Give turkeys a holiday this festive season

Turkey-free zone for Christmas

If traditional festive fayre fails to tickle your taste buds this holiday why not try some of these delectable seasonal alternatives for your Christmas table.

Shying away from the formulaic Christmas lunch of sprouts, turkey and stuffing doesn’t mean that your family or friends have to miss out on a festive feast. There are endless options to choose from but you can`t go wrong if you adhere to just one rule: whatever you serve must be special in order to create a sense of occasion. Ensuring that your meal is out of the ordinary will guarantee that your companions will be fit to burst with Christmas spirit and of course, with the sheer yumminess of it all! 

Keeping it in the poultry family

Those who find gobblers foul need not fret because there are plenty of relatives in the poultry family to choose from. Though it seems traditional now, turkey has not always been the poultry du jour for Christmas. Prior to its introduction in the 16th century, geese or peacocks were the guests of honour most likely to grace British festive tables. 

Though peacock is generally off the menu today, goose is a definite option. It is awarded special bird status because of its size and richness. BBC2`s Simon Fuller does wonderful things with his chesnut stuffing in this recipe. Alternatively, check out this cherry and chocolate variation as featured on BBC1`s Saturday Kitchen.

Take inspiration from The Twelve Days of Christmas and serve a partridge. Do it in a pear tree if you like, but do take care. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall uses one in his epic Ten Bird Roast where the master of River Cottage stuffs a mammoth turkey with nine other birds. This really is the stuff of legend and will make sure your meal becomes the same.The more culinarily challenged might want to stick to stuffing one bird of their choosing with another. This should still fulfill the wow-factor requirement. 

Some say you can`t beat meat

Meaty delights such as a great hunk of well-reared beef or tender cuts of lamb or venison say Christmas like nothing else for some. This year the carniverous could make like a Scandanavian and get their chops around some reindeer. Surely the most festive of all meats, reindeer or caribou as it is known in North America, has been an important food source amongst arctic communities for centuries.   

Though many Britons may wrinkle their noses at the prospect of nibbling on Rudolph, reindeer meat is more common than you might think in the UK, having been stocked in stores such as Lidl and Ikea as well as specialist exotic food suppliers. Reindeer stockists, J.M. Danslow Quality Butchers, swear by this recipe.

Those pescatarians

Salmon, smoked or otherwise, is common enough as a British Christmas Day entrée but the further you stray from the coastline, the less likely you are to find fish served as a Christmas main. Whether you are catering for guests with special dietary requirements or you just fancy something fishy, seafood can make for great seasonal fayre.

This Christmas Fish Pie is quick and easy to assemble. You could inject extra Christmas cheer into the dish by applying little pastry holly leaves to the top. Cookie cutters can do the hard work here. On the other side of the scale, lobster can be tricky and can make you feel like a murderer, but you can buy lobster flesh as well as claws and tails. This lobster ravioli is a great Christmas alternative. 

Make yours a veggie table

Vegetarians need to be on high alert during the festive season. An innocent looking roast potato could be smothered in goose fat. An innocuous looking batch of stuffing, laced with sausage meat. A simple enquiry is better than abstaining completely.

Vegetarians can often get stuck with a plate full of trimmings at Christmas. While this can be marvellous if the offerings are varied, plentiful and jazzed up with seasonal flavours like this mash or these parsnips, more often than not the veggies play second fiddle to their meaty counterparts.

The Vegetarian Society  are hoping to put an end to the annual gravelly frozen nut roast that many vegetarians have to endure over the holidays by suggesting heaps of unusual and hearty alternatives like this Walnut and Spiced Plum Christmas Cob

Bon Appetit!

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