Festive food and wine: Christmas with a twist

Christmas food and wine

Jess Meyer

Food editor, woman & Woman’s Own

Growing up in Australia, Christmas signalled the official beginning of a long, hot summer, filled with barbecues, backyard cricket and daily visits to the beach. For my family, like many, this meant dinner was often served al fresco, the festive table laden with colourful salads, a tropical pavlova, and most importantly, truly heroic quantities of seafood, especially prawns – always served cold, shell on, with a simple squeeze of lemon.

Since moving to the UK I’ve embraced many of the comforts that come with a wintry Christmas, swapping the zingy salads for roasted veggies, and the pav for warm butterscotch pud, but the seafood is still the highlight.

These days, the spread has evolved into more of a grazing board, with lots of seasonal favourites like oysters, and plenty of tasty sauces. Whether I’m hosting for two or 20, this flexible feast perfectly sums up the relaxed vibes of Christmas at home.

Seafood platter

Serves 2-3

Prep 15 minutes

For the Champagne mignonette:
2 shallots, finely diced
120ml Champagne vinegar (or use a good quality white wine vinegar)
1-2 tbsp Champagne or sparkling wine (optional)

For the platter:
6 fresh oysters, shucked
12 cooked whole tiger prawns
100g sliced smoked salmon
Lemon wedges, caper berries, dill sprigs, toasted ciabatta, aioli, to serve (optional) Crushed ice and rock salt, to assemble

1. For the mignonette, combine the shallot and vinegar in a small bowl with a pinch of salt, white pepper and caster sugar. Cover and chill until ready to serve (make up to 1 day ahead).

2. To assemble, fill a lipped serving platter with crushed ice and rock salt (this will keep everything nice and cold at the table). Arrange the seafood on the platter, along with the mignonette. Garnish with lemon wedges, dill, caper berries and any other sauces, toppings or accompaniments you fancy.

3. Add the Champagne/sparkling wine to the mignonette and spoon it over the oysters to serve

Fiona Beckett on what to drink

A seafood platter is a great opportunity to crack open a treasured white wine you’ve been saving for a special occasion. Given the inspiration is Australian I’d be tempted by an aged Australian Semillon, though it might not be to everyone’s taste. Maybe put it on the table anyway, but a safer choice might be a Margaret River Sauvignon-Semillon blend such as Vasse Felix, Classic Semillon-Sauvignon Blanc (£12.50 Tesco) or Cullen’s Cullen Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc-Semillon 2022 (£21.65 The Fine Wine Co).


Jen Bedloe

Group food director, woman&home

I tend to host Christmas and over the years we’ve borrowed ideas and adapted our day to incorporate the kids growing up, and favourite bits from our childhoods. My favourite part of the day is sitting down with Champagne, smoked salmon and paté toasts to open presents. I’d leave the roast to Boxing Day (if I had my way).

We have a few traditions that we stick to, including making my late dad’s cheesy bacon rolls, and we always go to the church nativity (and pub) on Christmas Eve. We tend to mix up the meat element each year. My kids love a juicy rib of beef, but this year I’m planning to make this riff on porchetta with its herby spiced seasoning that will go well with the sides and trimmings.

Credit: Hanna Hughes

Porchetta-style roast pork (with crackling)

An Italian-style roast with wow factor and killer crackling if you ask your butcher to leave the skin on.

Serves 8
Prep
25 minutes, plus overnight marinating
Cook 4 hours

2kg pork belly joint, skin scored (ask your butcher to do this and to score under the skin)
½ bulb garlic, cloves chopped
½ tsp each juniper and allspice
1 bunch thyme, leaves picked
6 sprigs rosemary, leaves picked
Zest 1 orange
5 large banana shallots, halved
Handful sage leaves
Opies pickled pears (optional)
You will need: kitchen string

1. Unroll the pork belly. Combine the garlic, spices, herbs and zest. Rub all over the meat and under the skin, then roll…


Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine/festive-food-and-wine-christmas-with-a-twist-518416/

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