Christmas is coming around fast, and before we know it, streets will be filled with twinkling lights, houses with Christmas trees, and the radio will be playing all our favourite festive songs. By now, most people have probably already had their first mince pie, sausage roll, or Santa-shaped chocolate – shops have had them on the shelves since October – and are slowly starting to feel the Christmas spirit.
As we draw further into the Christmas season, people will be starting to think about Christmas parties and get-togethers. With the pressure on from their colleagues or friends to find the best restaurant, they’ll begin their search for a Christmas feast to remember.
When it comes to planning your Christmas menu, whether you’re doing a full set-menu or just a few festive dishes, it’s important to consider every single element, from the meat, to the side dishes, to the gravy. Most people expect to see turkey featured on the menu in one way or another, but what will help to set your offering apart are the side dishes.
We’ve put together five unique recipes, featuring traditional Christmas flavours but with an added twist, that we’re sure will excite and delight your customers this festive season.
MARMALADE ROASTED CARROTS & THYME
- 450g carrots
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp orange marmalade with bits
- Fresh thyme
- Prepare your carrots (long ones with their tops and bottoms still on look best) and add to a roasting tin with the oil, marmalade, salt and pepper, 5-10 sprigs of thyme, and coat evenly.
- Roast in the oven for 30 minutes at 180 degrees, or until goey and sticky, with just a little crunch still left in them.
- Serve piled high, with a little extra fresh thyme (remove any that’s gone wooden from baking).
- 500g parsnips
- 80g grated parmesan (plus a little extra)
- 1 tbsp oil
- 4 tbsp polenta
- Peel your parsnips and cut into equal chunks.
- Place into a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes until just soft then drain and set aside.
- In a bowl, combine the polenta and grated parmesan.
- In a separate bowl, cover your parsnips in olive oil and salt and pepper, coat well.
- One by one add them to the polenta and parmesan mix, coating generously.
- Place the coated parsnips on an oiled tray and roast 25-30 mins on 180 degrees or until lightly brown and crunchy.
BRUSSEL SPROUTS WITH PANCETTA, CHESTNUTS, CRANBERRIES & LEMON ZEST
- 350g brussel sprouts
- 100g pancetta
- 70g chopped, cooked chestnuts
- 1 tbsp butter
- ½ tbsp olive oil
- ½ zest of a lemon
- 40g dried cranberries
- Slice your brussel sprouts (roughly 3mm thickness).
- In a pan, cook your pancetta, then set aside, preserving the fat in the pan.
- To the pan, add the oil, followed by your brussel sprouts.
- Saute for a few minutes, then add in the chopped chestnuts, and the pancetta, followed by the butter.
- Continue to fry until cooked, then finish with the cranberries and lemon zest.
MAPLE SWEET POTATO WITH ROSEMARY & PARMESAN PECANS
- 600g sweet potato (2 large)
- 50g pecans / halved / crushed
- 1 tbsp grated parmesan
- 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
- 1 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp butter
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper (more depending on spice level)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- Pierce your sweet potatoes and place in a 180 degree oven for roughly 45 minutes or until soft inside.
- Meanwhile, add your pecans to a pan with some olive oil and place in the oven to toast for 5-10 minutes, keeping an eye that they don’t burn.
- Add the chopped rosemary and parmesan, continue to roast for another 5-10 minutes.
- Place the toasted nuts aside (You can do this in a frying pan but I find the parmesan congeals quite a lot).
- Once cooked and cool enough to handle, remove the potato from the skins and place into a bowl.
- Add 1 tbsp butter, the cayenne, maple syrup, salt and pepper, and mash then set aside.
- To serve, top your mash with the rosemary, parmesan pecans.
ALMOND & APRICOT STUFFING
- 450g pork sausage meat
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 2 sticks of celery, chopped finely
- 80g flaked almonds
- 100g breadcrumbs
- 80g dried apricots, chopped
- 2 tsps fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 egg
- Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix together.
- To check the seasoning before cooking, fry a little in a pan.
- Once happy, form equal balls (16-20 depending on size).
- Place into a preheated 180 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden on top and cooked all the way through.