A Round Up of Delicious Christmas Main Dishes

Tuesday 24 December 2013

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My Christmas Lunch is pretty much all sorted now, except for any sides that I may want to cook, and the dessert. I thought today  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.  I do so hope that you 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.

These are somewhat traditional but each has a bit of an interesting twist added . . . all are, once again, simple and easy to execute, oh . . . and quite, quite delicious!

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*Herb Crusted Rib of Beef*
Serves 6
Printable Recipe

In my opinion the rib of beef is the tastiest cut. This recipe provides for a tasty herbed crust and a delicious red wine sauce for serving.

For the herb crust:
4 slices of sturdy bread, crusts removed, torn into pieces
2 large handfuls of flat leaf parsley
1 TBS fresh thyme leaves
2 TBS olive oil

For the beef and sauce:
a six bone standing rib beef roast (3.5 kg or 7 lb. 14 ounces) trimmed of any excess fat
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and cut into slivers
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1 1/4 inch pieces
1 leek, white part only, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 celery stalk, trimmed and cut into 2 inch lengths
6 garlic cloves, peeled
2 TBS olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
60g Dijon mustard (1/4 cup)
2 bay leaves, torn
250ml red wine (1 cup. Always use a wine that you would enjoy drinking!)
500ml of chicken stock ( 2 cups)

Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.

Remove the beef from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before cooking. Cut narrow slits with a sharp knife in between the rib bones and slice the garlic slivers into these.

To make the herb crust, place all the crust ingredients into a food processor and blend until finely chopped and well combines. Set aside.

Scatter the carrot, leek, onion, celery and peeled garlic on the bottom of a roasting tin. Place the roast beef on top. Drizzle with the oil and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and spread the fat surface with the mustard. Press the herb crust onto this. Reduce the oven temperature to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Return the beef to the oven and roast for a further 1 1/2 to 2 hours for medium doneness, based on cooking for 20 minutes per 500g (1 lb 2 ounces) of meat. Transfer to a place, cover loosely with foil and let rest in a warm place for at least 20 minutes.

To prepare the red wine sauce,lace the roasting tin on top of the stove over medium heat. Add the bayleaves and wine, scraping any residue up from the bottom along with any caramelized vegetables. Bring to a simmer and then reduce to 80ml or 1/3 cup. Add the stock and any meat juices which have collected on the plate where your meat is resting. Bring to the simmer and cook for about 10 minutes or until reduced in half. Strain into a serving jug, discarding any solids. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

Slice the beef into six ribs and serve on heated plates along with your desired vegetables and the red wine sauce.

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*Mustard and Orange Glazed Ham*
Serves 12
Printable Recipe

I don't know anyone who is not fond of glazed ham. It's pretty and tastes fabulous. It's also really easy to do, and the leftovers are great served cold as well as in sandwiches and casseroles.

6 kg cooked ham (13 1/2 pounds)
250ml of freshly squeezed orange juice (1 cup)
140g of soft light brown sugar (3/4 cup packed)
1 TBS Dijon mustard
175g honey (1/2 cup)
2 tsp soy sauce
2 TBS Grand Marnier
whole cloves

Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6.

Combine the orange juice, sugar, mustard, honey, soy sauce and Grand Marnier in a bowl, mixing all together well.

Using a small sharp knife, cut through the rind around the shank end of the ham. Remove by running your thumb around the edge of the cut under the rind, and then easing your hand in between the rind and the fat. Carefully lift the rind from the fat in one piece. Score diagonal cuts into the fat at 1 1/2 inch intervals, forming a diamond pattern. (Try not to cut all the way though to the ham.) Spread half of the glaze over the ham with a palette knife and press a whole clove into the centre of each diamond.

Place the ham, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting tin and pour the water into the roasting tin. Cover securely with a layer of foil (make sure it doesn't touch the ham). Roast for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining glaze. Increase the oven temperature to 201*C/415*F/ gas mark 6 -7. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes longer, or until the surface is lightly caramelized and the ham is golden brown. Allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving.

*Roast Turkey with Sage and Onion Butter*
Serves 8 with leftovers
Printable Recipe

Moist and delicious turkey with traditional flavours.

15 1/2 pound fresh turkey
2 onions, peeled and halved
1 lemon quartered
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 ounces soft butter (a generous 1/4 cup)
3 TBS finely chopped fresh sage
2 TBS plain flour
200ml (7 fluid ounces) Marsala wine
(can use Madiera)
14 to 18 fluid ounces of hot chicken stock (a generous 2 cups)
1 dessertspoon of cranberry jelly

Heat the oven to 170*C/325*F/gas mark 304. Place the turkey in a large roasting tin. Tuck 3 of the onion halves and the lemon into the cavity. Season inside well with salt and pepper. Cover the roasting tin tightly with foil, making sure you leave plenty of space for the air to circulate around the turkey, but making sure the foil is tightly placed so that no steam can escape. Roast for 4 hours.

While the turkey is roasting, finely chop the remaining onion half and mix it with the butter and sage. Remove the turkey at the end of the 4 hours. Increase the oven temperature to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Brush the turkey all over with the sage and onion butter. Return to the oven and roast for an additional 45 minutes, uncovered, until crisp and golden brown. Transfer to a serving platter and loosely tent with foil to keep warm. Allow to rest for half an hour while you make the gravy.

Tip the juices out of the pan into a bowl. Allow to settle. Skim any fat off the top, reserving 2 TBS of it. Place the 2 TBS of fat back in the roasting tin. Place the tin over medium low heat. Cook and stir to scrap up the solids from the bottom. Stir in the flour, continuing to scrape the bottom of the pan for about 2 minutes. Add the marsala or Madiera and bring to the boil. Measure the reserved turkey juices. You should have about 500ml (about 2 cups). Make up with hot chicken stock to give you the required amount. Pour into the tin with the cooked flour. Cook and stir, bringing it to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for several minutes, then whisk in the cranberry jelly. Keep warm until ready to serve.


  1. wonderful selection Marie, will you have company for Christmas dinner?

  2. There will just be Todd and I, and Mitzie this year Laurie, although I am sending Dinner over to our friend Doreen and her carer, Billy. Boxing day the three missionaries are coming! Merry Christmas Laurie!

  3. Have a wonderful evening:)and a Peaceful Beautiful Christmas..


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