Reinvent Xmas lunch

2010-12-17 09:06

The poultry option
If you’re not having vast ­numbers for Christmas lunch, try a duck.

One will feed four as part of a feast and two on its own.

The trick with duck is to release the fat and get the bird good and crispy.

If there are excess globules of white fat in the cavity, rip them out.

Then prick the skin all over, rub it vigorously with salt, and put it straight on the rack of the oven with a dish below to catch the fat (use this to roast your potatoes – after all, it is Christmas).

A 2kg duck will take about an hour at 200°C.

I would cut up a couple of large oranges and stuff the quarters into the cavity with thyme or tarragon.

You could also chop up carrots, parsnips and potatoes, and put them below the duck in the pan catching the fat. But remember these are not for those on diet.

Serve the duck with a variation on Nigella Lawson’s watermelon salad. Ball a watermelon or cut it into chunks, add a generous amount of chopped mint, olives and even feta if you like.

Dress with parsley and good olive oil. Delicious, light and fruity, it will offset the richness of the duck.

The fish option
To feed four people, you’ll need a whole fish of about 1kg.

Whatever fish you fancy, make sure it is approved by the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (SMS name of the fish to 079?499?8795).

Rub the inside with salt and pepper, and then make a mixture you fancy.

I would go for spring onion, celery, carrots, a whole lot of fresh dill and wedges of fresh lemon, even some slices of potato and garlic.

Fry up the veggies, add the herbs and lime wedges, then stuff it in the fish and close it with wooden skewers.

Put it in foil for the first half of the cooking time, about 20 minutes at 200°C, then open it up for the last 20 minutes.

If the flesh is opaque and flakes easily, it’s cooked.

Serve the fish with a fresh salad of sliced fennel and radish, and dress with pomegranate seeds, lime juice and olive oil.

The vegetarian option
Get a kilogramme of varieties of mushrooms. Get fresh porcini, but make sure the bulk are shiitake and large brown ones.

The little button ones are also good, but in smaller quantities.

Put a generous slice of butter in a pan, chop the mushrooms into quarters, and fry with garlic and onion if you like.

Once brown, add a slug of medium sherry, cook it off then stir through sour cream or plain full-cream yoghurt.

Dress with diced red and orange peppers, and finely chopped parsley.

To make it richer, put the mushrooms into an oven-proof dish, sprinkle with a mixture of cheese and bread crumbs, and put it under the grill until crisp and brown on top.

Serve with a roast pumpkin, rocket and walnut salad dressed with rice vinegar, sugar and olive oil.

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