Roast duck and baked quince: Nigel Slater’s recipes for festive gatherings | Christmas food and drink


I drag a department into the hallway, a damaged bough to sit down in a tall pot by the fireside, its branches decked with tufts of moss and wood stars. A present to the home – a thanks, should you like. That is additionally the place the place guests are welcomed and plied with tiny tarts of candied peel and glasses of chilled fino (or maybe a glass of oloroso the color of amber). It’s the place presents are exchanged and, later, friends are despatched safely on their approach.

There’s a lot to be mentioned for having one thing in the home for all-comers. Cake, in fact, some little pies, an enormous tin of High quality Road, however I prefer to have one thing savoury and extra substantial too – a terrine, an earthenware dish of coarse-textured pork paté is my reply. One thing to slice and supply with toast or oatcakes.

I make chutney too, jars of it to serve with chilly meat or nut roast, with wedges of caerphilly or wigmore. A chutney ok to offer as a present, one thing to take to mates or just to have in the home to sit down subsequent to a pork pie or just a few slices of chilly, salt-freckled roast goose. This 12 months’s model was made with dried apricots and cherry tomatoes, a vibrant and fruity protect. I might have added somewhat contemporary chilli however left it as it’s, in all its candy sharpness.


A snap of frost, even just a few icicles, is rarely going to place me off making a salad. However the textures within the salad bowl do differ with the times. The gentle, buttery lettuce of summer time is changed by crackling leaves of cabbage and chicory, the dressings are thicker and extra mustardy; cheese is usually current, both within the type of pecorino (so good with pears and cabbage) or crumbled blue.

The season’s different stars – cranberries – wriggle their approach on to my Christmas listing. For the standard sauce in fact, but additionally to toss right into a paté or to perk up the gravy for a Christmas hen. Clementines for juicing on Christmas morning. Quinces, for making jelly you probably have the time, to bake or poach, compote type, if not. Walnuts for salads (attempt them with chicory and beetroot) and chestnuts for roasting (don’t overlook to separate the casing first or they’ll explode into nutty shrapnel). The crystallised fruit and candied peel come out now, too.

The goose and turkey stay king of the omnivore’s desk, however I prefer to roast smaller birds at the moment too. Partridge or duck are sometimes welcome on the season’s different, smaller events. I roast them on a mattress of potatoes, basted copiously in goose or duck fats, their juices seasoning the potatoes as they slowly roast.

Candied peel Christmas tartlets (pictured above)

I can’t think about Christmas with out candied peel. The tiny glowing nuggets of candied orange, lemon or grapefruit peel are flecked all through Christmas truffles and panettone; stirred into ricotta for filling domes of cassata, and used to carry a sparkle to the thick waves of cream and custard that crown a sherry trifle.

The stuff you purchase ready-chopped in little drums is okay however I choose to purchase mine by the piece (and for which you want a great Italian deli or a top-notch food corridor). The slices of crystallised peel glow like stained glass home windows in a church, however they’re costly. I’ve discovered most individuals who say they don’t like candied peel are inclined to relent after they meet the true factor.

For these little tartlets – an alternative choice to the mince pie – I exploit candied orange peel that I purchase in December and maintain in a stoppered glass jar to make use of all year long. The on a regular basis tubs of peel will do at a push.

Makes 24
For the pastry
butter 150g, plus additional for greasing the tart tins
plain flour 295g
salt a pinch
ice-cold water somewhat

For the filling
golden syrup 200g
sultanas 75g
candied peel 75g
combined spice a pinch
butter 25g plus somewhat additional
gentle amaretti or plain, gentle cake crumbs 85g
egg 1 giant, frivolously crushed

You’ll need 2 x 12-cup mince pie or jam tart tins.

To make the pastry, lower the butter into small chunks and rub it into the flour together with your fingertips. It ought to resemble contemporary coarse breadcrumbs.

I generally add a pinch of salt. Sprinkle somewhat chilly water over the crumbs and carry them collectively together with your palms to type a gentle, however not sticky, ball. Pat the dough right into a thick disc, then wrap in kitchen paper and refrigerate for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 170C fan/gasoline mark 5. To make the filling, heat the syrup in a saucepan along with the dried and candied fruit, combined spice and butter, then crumble within the amaretti or cake crumbs. Take away the pan from the warmth, then stir the crushed egg into the combination.

Roll out the pastry and, utilizing an 8cm cutter, lower out 24 discs of the pastry. Evenly butter the tart circumstances with the additional butter, then place the pastry discs within the tart circumstances and divide the combination between them. Bake till pale gold and effervescent – about 15-20 minutes. Let the tarts settle for 10 minutes earlier than easing them from their tins. Mud with icing sugar if you want.

Pork and cranberry terrine with apricot chutney

{Photograph}: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

There’s a lot pleasure in realizing there’s a dish of paté – a rough, fruit-flecked terrine – within the fridge. As helpful as a Christmas cake, one thing to slice and serve to sudden friends, or for lunch with thick-cut toast and pickled gherkins. I additionally made a candy and bitter chutney to go together with this one, a pot of ochre-coloured pickle to carry out with this or with bread and cheese.

Serves 8
For the terrine
onion 1 medium
butter 30g
thyme leaves 2 tsp
rosemary leaves 1 tsp
smoked bacon 250g
minced pork 400g
floor mace ½ tsp
juniper berries 12
dried apricots 80g
contemporary cranberries 60g
marsala or brandy 2 tbsp

To complete
bacon 2 rashers
bay leaves 4
juniper berries 12
cranberries 6

For the chutney (makes 2 giant jars)
crimson onion 1
yellow onion 1
olive oil 4 tbsp
dried apricots 450g
ginger 25g (a thumb-sized lump)
lemon zest and juice of 1
golden caster sugar 200g
cider vinegar 250ml
bramley 2 giant, or different sharp apples
cherry tomatoes 200g, yellow or orange
pomegranate 1

You’ll need 2 small (500ml) ovenproof preserving jars or an acceptable earthenware terrine.

Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gasoline mark 4. Peel and finely chop the onion. Soften the butter in a deep pan over a low to average warmth, then add the chopped onion and go away to melt, stirring occasionally. Chop the thyme and rosemary, and stir into the softening onion.

Take away the rind from the bacon, then chop the rashers finely. Put the pork mince in a mixing bowl and add the bacon. Take away the pan from the warmth, then add the cooked onion to the minced pork. Season with the bottom mace, ½ tsp of salt and loads of black pepper. Crush the juniper berries utilizing a pestle and mortar. Chop the dried apricots then combine into the pork along with the crushed juniper berries, the contemporary cranberries and the marsala or brandy. Test all is combined effectively then push into the jars or terrine.

Cowl the floor of the combination with the bacon rashers, tucking them down the aspect of the jars, then press the bay leaves, juniper berries and cranberries into the floor. Cowl loosely with the lid (don’t seal with the metallic clip) or cowl the highest with baking parchment, safe with string or a rubber band, then tin foil.

Half fill a roasting tin with sizzling water, place the jars or terrine into the water so it comes midway up the perimeters. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes. Go away to chill within the switched-off oven, then take away and refrigerate in a single day.

To make the chutney, peel the onions, then halve and lower every half into quarters. Separate the layers of onion. Heat the olive oil in a deep, heavy-based pan. Add the onions and allow them to cook dinner for 10-Quarter-hour, or till gentle and translucent.

Lower the dried apricots in half and add to the onions, then peel and finely grate within the ginger and the lemon zest. Stir within the caster sugar, then, because the combination begins to bubble, introduce the cider vinegar. Partially cowl with a lid and go away over a low warmth.

Peel the apples, quarter and core them, then roughly chop. Add the apples to the pan, then the juice of the lemon. As soon as the apples begin to collapse, halve the cherry tomatoes and stir them in.

Add salt and, if you want, some coarsely floor black pepper, then bottle and seal. You need to get a few decent-sized jars out of it.

It is going to maintain, relying on the difficulty you go to seal it (sterilised jars, please) for a great few weeks in a cool place. Generally I crack a pomegranate and add its ruby seeds to the chutney on the desk.

Pink cabbage with apple and stilton

Red cabbage with apple and stilton.
Pink cabbage with apple and stilton. {Photograph}: Jonathan Lovekin/The Observer

The wine vinegar and fruit jelly melts to offer a sweet-sour dressing for the cabbage. Sweetness typically works reasonably effectively with blue cheese, although port has by no means rung my bell. Higher, I feel, are candy white wines, even muscats.

Any blue cheese is a buddy to cabbage – a favorite winter salad of mine includes tossing shredded white cabbage with slices of pear and smoked, salted almonds. A pale, crisp and nutty accompaniment.

Serves 2-3
crimson cabbage 600g
juniper berries 8
apples 2
groundnut oil 3 tbsp
white wine vinegar 150ml
quince, apple or redcurrant jelly 3 tbsp
blue cheese 200g, such stilton or stichelton

Finely shred the cabbage and wash it in chilly water. Crush the juniper berries with a heavy weight, akin to a mortar or the tip of a rolling pin. Lower the apples in half, then into segments, coring them as you go.

In a big pan, heat the groundnut oil over a average warmth then add the cabbage, juniper berries and apple, letting them cook dinner, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes till the cabbage has began to chill out and the apples are tender reasonably than crisp.

Pour within the white wine vinegar and let it sizzle. Add the fruit jelly and stir in order that it melts and frivolously coats the cabbage. Elevate out with a draining spoon on to a serving dish. Crumble the cheese over the cabbage and apple, and serve.

Roast duck with candy potatoes and rosemary salt

Roast duck with sweet potatoes and rosemary salt.
Roast duck with candy potatoes and rosemary salt. {Photograph}: The Observer

I might devour duck fats on toast, unfold thick like butter and sprinkled with just a few flakes of sea salt. A pot of it within the fridge is especially helpful at the moment of 12 months – use it as an alternative of olive oil to baste meats within the oven – it’s particularly good with hen, unfold over the pores and skin earlier than roasting. Potatoes which might be cooked in it soak it up, then crisp deliciously. Seasoned with thyme or rosemary and loads of salt, there’s nearly no higher cooking medium for roasting a hen. In fact, goose fats – even higher – will probably be alongside quickly, saved in a pot within the fridge each will maintain for a number of weeks.

Serves 4
duck legs 4
rosemary leaves 4g
sea salt 1 tbsp
candy potatoes 800g
duck fats 4 tbsp

The evening earlier than, take away the duck legs from any packaging, place on a tray or dish and refrigerate, uncovered, in a single day. This may dry out their skins and assist them cook dinner crisply.

Put the rosemary leaves and sea salt in a spice mill or food processor and course of to a rough inexperienced powder – you possibly can use a pestle and mortar should you choose. Rub the duck legs with somewhat of the duck fats then rub the herb salt into them.

Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gasoline mark 4. Peel the candy potatoes and lower them in 1cm thick slices. Rub a roasting tin or baking dish giant sufficient to take the duck legs with the remaining duck fats, then place the slices of candy potato, barely overlapping, over the floor. You’ll have sufficient for two or three layers, relying in your dish. Place the seasoned duck legs on high of the potatoes and place within the oven and go away for 50 minutes or till the duck is nut brown and crisp. Take away the duck and put aside in a heat place to relaxation.

Flip the oven as much as 200C fan/gasoline mark 8. Holding the potatoes in place, rigorously pour a lot of the duck fats right into a bowl for one other time, leaving a few tablespoons behind within the tin. Return the roasting tin to the oven for 10 minutes. You need to get somewhat browning on the floor of the potatoes.

Serve the duck with the candy potatoes, spooning over any juices and duck fats remaining within the pan.

Baked quince with maple syrup

Baked quince with maple syrup.
Baked quince with maple syrup. {Photograph}: The Observer

Quince graces us with its presence all through the winter however might be most considerable at Christmas. The fruit – deep yellow, aromatic – sit patiently in a blue and white bowl on the kitchen counter, ready for me to show them into jam. They’re a cooks’ fruit, like gooseberries, damsons and rhubarb, and want each warmth and sugar, or maybe honey or maple syrup, to sweeten them.

I bake mine, however prefer to poach them first in a lightweight syrup. A quince is just good when it’s so gentle it’s on the snapping point. They reply to sugar but additionally cloves, cinnamon quills and stars of anise, the prettiest of all spices.

Serves 4
caster sugar 8 heaped tbsp
water 1 litre
quince 2 giant
lemon 1, halved
cloves 3
maple syrup 4 tbsp
star anise 2

In a deep saucepan giant sufficient to take the quince, carry the sugar and water to the boil and add the cloves. Peel the quince, rub all of the lower sides with lemon, and halve them from stalk to base. Utilizing a teaspoon, take away the core and seeds to go away a small, deep hole.

Put the quince into the syrup – they need to match snugly – and decrease the warmth to a simmer. Go away them to cook dinner until gentle and completely tender, a matter of a great 30-40 minutes, relying on their ripeness. Take away from the warmth and put aside of their syrup. (You may bake them now, or refrigerate and cook dinner later.)

Preheat the oven to 160C fan/gasoline mark 4. Utilizing a big spoon, switch the quince to a roasting tin or baking dish, lower aspect up. Pour over 150ml of the cooking syrup and the maple syrup. Add the star anise and bake for half-hour. Flip the warmth to 200C fan/gasoline mark 8 and proceed cooking for 10 minutes to scale back and barely thicken the syrup.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here