Turkey has been popular Christmas dinner fayre since the 16th Century. But although it’s delicious, turkey can feel a bit samey-samey. If you fancy something a bit different, these Christmas turkey alternative ideas are exactly what you need for your festive dinner table.
Try a different meat
Legend has it that King Henry VIII introduced turkey to the festive dinner table. Once the food of kings and upper classes, the humble turkey is now a staple of the British dinner table.
A time of sumptuous and overindulgence, we often buy a bird that is far too big. Not only do we have to wrestle it in the oven, but we also have to get up at the crack of dawn to do so. On top of all that, there will be so much leftover that we’ll be eating it for a week.
Turkey isn’t the only option for Christmas dinner. There are other meats that we can enjoy. To be honest, there is no reason why we have to eat the same thing every year. A plump moist chicken is just as good as turkey. Or you can ring the changes with:
- Goose – packed full of flavour, goose is often seen as an alternative to turkey. It’s rich and densely-textured meat is high in fat, especially just under the skin. This means that it almost bastes itself during a slow roast – especially if you use a Coqopan! Free-range, organically reared geese have the better flavour but expect to pay a little more. Larger geese are anything from £30 upwards.
- Ham – a ham with its outer layer of fat slightly crisp and dotted with cloves makes for a wonderful centrepiece. And, did we mention it’s delicious. Add flavours like boubon and brown sugar to the outer layer of fat including for undeniable sweetened and smokiness. This makes a welcome change to turkey and is also ideal for use in the days after Christmas, as long as you store it correctly.
- Beef wellington – Why not opt for a beef wellington this Christmas? The piece of beef should be roasted with care so that it doesn’t overcook and retains all its lovely flavour. Protecting it in an envelope of puff pastry is keeps it succulent. You can make your own or buy a prepared one from either your local supermarket or specialist grocer.
Of course, it may be that you are seeking a Christmas turkey alternative because you choose not to eat meat. If you are pescatarian, these recipes will suit you too; as will a variety of decadent fish dishes for Christmas, such as roast Turbot, Dover Sole and Salt Baked Salmon.
The once go-to Christmas dinner for vegetarians was the nut roast. Packed full of chopped nuts and pulses, it did make a flavoursome Christmas dinner for the vegetarians around the table. However, in recent times the range of vegetarian dishes has expanded with the number of people who voluntarily ditch meat.
These vegetarian ideas pack a punch with flavour so get out the kitchen equipment and try something different this year:
- Goat’s cheese and red onion tart – a Christmas classic, the sweet tang of caramelised onion against creamy goat’s cheese makes this a wonderful filling for a light pastry case. For an even bigger change, pair the cheese with beetroot. One large tart makes a great centrepiece, ideal for a Boxing Day buffet, or opt for cute individual tarts.
- Mushroom wellington – just like beef wellington, earthy mushrooms in a succulent sauce are enveloped in a lush pastry case. Leave ordinary button mushrooms for a fry up, opting instead for meatier Portobello mushrooms. Super easy to make, especially if you have a Nicer Dicer to help with choppping, a mushroom wellington will impress your vegetarian and non-veggie guests alike.
Vegan Christmas Turkey alternative
Forgoing dairy and other animal products doesn’t mean a boring diet but it can certainly test even the most competent cooks in the kitchen. That said, some wonderful flavour combinations will make vegan guests feel right at home at your table this festive season.
- Nut roast – the nut roast was once the only option for vegetarians, a staple of the Christmas dinner throughout the 80s for many. This isn’t meant to do the nut roast down because it is, in its own right, a fairly rich and sumptuous dish. There are many different ideas for delicious vegan Christmas roasts, all of which are easy to make. Or you can rely on shop-bought products which are equally as delicious.
- Quorn – the range of vegan products is growing and that means more choice for vegans. One of the original vegan products to market was Quorn and their range is now so vast that it’ll be hard to make a choice. Like other manufacturers, they produce a Christmas line that means there is a Quorn roast suitable for vegan guests. Serve with a vegan-friendly gravy or enjoy with a sweet cranberry sauce.
Just a flavour of turkey-alternatives
Turkey may be the staple of many a Christmas table but that doesn’t mean it has to feature on yours. Trying a different cut of meat is one way of adding pizzazz but if you fancy a complete change, introducing fish or vegetarian and vegan dishes is one way of doing just that.
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