While all the focus is normally on the turkey and ham this time of year, spare a thought for the true heroes of Christmas dinner, the veggies! The Robin to Batman, the Planeteers to Captain Planet, and of course the Ant to the Dec, or is it the other way around? Either way the veggies complete any well cooked Christmas dinner but often they are regarded more as an after thought than one of the key components. Brussel sprouts normally come out the worst from this sort of conversation but I have to confess that they are one of my favourite veggies not just for Christmas but right throughout the Winter!
When I cook them for everyday use I cut off the stalks, slice them in half and then fry them up on the pan. This process chars them slightly and gives them a real earthy taste. They do need a good bit of time in the pan so I kick them off in a really hot pan, stir fry them for 1-2 minutes and then reduce the heat allowing them to cook through completely. Once they are cooked through you can add all sorts of different ingredients like streaky bacon bits, chopped nuts, Parmesan cheese or for a little sweetness try drizzling them in a little maple syrup.
Normally I always look forward to my mom’s famous perfect Parmesan Parsnips which are par boiled for a fluffy inside and then tossed in grated Parmesan cheese and roasted in the oven to crispy perfection. But this year, because we are headed to Sweden for the big day, I’m roasting my veggies, carrots and parsnips with a little honey and sprinkle of ground cardamom. The Swedes use a lot of cardamom in baking but it goes really well with root vegetables and makes an interesting addition to any Christmas table.
It really wouldn’t be Christmas without the humble spud and there are plenty of ways you can choose to have yours, but the ultimate potatoes do need an extra little touch at this time of year and for me this comes in the form of goose fat. You can buy it in most supermarkets and it’s this little jar that will be the difference between boring roast spuds and beautiful chuffed up and crispy potatoes full of flavour with steaming fluffy interiors. The process is simple, you par boil the potatoes, chuff them up so the outsides get fluffy and then toss them in boiling hot goose fat, sprinkle with sea salt and then roast them until they are crisp and golden. When I was testing this recipe I tried it with both goose and duck fat and by far goose fat is definitely the winner on the grounds of taste. All these dishes make a great addition to Christmas dinner and I hope you give them a go!