Thursday, 29 December 2011

Christmas How To... Cook the Accompanying Veg

Christmas dinner isn't complete without a full array of delicious, seasonal vegetables. These are really easy, hardly a recipe at all, but I know I'm often interested in what other families cook for their dinner so I thought I would include them. 

I also know there is interest from people new to the UK, who would like to create a British style christmas dinner for the first time but aren't entirely sure what it involves - so I thought I'd be comprehensive in my xmas posts!

Seasonally speaking, root vegetables such as carrots, parsnips, beetroot and swede, plus brassicas like brussel sprouts, as well as broccoli are all at their lovely best right now. I'm particularly fond of parsnips myself, my Mum loves beetroot, my Dad loves carrots and my husband is a broccoli fiend, so each and every one has to make it onto the christmas table.

Unlike a lot of other families, I haven't messed around with our veg too much. Partly this is because my Mum absolutely hates sweet flavours in savoury food, so the traditional honey or maple glazes are right out, and she's frankly not fond of nuts like almonds, pine nuts or chestnuts either, so souped up brussels wouldn't be popular.

I also don't want the veg to outshine the goose or the gravy, they are supporting actors and showering them in gifts of honey / cumin / sesame seeds / balsamic vinegar or any of the other common props won't help the stars of the show to shine!

I think the most important bit is the cutting - trying to make the parsnips and carrots fairly uniform in thickness before roasting them, to avoid burned tips or undercooked tops.

The beetroot needs to be pre-boiled in a large saucepan of water for a good hour until tender, before skinning and slicing into wedges. 

Roast the beetroot in a separate tin if you can, to avoid the colour bleeding into the parsnips and carrots, which can go in together. Season with salt and pepper and coat in olive oil, mixing with your hands to ensure good coverage. 
These root veg all take about 45 minutes to an hour until they're ready, but keep an eye on the beetroot; remove it and cover in foil if it looks like it's going to burn.

Swede needs to be peeled and chopped into inch square cubes, then boiled until soft and mashed with plenty of butter, salt and pepper.

Sprouts and broccoli only need the lightest of steaming or boiling with a small amount of water, keep the crunch - it's lovely.

Go to the Christmas Dinner (2011) post

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