Alternative Christmas Lunch Main Courses Part 1

Wednesday 14 December 2011

With less than two weeks to go you have probably already decided on what you are going to cook for the main course. Most people, of course, will probably have turkey, especially over here in the UK. (We don't do Thanksgiving over here so we aren't all turkied out!)

Not everyone likes turkey though . . . and where Christmas Day falls on a Sunday this year, there are a lot of us who will be going to church Christmas morning and are looking for something which we can cook easily and quickly, but will still be festive and special enough for a celebratory lunch.

I ordered a Simplest Turkey package from Piper's Farm, which is now sitting in my freezer and waiting for the day. My Christmas Lunch is pretty much all sorted, except for any sides that I may want to cook, and the dessert. I thought I would present a variety of alternative ideas from my vast repertoire that I've collected through the years for any of you who are looking for something just a little bit different than the usual Turkey with all the trimmings feast.

I can promise you that all are impressive. All are delicious, and all are very easily executed and require not a whole lot of work. (The most important factor in my books!) Who wants to spend the whole day sweating over a hot stove while everyone else spends the day lounging around cracking nuts and sipping sherry!

I've quite a few ideas for you to choose from, and so I am doing it in two lots. Today I present you with Part 1. Enjoy!

*Roasted Turkey Breast with an Orange, Cranberry and Fig Stuffing*
Serves 6 to 8
Printable Recipe

Cooking just a breast of the turkey is a lot quicker than roasting a whole bird. This tasty roast is spread with a deliciously fruity stuffing, rolled, tied and then roasted to perfection.

1.5 KG boneless turkey breast, with skin intact (a generous 3 pounds)
1 TBS olive oil
125ml dry white wine (1/2 cup)
500ml of chicken stock (2 cups)
80g red currant jelly (1/4 cup)
2 tsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1 quantity of orange, cranberry and fig stuffing (see below)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4.

Pat the turkey breast dry with some paper toweling and place, skin side down, onto a large plastic chopping board. Slice through the thickest part of the breast meat and open it up like a book. (This is called butterflying. Do not cut all the way through to separate completely!) Cover with cling film and bash lightly until it is an even thickness throughout. Spread the prepared stuffing along the centre, leaving a 2 inch border at the outer edge uncovered. Roll up firmly from the short end, tucking in the ends and covering over with the skin. Tie at regular intervals with some butcher's twine.

Place skin side up in a roasting tin and rub with the olive oil. Pour in the wine and 250ml (1 cup) of the stock. Roast for 45 minutes. Pour in the remainder of the stock and roast for a further 20 to 25 minutes, until browned and cooked through. Remove, cover loosely with foil and allow to rest in a warm place for about 20 minutes, while you make the gravy.

Pour any accumulated juices from the roasting tin into a saucepan. Add the red currant jelly and cook, over medium heat, whisking to dissolve the jelly. Stir the cornflour into 1 TBS of cold water to dissolve and then whisk this into the saucepan as well, cooking and stirring for 2 to 3 minutes until slightly thickened.

Remove the string from the turkey breast and cut into thick slices to serve. Serve hot with some of the gravy spooned over each serving.

*Orange, Cranberry and Fig Stuffing*

Makes enough for one chicken,
double the recipe to stuff a turkey

Fruity and delicious!

125ml of freshly squeezed orange juice (1/2 cup)
80g of dried cranberries (2/3 cup)
2 TBS olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 bunch of chopped fresh sage
2 TBS chopped fresh tarragon
50g butter (1 3/4 ounces)
80g of chopped dried figs (2 3/4 ounces)
160g fresh coarse bread crumbs (2 cups)
(You want to use crumbs from a sturdy loaf such as a sour dough bread)
salt and black pepper to taste
1 small free range egg, beaten

Combine the orange juice and cranberries in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the cranberries are tender. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened without browning Stir in the garlic, cinnamon, sage and tarragon Cook for one minute and then add the butter, dried figs and the cranberry mixture. Cook until the figs are tender. Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs. Season to taste with some salt and pepper. Set aside to cool. Once cool, lightly stir in the beaten egg. use to stuff a small chicken, or double the recipe to stuff a turkey.

*Roasted Poussin (Cornish Hen) with a Marmalade and Whisky Sauce*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

Tasty tender little roasted poussin served with a delicious sauce flavoured with whisky, mustard and orange.

250g Orange marmalade (9 ounces)
2 TBS Whiskey
1 TBS Dijon mustard
1 naval orange, cut into 6 wedges
6 small fresh rosemary sprigs
6 poussins (500g each or 1 pound 2 ounces) (cornish hens)
salt and black pepper
500ml of chicken stock (2 cups)
125ml boiling water (1/2 cup)

Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Rinse the birds, pat dry and trim the necks flush with the bodies.

Make the glaze by combining the marmalade, whiskey and mustard in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, over low heat for about 5 minutes, until the marmalade has completely melted and they are all mixed together well. Set aside and keep warm.

Place a wedge of orange and a spring of rosemary into the cavity of each poussin. Truss with butcher's twine and season well with salt and black pepper. Brush the birds with roughly 2/3 of the glaze, reserving the remainder. Place the birds onto a rack in a roasting tin. Pour half of the chicken stock and the boiling water into the bottom of the tin. Roast for 40 to 45 minutes, covering loosely with foil if they begin to brown too quickly. When done the juices should run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the flesh. Remove from the oven and set aside to rest whils you make the sauce, keeping them loosely covered with foil to keep warm.

Pour the juices from the roasting tin into a small saucepan along with the remaining stock and the reserved glaze. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until reduced to a sauce like consistency. Transfer the hot poussins to heated plates, drizzling each with some of the sauce. Serve immediately.

*Roasted Rack of Pork with a Pear Sauce and Rosemary Au Jus*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

Moist and tender rack of pork succulently roasted and served with a delicious pear sauce.

one 6 rib standing rack of pork, about 4 1/2 pounds in weight)
2 TBS olive oil
2 tsp roughly chopped fresh rosemary
1 TBS sea salt
1 onion, peeled and sliced thick
5 springs rosemary
4 conference pears, peeled and quartered (Bosc pears)
80ml of port (1/3 cup)
1/2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
375ml chicken stock (1 1/2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 230*C/450*F/ gas mark 8.

Score the rind of the prok with a sharp utility knife, or ask your butcher to do this for you. Combine the oil, roughly chopped rosemary, and seasalt in a small bowl. Rub all over the pork, rubbing it into the rind really well. Scatter the onion and four of the rosemary springs into the bottom of a roasting tin. Place the pork on top. Roast for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven.

Scatter the slices of pear around the base of the pork. Retutn to the oven and roast for a further 1 3/4 to 2 hours, or until the juices of the pork run clear when pricked with a skewer in the thickest part. Remove from the oven. Place the pork on a heated serving platter. Cover with foil and set aside to keep warm.

To make the pear puree, blend all but six quarter slices of the pears until smooth. Set aside and keep warm.

To make the rosemary au jus, drain off all but 2 TBs of the juices in the roasting tin. Place over medium heat and add the port. Heat through, scraping up all the crispy bits and sediment in the bottom of the tin. Add the remaining rosemary spring and the stock. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes, until reduced to about 3/4 cup. Strain into a beaker. Stir in the finely chopped rosemary and season to taste.

To serve, slice the pork into individual cutlets. Place each onto a heated place. Top with a slice of pear, a spoonful of the puree and a drizzle of the rosemary au jus.

.•*¨`*•. .•*¨`*•. Tune in tommorrow I'll bring you part two, along with and a few Vegetarian alternatives! .•*¨`*•. .•*¨`*•.

Over in The Cottage today a delicious Plum Streusal!


  1. mmmm, wonderful selections Marie, I haven't yet decided, my American daughter and her family are turkied out, we Canadians aren't I mat do both turkey and ham.
    We had a busy day, I hope you are well, and todd.I made shortbread today and thimble cookies yesterday, the big bake off has begun.

  2. Thanks for the ideas Marie! We are turkeyed out, so hubby has asked for prime rib. I never cook this so I'll have to consult some cookbooks. As you mentioned, it will be a challenge to both prepare dinner and be at church. No mid-afternoon meal for us this year.

  3. A FABULOUS and helpful list for alternative meals, thanks Marie! We have been invited to some friends for Christmas Day and they are cooking goose!


Thanks for stopping by. I love to hear from you so do not be shy!

Did you make the recipe as directed? Recipe results are not guaranteed when changes have been made.

Is this comment helpful to other readers? Rude or hateful comments will not be approved. Remember that this website is run by a real person.

Are you here to complain about ads? Please keep in mind that I develop these recipes and provide them to you for free. Advertising helps to defray my cost of doing so, and allows me to continue to post regular fresh content.

Thanks so much for your understanding! I appreciate you!