Alternative Christmas Day Recipes from Some of Our Favourite Chefs

Alternative Christmas Day Recipes from Some of Our Favourite Chefs

Why settle for dry turkey and fruitcake when you can eat West African groundnut turkey stew and Fergus Henderson's baked apples with mincemeat?

Bitter, overcooked sprouts. Soggy roasties. Claggy stuffing. Sad and shrivelled pigs in blankets. Crestfallen faces as Dad's electric carving knife whirs through the turkey breast to reveal dry meat for yet another year.

Christmas dinner doesn't have to be this way. What if you could feast and be merry without subjecting yourself to such a litany of festive food crimes?

Well, maybe you can. As it's the time for giving, we asked some of our favourite chefs to share their ideas for alternative Christmas dinner recipes. And like the most cheery of workshop elves, they happily obliged.

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First up: turkey. Because no matter how "alt" you want your Xmas feast, it's hard to feel 100-percent festive without a bird on the table.

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Turkey groundnut stew.

But forget fretting over weight-to-cooking-time ratios, take direction from West African food collective The Groundnut and stick the bird in their low-and-slow turkey groundnut stew instead.

RECIPE: Turkey Groundnut Stew

London-based Duval Timothy, Jacob Fodio Todd, and Folayemi Brown usually make their stew with chicken but it easily substitutes for turkey. When those joints are fried off with caramelised onion and garlic, and smothered in groundnut butter, you'll wonder why you ever bothered with Delia. Stock, tomato purée, a fiery Scotch bonnet pepper, and a little bit of patience make for a centrepiece stew that knocks the socks off any turkey crown.

And for the veggies in the room? The Groundnut guys have also got you covered. Nut roast is banned this year, it's all about the chickpea egusi.

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Chickpea egusi.

The Groundnut boys say: "In West Africa, the seeds of the egusi melon are a common component of the soups that are integral to daily life. Coarsely ground up, they thicken stews, adding texture and another layer of flavour."

The egusi's base sauce is made with garlic, onions, tomatoes, chopped Scotch bonnet, paprika, and stock to warm your cockles. The ground egusi seeds are added to thicken the stew before more tomatoes, a red pepper, chickpeas, and spinach are stirred in.

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RECIPE: Chickpea Egusi

Traditionally festive it ain't, but the egusi's red and green hues score way higher on the Christmas scale than a beige mushroom Wellington.

Check you don't totally fill up on stews, though. You need to leave room for sides, namely salt baked beets.

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Salt-baked beets.

This recipe comes from East London's latest barbecue star, Dave Carter of Smokestak in Shoreditch. It would be easy to dismiss Carter as yet another meathead but his sides are just as lit as what's on the grill. Literally.

Super seasonal beetroot is baked on a bed of rock salt until just tender. Skin peeled and beets chopped, goat cheese is crumbled on top and blow-torched to caramelise.

RECIPE: Salt-Baked Beets

A beetroot reduction and hazelnuts are then added as a final touch to these salt-baked beets. Carter says: "The sweetness of the beetroot reduction with the sharpness of the cabernet sauvignon vinegar and tart bite of goat cheese cuts right through the richness of any stew."

Now it's time for the good stuff: dessert. We've got two twists on festive staples.

First on the table looks like a Christmas pudding, contains nuts and dried fruit like a Christmas pudding, but is in no way, shape, or form a Christmas pudding.

rice

Shanghai eight-treasure rice.

Enter London-based Chinese food writer Fuchsia Dunlop and her Shanghai eight-treasure glutinous rice. The fruity pudding is taken from Dunlop's latest book Land of Fish and Rice: Recipes from the Culinary Heart of China, and comprises sweet and sticky rice concealing a red bean paste heart. And those eight treasures?

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RECIPE: Shanghai Eight-Treasure Glutinous Rice

"The 'eight treasures' are the fruits, nuts, and seeds used to ornament the dish," explains Dunlop. "Feel free to express your creativity with the decorations. Many Chinese cooks add pine nuts or strands of multi-coloured candied fruit. Old-fashioned candied angelica would work well."

RECIPE: Baked Apples with Mincemeat

Just when you thought that you couldn't possibly eat anymore, culinary legend Fergus Henderson slipped us his recipe for St. John's baked apples with mincemeat.

apple-baked-st-john-mincemeat

Baked apples with mincemeat.

Whipping up homemade mincemeat is the hard part but once you have a batch ready, simply spoon it into cored apples and bake. Best served with lashings of steaming custard.

All there is to do now is kick back on the sofa with a chocolate selection box of your choice and sleep it off until the Boxing Day leftovers feast begins.

Illustrations by Alice Duke.

This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES in December 2016.