wWhen it comes to strict Christmas food traditions, I have very few. However, there are some principles that I return to every year. One is to make sure that the side dishes Always Neat enough that the center bird does not overly rule the perch. Also, I’m not keen on an abundance of thick, brown traditional gravy to hold the meal together. Without it, in my opinion, there’s room for a host of other tasty and interesting ingredients to bring the party along. This is how it should be, isn’t it? Everyone is welcome.
Yagi Marinated Steamed Chicken With Parsnip (pictured above)
The inspiration for this comes from West Africa spices The spice blend, which is traditionally used in making to the water Popular street food skewers. I’ve replaced the usual accompaniment to the peanut cake with roasted peanuts and wholesome peppers for dried green peppercorns, which are more readily available. If you haven’t done this before, don’t worry about tossing the chicken (there are many video tutorials online: watch one and go for it, or ask your butcher to do it for you). If you want to go ahead, marinate the chicken and make the peanut crumble the day before. And by all means, swap the chicken for the festive turkey; It will take longer to cook, so cover it with plenty of foil so the marinade doesn’t burn.
to equip 15-20 minutes
cook 1 hour 15 minutes
1 large chicken (2 kg), spatchcocked – keep the spine
2 onionspeeled, cut in half, then each half cut into 3 wedges
1 garlic onionAnd the cloves are separated and peeled
650 grams of white carrotscut in half lengthwise, then cut in half again on the diagonal
500 ml chicken broth
2 teaspoons of flour
2⅔ tablespoon (10 grams) parsley leaves;finely chopped
40 grams of roasted salted Peanuts
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
2½ teaspoon garlic granules
½ teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 teaspoon dried green peppercoarsely ground in a mortar
Half a teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper
80 grams of unsalted butterat room temperature
1 lemongrated finely, to get 1 tsp, then juiced, to get 1½ tbsp
Sea salt is fine
100 grams of salted Roasted peanuts
¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
Half a teaspoon of garlic granules
¾ teaspoon ground cayenne
Half a teaspoon of soft sugar
Preheat oven to 220°C (Fan 200°C) / 425°F / Gas 7.
First make the marinade. Place the first 7 ingredients in a food processor and blend until the nuts are the size of couscous grains. Add the butter, lemon zest, juice, and 1 teaspoon of the salt, and mix well until well combined.
Place the cooked chicken breast side down on a board, rub the seasoned butter mixture under the skin (be gentle, so it doesn’t split), then spread the rest all over the outside of the bird.
Place reserved spine, onion, garlic, parsnip, broth, and 1 teaspoon salt in a large high-sided baking dish and set rack on top. Place chicken, skin side up, on rack, and roast for 55 minutes, until golden and dark in places. Take it out of the oven and leave it aside for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, place all of the peanut crumb ingredients in a large bowl of a food processor with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and mix until the nuts are the size of couscous grains, then invert into a bowl.
Lift the chicken off its rack and place it on a plate, discarding the backbone, then transfer the roasted parsnips and half of the onion to a plate. Carefully pour the juices from the pan and the rest of the onion and garlic into a large jug, then return the parsnip and onion mixture to the pan. Turn the grill on its highest setting and grill the parsnip mixture, turning occasionally, for seven to 10 minutes, until golden and slightly charred in places; Watch it carefully, so it doesn’t catch and burn.
Meanwhile, place a small saucepan over medium-high heat and spoon in three tablespoons of the fat that will now rise to the top of the cooking jug. Stir in the flour and cook for two or three minutes, until it begins to smell nutty. Stirring all the time, pour off the cooking juices from the jug and any juices that have collected under the chicken. Cook for 10 minutes, until the broth has thickened slightly and the fat has risen to the top, then it is poured into a serving pitcher.
Arrange the onions and parsnips around the chicken, sprinkle with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the parsley-peanut crumb mixture, and serve with the broth and remaining crumb mixture on the side.
Savoy cabbage with crispy pancetta slices and apple juice mint dressing
Crunchy apples, fresh dressing and briskly cooked cabbage make a very welcome addition to the Christmas table, not least because it cuts out all the usual richness. Make it while the roast bird is resting, or cook it an hour or two ahead and spread it over the apple-pancetta mixture just before serving. For vegetarians, ditch the meat pie and put some crumbled chestnuts instead.
to equip 20 minutes
cook 25 minutes
serves 4 as a side
100 gr Pancetta cubes
10 sprigs of fresh thyme, Plus 1½ teaspoons chopped leaves
2½ tablespoons of olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
6 green onions (100 gm), whites, cut into 1 cm lengths, vegetables, thinly sliced
½ teaspoon dried mint
10 g of fresh mint leavescoarsely chopped
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 green applehalved, cored and very thinly sliced into half circles (use a mandolin, if you have one)
1 Savoy cabbage (800g), cored, then separate into leaves – tear any larger leaves in half and cut and discard any thick stems (630g)
150 ml apple juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Place the pancetta, thyme sprigs, 1 teaspoon oil, and a heavy grind of pepper in a large skillet over medium heat and cook, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, until the pancetta is lightly coloured. Add the scallion whites, dried mint, and 1/8th of a teaspoon of the salt and cook, stirring frequently, for another five minutes, until the scallions are golden and crunchy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta mixture to a medium bowl, leaving the fat in the skillet.
Mix the green onion slices in a bowl with the fresh mint, apple cider vinegar, and set aside.
Return the skillet to medium-high heat, and once hot, add one-third of the cabbage, 1/2 teaspoon oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until the cabbage is al dente. Slightly wilted, charred and perfectly cooked. Transfer to a plate with lip, repeat twice with remaining cabbage, then flip back into skillet, and cook, stirring, for 2 more minutes.
Turn the cabbage mixture onto the lip-covered dish, return the pan to medium heat, add the apple juice and thyme leaves, and let it boil for five minutes, until reduced, thickened, and reduced to a syrup. Remove from heat, stir in mustard, then pour over cabbage. Spread the apple and pancetta mixture on top and serve hot.
Carrots cooked in turmeric in ghee with crispy curry leaves
Another vegetable side dish on the stovetop, so great for freeing up oven space on the big day. If you want to go ahead, prepare the carrots the day before, refrigerate and reheat just before serving; Keep the chilies and crunchy curry leaves at room temperature.
to equip 10 minutes
cook 15 minutes
85 grams of ghee
1 green pepperCut into thin slices at an angle
30 fresh curry leaves
1 kilo of carrotspeeled and cut at an angle into 4 cm pieces
30 grams of fresh ginger piecePeeled and finely grated
Half a teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 tablespoon of light brown sugar
Sea salt is fine
¼ teaspoon crushed black pepper
½ teaspoon Urfa chili flakes
1 lemoncut in half
Put the ghee in a large saucepan with a lid, heat over medium-high heat, and once the ghee is hot, add the chili peppers and cook for a minute until they color slightly. Stir in the curry leaves and cook for 30 seconds, until green and translucent, then strain through a small heatproof sieve set over a small bowl and return the ghee to the pan.
Return the pot to the heat and add the carrots, ginger, turmeric, sugar, 1 tablespoon and three-quarters of the salt, and stir to mix. Pop the lid on the skillet and simmer for seven to 10 minutes, flipping once halfway through, until the carrots are just cooked through but still have a light bite (if you prefer them softer, give them a few minutes longer).
Remove the saucepan from the heat, pour in 60ml of warm water, and stir the pan until the water and the ghee emulsify. Pour the carrots into a serving dish, pour the liquid from the pan over, spread over the mixture of curry leaves and chili peppers, and sprinkle over the black pepper and Urva pepper. Serve it with a squeeze of lemon.
Fiona Beckett drinks match
Less than £10
Specially selected French Roussan 2022 £7.99 Aldi, 13% off. Freshly released, lush pineapple, white rune that would work well with chickens.
Châteauneuf du Bab Parishes 2021 £14.99 Lidl, 14% off. If you want a flashy bottle on the table, it’s hard to beat châteauneuf-du-pape. It can handle a little spice, too.