Bringing home the turkey - alternatives for Christmas Day food

You may have heard about the predicted turkey (and other bird) shortage this festive season, as poultry farmers continue to battle a devastating avian flu outbreak, and so you could be wondering what you can present to your guests as an alternative. Turkey may be the traditional choice for Christmas dinner, but there are some scrumptious alternatives for meat eaters, vegetarians, and vegans.

Hamming it up
A festive ham is a fine thing, especially when dotted with cloves, drenched in honey, or even topped with a mulled wine glaze. Some even prefer their ham soaked in cola!

Using ham instead of turkey has many benefits: it’s less likely to dry out compared to turkey, it’s more versatile in accompanying flavours and – importantly – one doesn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to cook it!

Once the big dinner is over, ham is the perfect Boxing Day treat – think a lovely ham sandwich to soak up the overindulgences of the previous day, or a no fuss plate of ham, chips, and egg as an antidote to a full day spent in the kitchen on the 25th.

With so many ways to cook a ham with an array of mouthwatering accompanying flavours, one could get carried away! You can find so many wonderful ham recipes for the big day…here are a few examples from the BBC, Good Housekeeping, Jamie Oliver and Nigella Lawson.

Big beef
Based on the classic French Boeuf En Croute, serving up Beef Wellington to your guests on the big day will have you marked as a culinary whizz! A traditional Beef Wellington consists of a beef tenderloin wrapped in layers of pâté duxelles Parma ham, and puff pastry, then baked to perfection!

Made up of several components, it does take skill and a good watch to ensure everything cooks perfectly – no one likes a soggy bottom!

If you’re up for a challenge, Gordon Ramsey’s version takes two and a half hours and feeds six people – find it here.

If you feel that’s too much for you, go for a traditional beef roast with the help of one of the UK’s favourite chefs. You’ll have lashings of beef left for a hearty Boxing Day sandwich in front of the big film too.

No meat Christmas
With more of us seeking alternatives to meat on a regular basis, the chef world has caught up with us, and there are now more meat alternative recipes for Christmas dinner than ever before. Vegetarians can look forward to more than just an extra helping of roast potatoes!

There is a wealth of shop-bought alternatives to meat, as supermarkets give over more of their retail space to feed a growing number seeking meat-free options, and so the vegetarian in your family can dine like a king.

If you’d like to let the vegetarian in your life just how much you love them, you could cook up a meat-free feast from scratch. Butternut squash makes an excellent alternative to meat, and this recipe from Sainsbury’s looks divine.

Olive magazine has some great recipes from the traditional nut roast through to many more innovative recipes.

Down with diary
Vegan diets are based on non-diary food – nothing that comes from an animal – and can be a tricky prospect if you are not used to cooking for your vegan family member or friend. A few years ago, news that a vegan was coming to dinner would have filled many with dread, wondering what on earth they might feed them. Thankfully, as the health benefits of a vegan diet are more widely reported, and as supermarkets and smaller retailers lock onto the increasing desire for a dairy-free diet, it’s likely you will find alternative food stuffs and recipes much more easily.

It’s a great wonder what one can do with a few vegetables and no butter or milk, and Delicious magazine has some mouth-watering options for vegans.

When you throw open your doors on Christmas day, and greet your family and friends, you can be sure that you have catered for all and that a bird-free Christmas is a delicious possibility.