French Roussanne 2022 £7.99 Aldi, 13%. Newly launched, lush, pineappley, Rhône white that will work very well with the hen.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape Les Paroisses 2021 £14.99 Lidl, 14%. In order for you a showy bottle to placed on the desk, it’s onerous to beat a châteauneuf-du-pape. It will possibly deal with a little bit of spice, too.