Tried and tasted: Christmas DIY meal kits | The Week UK – The Week UK
All you need to know about everything that matters.
Believe it or not other countries celebrate Christmas rather differently to us. The Philippines has a giant lantern festival, Sweden has a big Yule Goat, and the less said about the Netherlands’s “Black Pete” the better.
But different countries also have different Christmas culinary traditions: a Christmas table in Barbados isn’t complete without a baked ham decorated with pineapple and sorrel glazes, while Australian Christmases centre around fresh seafood cooked on the barbie.
Meanwhile, over in Italy, especially in the north, a traditional Christmas feast will feature filled pasta like manicotti and ravioli and some kind of meat, such as roasted veal, baked chicken, sausages or braised beef.
Angela Hartnett’s northern Italian feast draws on these traditions for inspiration and centres on one of her London restaurant Cafe Murano’s most popular dishes – a rich, hearty osso buco with traditional risotto Milanese.
The meal kicks off with focaccia and arancini filled with mushrooms and truffle-infused cheese. Next, comes a cured Scottish monkfish and a winter salad of sweet roasted squash with bitter leaves, gorgonzola and toasted walnuts. And what Italian feast would be complete without torn mozzarella, which is served here with a delicious pesto.
Finally comes Hartnett’s festive Italian twist on a British favourite – panettone bread and butter pudding, served with pistachio crème anglaise and candied pistachios. And after all that a small plate of dark chocolate truffles, dusted in cocoa powder. A lovely insight into how Christmas dinner looks abroad.
Everyone always talks about Christmas meals as if they are a one or two-day affair but let’s face it, in the lead-up to Christmas itself we are all tucking into Christmas-adjacent meals with work colleagues and friends, not to mention the countless mince pies and Christmas sandwiches we consume throughout December.
And for those who need a good festive feed, Côte at Home has you covered with its collection of pre- and post-Christmas meals including a Nights Before Christmas kit, a Merry Betwixtmas kit and the Deck The Halls kit we tested out while decorating our tree.
The box comes with a collection of chocolate tree decorations and a booklet by interior stylist Sandra Baker on how to create the most fashionable tree “looks” for 2021. But regardless of whether her tips inspire you, they at least set the scene nicely for the meal ahead, which begins with smoked salmon rillettes served in lovely ceramic jars you will probably want to keep, and served with piping hot demi-baguettes. Then the main event is a hearty beef bourguignon with rich creamy mash and minted peas. And finally, a serving of profiteroles with chocolate sauce brings this indulgent meal to a close. Now, onto the next Christmas-related feast.
Not content with conquering Cornwall, Rick Stein is now sending his trademark brand of luxe seafood nationwide. And this Christmas box is filled with copious cheer, but not a trace of turkey nor any pigs – either in or out of blankets.
Instead, what you get is a superlative starter of tuna guacamole, which you just need to gently sear and pop straight on the plate before dousing in a spring onion, chilli and soy dressing. This is followed by langoustines, which you will need to slice in half before reheating then adding Pernod and tarragon, and finally, a main course of brill, served with truffle butter and mashed potato. Well, I say finally, actually there is still a spiced custard tart with Cornish clotted cream coming your way.
This is refined food, not without a bit of faff in its preparation, but well and truly worth it.
Burgers don’t exactly scream Christmas, but dining traditions have to begin somewhere, so maybe now is the time to plough your own furrow and eat what you want on the big day, rather than following the prescribed formula.
And the offering from Dirty Bones isn’t entirely without festive flourishes. A side of Brussels sprouts with sweet and sour cranberries reminds you what season it is, while the bread sauce that you smother over your tater tots is another reminder of the conventional pile of turkey and trimmings you may have otherwise been tucking into.
The meal also comes with truffled macaroni and cheese which the Dirty Bones chefs intend for you to put in your burger, but you may just want to eat separately – it is great either way. And to wash it all down there are two Dirty Bones lagers and a genuinely delicious pre-mixed rum cocktail.
Christmas dinner wasn’t broken, but Dirty Bones went ahead and fixed it anyway.
Some restaurant delivery boxes forget that the experience starts right from the moment you start taking things out of the box. Of course, the wrapping needs to be functional and do the job, keeping everything cool and well preserved, but opening a DIY food delivery, particularly a Christmas one, should feel a little like opening a present. Such is the case with the Christmas box from Drake & Morgan, which comes sprinkled with Quality Streets throughout.
But the presentation is only part of the experience, and the proof of quality will always be found in the (Christmas) pudding. Fortunately, there is plenty on display here.
The three-course menu kicks off with sourdough bread and butter, Nocellara olives and smoked almonds, followed by Chapel & Swan smoked salmon with soda bread and piccalilli, and duck liver parfait with pear chutney and brioche – all entirely delicious.
Then comes the main course, which features a free-range turkey breast served with all the trimmings including pigs in blankets, pork and apricot stuffing, goose fat roast potatoes and more. It is so much food that you will likely be looking up Christmas leftovers recipes and eating it for several days afterwards.
Last comes the Christmas pud with clotted cream and brandy custard, chocolate brownies, mini mince pies and brandy butter. And then, I suppose, it is time to unwrap those Quality Streets. Hey, Christmas only comes once a year, after all, right?
It is easy to overdo it at Christmas. In fact, it is rather hard not to go entirely overboard. Indeed, the average British person eats 6,000 calories on Christmas Day, according to The Independent, three times the recommended daily intake for women.
Simon Rogan’s DIY Christmas kit offers a neat sleight of hand by giving off the appearance of restraint, while actually delivering on the calorific overload. Indeed, the starters of truffled celeriac soup with confit duck followed by pine-cured smoked salmon, with whipped cod's roe and beetroot could make you believe you are being positively abstemious. Both are elegant dishes that get the appetite going, rather than snuffing it out entirely.
But then the delicious turkey arrives, loaded with all the trimmings, and you remember immediately what Christmas is all about: gluttony and excess. Oh and charity and good will to all mankind, of course.
For dessert there is a pretty traditional Christmas pud, with rich brandy custard and, in case you aren’t already horizontal and digesting, mince pie chocolates to finish the meal – and not to mention, you – off.
After all the excess of the Christmas period, why not plan a recovery with a delivery box of yet more excess. Burger and Lobster’s DIY hangover recovery kit is the perfect tonic to cure your hangover from the day before; a kind of hair-of-the-dog of gastronomic overindulgence.
In the kit, you receive two brioche buns that you lash with not one but two types of butter before lightly frying and then filling them with a generous dollop of lobster meat.
Alongside those come fries that you reheat in the oven and some delicious seafood croquettes that you deep fry on your hob. And to top it all off, four Bloody Marys from the highly regarded alcoholic tomato juice purveyors Bloody Drinks, whose Bloody Classic mixes tomato juice, vodka, Amontillado sherry, lemon juice, pickle juice, Worcestershire sauce, a dash of soy, and Tabasco.
Add the included Bloody Mary salt to your chips and you have a perfect day-after festive pick-me-up.
The Week is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site www.futurenet.com
© Future Publishing Limited, Quay House, The Ambury, Bath BA1 1UA. All rights reserved. England and Wales company registration number 2008885