Pre-Christmas Christmas Dinner

D and I are heading off to France next Sunday to spend a week ski-ing the Alps and eating pain au chocolat.  As we won’t be spending the holidays with our families I decided to hold a pre-Christmas Christmas dinner to satisfy all of our festive food cravings.

This is the third Christmas dinner that I have cooked and I had the meal planned with miltary precision (see below word-processed schedule for proof!).  It was still a hectic afternoon though.  Not much time for taking photos, as you can imagine, but I would like to share a few of those that were snapped. 

I followed Nigella’s Super Spiced Turkey recipe which involves soaking the bird overnight in a brine flavoured with orange, star anise, maple syrup, ginger and much more.  Last year it worked beautifully, this year I over-cooked the meat and it was disappointingly dry. 

The turkey disappointment was softened by how well everything else worked out.  The veg I blogged about last week went down a treat.  Just as well – the amount of chopping and peeling involved was phenomenal!

D took care of dessert.  Everyone loves his banoffee pie.  🙂

Hours to prepare, minutes to devour.

Not everyone was happy.  Rosie was seriously miffed when she realised there was no space set for her at the table.

The surprise hit of the day was the vegetarian chestnut stuffing as it was unanimously preferred to the meaty sage and onion type.  I should add, I don’t actually stuff anything with the stuffing.  Prefer to cook it seperately in little bitesized balls.   🙂

Vegetarian Chestnut Stuffing (Adapted from Tasmin Day Lewis’s Simply The Best)

Olive oil

1 large onion

4 sticks of celery

125g walnuts

2 cooking apples

400g tin of chestnut puree

500g wholewheat breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten (you may need one more if mixture is not sticking together)

Handful of thyme leaves


450g chestnuts (fresh or vacum packed)

  • Finely chop the onion, celery, walnuts and apple.  Fry gently in the olive oil until softened.
  • Tip into a bowl and and add all other ingredients except the chestnuts.  Combine well.
  • Add the chopped chestnuts and combine gently.
  • Roll the mixture into golf-ball sized balls and place on a baking tray. 
  • Bake at 180oC for 30 minutes.

18 thoughts on “Pre-Christmas Christmas Dinner

  1. Dear wendy. where are you off to? Mr Moi and I are leaving Ukraine next week to head to France, we’re going to Chamonoix valley..?

  2. Well, love, your Christmas in the Alps sounds heavenly to me. Just heavenly.

    Rosie breaks my heart…and cracks me up. She’s a little angel.

    Looks like a VERY contented table of eaters. Happy Christmas, to you and all of yours. Make a snow angel for me, will you?

  3. Peter – It really wasn’t, actually! I cooked it to the FSA times and it was too long. 😦

    Little Miss Moi – We are staying in Les Menuires. Embarrassed to say I have absolutely no idea where that or Chamonoix are in relation to each other (or themselves, for that matter)!

    Lucy – She’s such a wee drama queen! She growled at D at one point during the night and he went in a huff with her, declaring that he wasn’t going to talk to her for the rest of the weekend. Seconds later Rosie threw herself onto his knee and buried her face in his arms, leaving D no choice but to melt and start coo-ing and cuddling her!
    Will most definitely make a snow angel for you. 🙂

    Kay – Wonderful! Enjoy! 🙂

  4. love your list and your photos – I have visions of you swinging from the chandelier taking the photo of the festive table 🙂

    The chestnut stuffing looks fantastic – I am not surprised it was a hit – as a vegetarian I always notice that everyone laughs at vegetarians and then wants to eat all their food too!

    I’d love to try this recipe but still need to work out where I get chestnut puree and chestnuts – will put it aside with my other chestnut wishlist recipes

    hope you have a very snowy christmas

  5. Whole poultry is always tricky, all those different meat qualities in one roast. I brine, too, and use a leave-in, constant-read thermometer with a digital display on the countertop, and I still overcook the it half the time. The understanding I’ve come to after years of frustration is that I’m aiming at the breast and ignoring the rest of the bird.

  6. Johanna – Thank you! 🙂
    Do you have a brand called Merchant Gourmet in Australia? It was their chestnut puree that I used. Maybe it can be ordered online…

    Wheatlessbay – That’s good advice about focusing on the breast and using a leave in thermometer. It was a much smaller bird that I cooked last year and it worked out perfectly. :-S

  7. I overcooked my pre-Christmas turkey this weekend too! Luckily I’ll have another try at Christmas, though I am tempted to boycott turkey for a while.

  8. Oh Wendy, this looks like a spectacular feast! You’ve outdone yourself! And everyone at the party is clearly having a blast.

    I keep going back and forth over chestnuts. One day I love them and think their texture is rich and flavor comforting, and the next day they taste like dried out baby food to me. Hmmm. I guess I’ve got some darned fickle taste buds.

    Fickle taste buds aside–thank you for sharing the veggie stuffing. Apples and fowl go so well together!

    Have a blast skiing. I’ll be skiing too, but certainly not in the Alps.

  9. Kathryn – I’m a list freak. They are everywhere in my house!

    Christina – Thank you! I know what you mean about the chestnuts. Don’t think I’d want them to be the main focus of a meal but as a side – yum yum!

  10. Ah, I love your working backwards list, done in military time (and fashion) – I do the same and I feel very much like a general leading to troops into a battle royale. Hope you and D have an excellent Christmas and skiing trip.

  11. Annemarie – Thank you! And I agree – it does feel like a battle. One that the turkey won this year. Until next year my foul fowl…

    Megan – Thank you! The bird would probably have enjoyed it more had the water not been ice cold. 😉

  12. I made this chestnut stuffing yesterday with intentions of freezing it for Christmas. Thank goodness I decided to cook some to try beforehand. It was absolutely disgusting! I made chestnut stuffing last year and it was yum, but couldn’t find the recipe again. If you make this try well in advance to avoid disappointment on the big day.

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