christmas menu

Chef Chris Lacey does Christmas, combining both French and British traditions …

“For the past weeks I have been grilling my French friends and neighbours on what they do for Christmas – my particular thanks to Joelle of the bar at Brigueuil and Michelle of the bar/restaurant at Saulgond for their patience! The result is a three-course menu that is British in flavour but with a strong soupçon of French!”

 

ENTRÉE – JEAN-FRANCOIS’ WARMED OYSTERS

Oysters are a Christmas tradition in France. But instead of eating them au naturel, try this delicious recipe, given to me by Jean-Francois of Hotel Splendid in Montrollet-Bellay, a village just outside Saumur, whom Jane and I met during our regular wine buying trips.

Ingredients
6 oysters
55g (2oz) unsalted butter, soft
1/2 garlic clove crushed
1/2 tablespoon chopped parsley
Enough breadcrumbs to sprinkle
Seasoning

Make the garlic butter by mixing the butter with the garlic, parsley, and seasoning – if using salted butter do not add the salt!
Open the oysters, discarding the empty shell. Arrange the oysters on a grill-pan, place a knob of garlic butter on each and sprinkle lightly with breadcrumbs.
Put under a hot grill until butter is melted and breadcrumbs browned – this should be no more than a minute as you do not want to cook the oysters, just warm them through.

PLAT DU JOUR – ROAST GOOSE WITH STUFFING

While turkey has usurped goose in Britain, it is very much the bird of choice in France. It is roasted and served with stuffing. Here I have given you three different stuffings – my favourite, plus two given to me by my French friends.

Roasting Goose
Goose – allow 1 kilo per person

Preheat the oven to 325F/mark 3/4 or 160/165C. Prick the goose all over with a sharp fork – this will allow the fat to drip out of the goose whilst cooking.
Just before you are ready to cook it, stuff the goose (see below for recipe).
Place on a trivet or a tray that will allow the fat to collect in the baking tray placed underneath.
Roast for 30 minutes per half kilo – total weight INCLUDING stuffing

Chef’s tip: goose grease is great for roasting potatoes, and for making confit. I’ve found it’s also jolly good for rubbing on the chest if you have a cold!

My Favourite Stuffing
12 tablespoons breadcrumbs
1 large onion, chopped
1 orange – grated for zest; and the flesh chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 stick of celery, diced
1 goose liver, chopped
2 teaspoons each of fresh sage and thyme (half the amount if dried)
A little cumin, five spice, pepper and salt
1 egg, beaten

Mix all ingredients together, and moisten with a little hot water.

Joelle’s Stuffing
12 tablespoons breadcrumbs
A little milk
2 eggs, beaten
600g (2lbs) sausagemeat
Handful of parsley, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
A garlic clove, minced
Salt and pepper

Soak the breadcrumbs in the milk and beaten eggs. Then mix all the ingredients together

Michelle’s Stuffing
12 tablespoons breadcrumbs, soaked in a little water
50 g sultanas
3 shallots, shallots
Handful of parsley, chopped
200g chopped chicken livers
4 chestnuts, chopped
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together.

Accompaniments

I serve my goose with red cabbage – first shred the cabbage and blanch with sliced onions. Strain and cook slowly in a saucepan with melted butter and a little orange juice.
With Brussel sprouts, steam them for five minutes, and allow to cool. Then cut into quarters and fry to bacon and a few cooked and chopped chestnuts.
Also on the tables are, of course carrots, plus roast potatoes and parsnips.

For a French feel choose from either sauté potatoes, green beans, grilled tomatoes sprinkled with breadcrumbs, baked apple and braised chicory

DESSERT – SHEPHERD’S MANGER CAKE

If you’re looking for an alternative to Christmas pudding, then try my Shepherd’s Manger Cake. Almost 30 years ago, when I was working in a small hotel on the English south coast I was asked for an alternative Christmas dessert. I came up with “Shepherds Manger Cake” – a frangipane tart made with mincemeat and soaked with honey half way through cooking.

I made a couple of cakes last year for a little Christmas Eve party at Joelle’s bar and after the normal French reluctance to try anything “alien”, they enjoyed it. In fact, Joelle took the last half to serve her family the next day. Result!

Ingredients
Shortcrust pastry
Jar of mincemeat
150g butter
150gr caster sugar
150g ground almonds
75g plain flour
3 eggs, beaten
Almond essence
Clear honey

Preheat the over to 200C. Prepare the pastry case by buttering a tart tin (about 20cm diameter) and pressing the pastry it covers the bottom and sides.
For the frangipane, cream the butter and caster sugar until light and then beat in the eggs. Fold in the ground almonds and flour and then add a drop or two of almond essence.
Cover base of flan case with mincemeat, then top with the frangipane mixture.
Cook for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt the clear honey and brush all over the cake being careful not to break the surface too much.
Return to the oven and cook until a nice brown colour.

Serve with whipped cream or brandy butter.

 

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