Planning your Christmas menu? Let yourself be inspired by this selection of wonderful Christmas dinner recipes.

Jamie’s old English Christmas rub from Jamie Oliver

Just sprinkle this mix over veg for a zesty twist on old favouritesrub

Preparation time: 10 mins
Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 allspice berries
  • 2 tablespoons fennel seeds
  • 8 tablespoons sea salt
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • ½ nutmeg

 

Method

1. Use a speed peeler to peel 4 good-sized strips of zest from the orange and lemon. Add these to a mortar with the bay leaves, allspice berries, fennel seeds and a pinch of salt. Crumble in the cinnamon stick, then pound the lot with the pestle until it’s well broken down. You’ll have to get stuck in as this will take a few minutes! If you’re feeling lazy you could use a food processor, but I personally think the results are better if you do it the old-fashioned way.

2. Once you’ve got a rough powder (don’t worry too much if there are still a few bigger bits left), add the rosemary and thyme leaves and pound again until these are bashed up, too. Finally, add the rest of the sea salt, grate in the nutmeg and give it all a good mix with a fork. The rub will keep in an airtight container for a couple of weeks.

 

Melty Mushroom Wellington by Barney Desmazery from BBC Good Food

Preparation time: 30 mins
Cooking time: 50 mins
Serves: 4

wellingtonIngredients

  • 4 large field mushrooms
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • about 400g/14oz spinach leaves
  • a dusting of flour
  • 1 tbsp picked thyme leaves
  • 500g block all-butter puff pastry
  • 140g Stilton, sliced
  • 1 egg, beaten

 

Method

1. Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan and sizzle the mushrooms for 3-4 mins on each side until golden and cooked through – add a drop more oil if needed. Lift the mushrooms out onto kitchen paper to drain.

2. Place the same pan back on the heat with the rest of the oil. Fry the garlic for a moment, add the spinach to the pan, then cook for 2-3 mins over a high heat until completely wilted. Season with salt and pepper, then tip the spinach into a large sieve to drain thoroughly.

3. On a lightly floured surface scattered with the thyme leaves, roll the pastry out to the thickness of a £1 coin. Using a saucer and a larger-size plate, cut out 4 circles about 5cm wider than the mushrooms (for the bottoms) and 4 circles about 10cm wider (for the tops), re-rolling the trimmings if you need to.

4. Place the 4 smaller circles on a baking tray and top each with a quarter of the spinach, making sure the pile of spinach isn’t wider than the mushrooms. Top the spinach with a slice of cheese, then a mushroom, smooth-side up, and top the mushroom with another slice of cheese. Brush the border to each circle with egg, then gently stretch the larger circle over the mushroom, trying not to trap any air, then press the edges together with a fork. Trim the edges with a knife if you want, then brush each generously with egg. Bake for 40 mins until golden, then leave to cool for a few mins before serving.

 

Ultimate Roast Potatoes by Angela Nilsen from BBC Good Food

roast potatoesPreparation time: 15-20 mins
Cooking time: 50 mins
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 1kg Maris Piper potato
  • 100g duck or goose fat fat (for a luxurious taste), or 100ml/3½fl oz olive oil
  • 2 tsp flour
  • Maldon salt, to serve

 

Method

1. Put a roasting tin in the oven (one big enough to take the potatoes in a single layer) and heat oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Peel the potatoes and cut each into 4 even-sized pieces if they are medium size, 2-3 if smaller (5cm pieces). Drop the potatoes into a large pan and pour in enough water to barely cover them. Add salt, then wait for the water to boil. As soon as the water reaches a full rolling boil, lower the heat, put your timer on and simmer the potatoes uncovered, reasonably vigorously, for 2 mins. Meanwhile, put your choice of fat into the hot roasting tin and heat it in the oven for a few mins, so it’s really hot.

2. Drain the potatoes in a colander. Now it’s time to rough them up a bit – shake the colander back and forth a few times to fluff up the outsides. Sprinkle with the flour, and give another shake or two so they are evenly and thinly coated. Carefully put the potatoes into the hot fat – they will sizzle as they go in – then turn and roll them around so they are coated all over. Spread them in a single layer making sure they have plenty of room.

3. Roast the potatoes for 15 mins, then take them out of the oven and turn them over. Roast for another 15 mins and turn them over again. Put them back in the oven for another 10-20 mins, or however long it takes to get them really golden and crisp. The colouring will be uneven, which is what you want. Scatter with salt and serve straight away.

 

Mustard and thyme-crusted rib of beef by Anna Burges-Lumsden from Delicious Magazine

Serve this special herby hunk of beef to feed a rabble on a special occasion.

Preparation time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 2¼ hours, plus resting
Serves: 8beef

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 large onions, roughly chopped
  • 3 large carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • Bunch fresh thyme, leaves picked
  • Three-rib (about 3.5kg) of beef, at room temperature (see tip)
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, plus 1 tsp
  • 100g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 300ml red wine
  • 50ml port
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 1 tsp redcurrant jelly

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Mix the oil, chopped veg, garlic and half the thyme in a large roasting tin and place the beef in the centre.

2. For the crust, mix 1 tbsp of the Dijon mustard with the breadcrumbs, rosemary and remaining thyme, and season. Brush 1 tbsp mustard over the fat of the beef, then press the crust onto it. Cover with well-oiled foil and roast for 20 minutes.

3. Add half the wine and a good splash of water to the tin, turn down the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4 and roast for 1 hour 20 minutes, adding more water occasionally.

4. Take off the foil and roast for a further 20 minutes to brown the crust. To check it is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part for 30 seconds, then lay it against the back of your hand. If it feels cool, the meat is rare; if warm, it is medium-rare; if hot, it is medium. Remove from the tin and rest, covered with foil, for 20 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, place the tin on the hob, add the port and remaining wine and bubble for a few minutes. Add the stock, 1 tsp mustard and the jelly and bubble for 5-10 minutes, stirring in the sticky bits and squeezing out the flavour from the veg. Strain into a gravy boat, allow to settle and skim off the excess fat from the surface.

6. Carve the beef and serve with the gravy, Yorkshire puddings, roast potatoes, horseradish sauce and peas.

Chef’s tip

Ask your butcher to remove the chine bone from the rib of beef but to tie it back on. It then acts as a trivet, keeping the beef nice and juicy, but still easy to carve. The cooking times in this recipe are for medium-rare beef. If your joint weighs more or less than 3.5kg (or you prefer the meat more well done) adjust the cooking time accordingly.

 

Brussels sprouts gratin with bacon, cream and almonds by Sophie Grigson from BBC Food

Preparation time: less than 30 mins
Cooking time: 20 mins
Serves 8sprouts

Ingredients

  • 900g/2lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 20g/¾oz butter
  • 4 tsp sunflower oil
  • 150g/5oz bacon lardons (or rindless back bacon, cut into short fat strips)
  • 20g/¾oz flaked almonds
  • 400ml/14fl oz double cream
  • 2½ tsp lemon juice
  • 5½ tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 4 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

2. Place the sprouts into a saucepan of simmering salted water and cook for 4-5 minutes, until almost, but not quite, cooked. Drain thoroughly, allow to cool slightly, then cut in half.

3. Place the butter and oil into a wide frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon lardons and almonds and sauté for 3-4 minutes, until lightly browned.

4. Add the sprouts and sauté for a further 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.

5. Add the cream and bring the mixture to the boil. Boil for 2-4 minutes, until the cream has reduced to a rich sauce. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

6. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice and spoon into an ovenproof gratin dish.

7. Mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan cheese together in a bowl, then sprinkle evenly over the top of the sprout mixture.

8. Place into the oven and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown and the cream visibly boiling.

9. Remove from the oven and serve in the gratin dish (when the dish has cooled slightly).

 

Butternut Squash with Pecans and Blue Cheese by Nigella Lawson from Nigella.com

Cooking time: 30-45 mins
Serves: 6-8

butternut squashIngredients 

  • 2 kilograms butternut squash
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 stalks fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 100 grams pecan nuts
  • 125 grams crumbled Roquefort cheese (or other blue cheese)
  • salt (to taste)
  • pepper (to taste)

 

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7/425ºF.

2. Halve the squash, leaving the skin on, and scoop out the seeds, then cut into 2.5cm / 1 inch cubes; you don’t need to be precise, just keep the pieces uniformly small.

3. Put the squash into a roasting tin with the oil. Strip the leaves from 4 stalks of thyme, and sprinkle over the butternut squash. (If you can’t get fresh thyme, use dried.) Roast in the oven for about 30-45 minutes or until tender.

4. Once out of the oven, remove the squash to a bowl and scatter the pecans and crumble the cheese over it, then toss everything together gently.

5. Check seasoning and add the last of the thyme, torn into small sprigs to decorate.

Additional information – for vegetarians make sure that the blue cheese is one made with vegetarian rennet.