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Go cold turkey

Take Stock goes global and looks at alternatives to the traditional Christmas dinner.

To get your tills ringing this Christmas, think outside the box and offer something different to our beloved turkey. A survey of pub owners and restaurateurs identified a 22 per cent increase in orders for alternative Christmas dinners last year and top of the list was a curry! So if you fancy putting on some alternatives on your festive menu, read on.

The Nordic way

Scandinavian food is becoming popular. Noma restaurant in Copenhagen was voted the world’s best three times in a row and the number of Icelandic restaurants has been rising with outlets like Texture in London. Herring and gravadlax make alternative starters and why not look to Rudolf for inspiration and replace turkey with oven-roast reindeer or smoked salted lamb?

Something fishy

Fish dominates menus throughout Spain and Portugal at Christmas, served  in rich, aromatic stews, paellas, or simply roasted or salt baked. It makes a nice alternative to a nut roast for pescetarians. Lee Bennett, executive chef of Le Pont de la Tour in London suggests a lobster bisque as a Christmas starter, “a lobster bisque with fennel and dill is our signature dish – if I ever take it off the menu, people ask where is has gone.”

Spice it up

Atul Kochhar of London’s Benares Restaurant says duck is an authentic Indian meat at Christmas and recommends duck in a cinnamon and cardamom marinade, roasted with a xacuti blend.

The Romanian Way

Christmas dinner in Romania is a truly grand affair with the meat of choice being pork. Serve roasted pork with a range of homemade pickles or incorporate ham and cheese and go for a traditional Romanian Pork Cordon Bleu.

A twist on tradition

If you want to stick closer to home, Anne Petch of Heal Farm has created a ‘twelve bird true love’ roast to celebrate the 12 days of Christmas. Incorporating turkey, goose, chicken, pheasant, three types of duck, poussin, guinea fowl, partridge, pigeon and quail, the roast costs £665 and serves over 125 people! Not content with her creation having 12 different types of meat, each one is stuffed with flavours unique to that particular bird: the goose has an orange and walnut stuffing and the pigeon a juniper one.

Meat free options

Rather than vegetarian options being mandatory additions to menus, why not make them the centrepiece? Amanda Powney, owner of vegetarian restaurant Terre a Terre says, “the key to making sure that meat-eaters get their share of festive fun is to serve them food that, while not meat, offers the same traditional flavours as the roast turkey. Chestnuts are good for that.” The Vegetarian Society has a bespoke Christmas website for caterers that offers help, support and free recipes. Su Taylor from the Society explains why catering for vegetarians is so important at Christmas: “Caterers should remember that it’s not just veggies that choose vegetarian dishes in restaurants – people looking for a lighter dish, those reducing their meat intake and customers who are simply bored with turkey will often opt for a non-meat option, especially if there is a choice.”

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