My father in law always most graciously said that his favourite meal of the year was ‘Boxing Day in Merrow’ and it was indeed always a great pleasure to cook for him – he loved it so, the family, the log fire, Wallace and Gromit on the telly, and although it meant he needed a good hour on the sofa after lunch for a little shut-eye, probably to avoid the washing up – it was worth it, to receive the big bear hug of thanks.
So, here is his favourite menu…
– Cold Turkey leftover from the day before. (I always buy one far too big!)
– A home baked ham, served cold– easy peasy. Several days before, boil a whole gammon in 2 litres of coca cola for a couple of hours– seriously – just ask HRH Nigella(!) Then carefully remove, score the skin and rub in equal measures of honey and mustard. Bake in the oven for about half an hour. Cool. Slice and arrange in alternate slices with the turkey.
– Colourful crunchy coleslaw made with shredded white cabbage and grated carrots and celeriac combined with a little crème fraiche with wholegrain mustard but also with the addition of chopped fresh apple and a good handful of sultanas and shelled pistachio nuts.
– A simple green salad of spinach watercress and rocket sprinkled with pomegranate seeds, and toasted sesame and black onion seeds.
– Cold baked red cabbage leftover from the Big Day when it was served hot. I make mine in the oven by simply layering up a medium roughly chopped red cabbage, a couple of chopped onions and couple chopped apples then pouring over a couple of tablespoons of vinegar and a couple of tablespoons of Demerara sugar. A good grind of black pepper and salt and a teaspoon of mixed spice. Give it all a good stir and bake in a covered oven dish for a good 2.5-3 hours. Makes lots –served hot for the big day, and cold for boxing day – then put any leftovers in a clean jam jar and enjoy as a chutney with cheese or cold meats (again!!!) throughout January.
-Cold left over chestnut stuffing. Well not exactly left over as I make tons to see us through both festive days. A real family traditional favourite. Made with equal quantities of the very best sausagemeat and chestnut puree mixed together and baked for an hour in the oven. Divine with the Turkey on the Big Day but even better cold on the next.
– Creamy root vegetable dauphinoise – layering up thin slices of par- boiled potatoes, sweet potatoes, swede, butternut squash and celeriac and lots of sautéed onion. Then generously pouring over some seasoned double cream laced with fresh chopped garlic and baking in the oven for a good hour. Alternatively how about baking some sweet potatoes rather than the usual white ones? Or making a creamy mash and adding horseradish or chopped spring onions?
– Then there are the giant eye-watering pickled onions our friend gives us every year; my own chutneys of which there is always copious jars full and the cold left over bread sauce, which has by now gone a tad solid – that only me and my father in law seems to like. But still, more for us
Dessert is simple, as it is a very busy time of the year for us caterers(!)– line a pudding bowl with cling film and pile in some crushed meringues and whipped cream marbled through with a drained tin of black cherries, but keep the left over juice. Freeze overnight, then take out the freezer about an hour before use – turn out and pour over some of the extra juice. Or perhaps a splash of cherry liquer as well. Mmmm.
Roll on boxing day.