On Christmas day, dinner in the United Kingdom is best served hot and traditional. Whether you’re a Queen-and-Country Brit, or just someone looking to cook like one this holiday season, here are four essential recipes your English dinner table must contain: a fat, roasted goose as an entree and a side of Yorkshire pudding, as well as the old English staples, Christmas pudding and a mince pies. Each of these has been tried and enjoyed at the British dinner table for thousands of years, and Christmas dinner in the United Kingdom would be nothing without them. So now that you have the holiday menu, let’s get cooking!
Cooking the Bird:
Recipe for Roasted Goose
1 goose, weighing 4-5kg/9-11lb
1.) Preheat your oven to approximately 190 Celsius, or 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
2.) Poke holes in the skin of your goose with skewer so the thick layer of fat seeps out during the cooking process. Trim off the excess fat, and then season the bird with salt and peeper liberally.
3.) Cook the goose on a wire rack in a large roasting tin, and be sure to cover it with foil. It should take 3 and a half hours to cook, or until the juice runs clear. To ensure that the skin is crisp and brown, remove the foil 30 minutes before it is fully cooked.
4.) Let the goose sit for 20 minutes before carving it. Serve it with the pan juices, bacon rolls, and a stuffing of your choice.
Making Yorkshire Pudding
175g/6oz plain flour
175ml/6fl oz milk (whole or semi-skimmed)
110ml/4fl oz water
2 tbsp beef dripping
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
For cooking, use a solid roasting tin measuring 28x23cm/11x9in.
1.) Start by holding a sieve over a large mixing bowl, and then sift the flour into the bowl. By holding the sieve higher above the bowl, you’ll give the flour a good airing.
2.) Using a spoon, make an indention in the center of the flour, and break the eggs into it. Add the salt and pepper to the eggs.
3.) Measure out the milk and water, and then begin to beat the eggs with an electric whisk. By beating the eggs, you will slowly start incorporating the flour, starting ant the edges and then working inward. When the batter becomes stiff and hard to mix, add the milk and water. Be sure to scrape the sides with a spatula to prevent any blobbing within the mix. Continue this process until the batter is smooth.
4.) Pour 2 tablespoons of beef fat into a roasting tin and allow it to preheat in the oven. When the fat begins to smoke, remove the tin and evenly pour the batter into it.
5.) Cook the Yorkshire pudding for 40 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Once it has cooled, serve it cut into squares.
The All-mighty Mound:
The Recipe for a Traditional Christmas Pudding
50g/2oz prunes, chopped
50g/2oz apricots or figs, chopped
25g/¾oz fresh or dried mixed peel
50g/2oz flaked almonds
150g/5oz fresh pear, puréed in a food processor, with the skin on
1 level teaspoon each of ground ginger and cinnamon
½ level teaspoon ground mace
25g/1oz vegetable or meat suet
150ml/5fl oz of apple or pear juice OR 100ml/3½oz apple or pear juice and 50ml/2fl oz brandy
100g/3½oz of flour
1.) Using a large bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients together.
2.) Begin to beat the eggs while adding juice and brandy. When the mix is smooth, pour into the dry ingredients.
3.) Using a spatula or other utensil, knead the flour very thoroughly in with the dry ingredients.
4.) Pour the entire mixture into your pudding basin, cover it with greaseproof paper, and then tie it all off with a string or a rubber band.
5.) Place the basin in a deep pan, and pour water into the pan until it is halfway up the bowl. Then cover the pan tightly and let it simmer for 4-5 hours. You will have to periodically check the water level to keep it at the halfway mark.
6.) Once cooked, remove the basin and replace the greaseproof paper. Allow the pudding to cool, and then store it in a cool larder.
7.) To best serve the Christmas pudding, re-steam it for 1-2 hours or place it in the microwave for 3-5 minutes.
The Best Pies in London:
Make a Classic Mince Pie
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground mace
2 tsp ground cinnamon
50g/2oz vegetable suet (optional)
½ Bramley cooking apple, cored and chopped but not peeled
1 lemon, cut into small pieces but not peeled
1 orange, cut into small pieces but not peeled
120ml/4fl oz brandy or whisky
Specific for the Pastry:
1 egg (optional)
1.) Mix together the dried fruits with all of the spices, and the suet if you are using it in your pie.
2.) Purée the apple, orange, and lemon pieces in a food processor, and then add the mixture to the dried fruit. Also add the brandy or whiskey at this time.
3.) Stir the mix up well, and then leave it be for two to 24 hours.
4.) Begin making the pastry by sieving the flour into a food processor.
5.) Put the butter into the processor, and blend it until it forms crumbs.
6.) Add 8-10 tablespoons of cold water, and mix the dough until it forms into a ball. Then remove the dough and let it chill for 30 minutes.
7.) While the dough chills, preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius, or 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Also use this time to grease and flour your mince pie tins.
8.) After 30 minutes, remove the pastry and roll it out until it has a thickness of about 5mm. Cut the dough into circles slightly larger than the circumference of your tins, and then line the tins with it.
9.) Spoon your fruit mixture into each pie, and then cut lids out of the remaining dough to top off each pie. Be sure to wet the edges of the dough and mash it together with your fingers.
10.) Crack and beat in egg into a bowl and brush the tops of each pie with it liberally.
11.) The pies should bake for about 20 minutes, or until they are lightly browned and the dough is cooked.
12.) Remove the pies, and then sprinkle them with sugar for a lovely touch. Be sure to let them cool in the tins so as to prevent cracking, and any accidental burns on your part, too.
13.) Serve the pies at the table with the rest of your Christmas meal, and remember to have a smashing holiday in the United Kingdom, or else where! Cheers!
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, “Roasting a Goose.” Foods Matter Magazine.
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, “Christmas Pudding.” Foods Matter Magazine.
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, “Mince Pies.” Foods Matter Magazine.
James Martin, “Yorkshire Pudding.” Saturday Kitchen.