CHRISTMAS DINNER ALTERNATIVES

There’s nothing like a delicious Christmas dinner – cooked with premium-quality ingredients or locally-sourced fayre – to pull in customers over the festive season.

Whether you’re going all-out and serving turkey and all the trimmings, or you’re planning to serve Christmas-themed canapes or light bites, offering something a little bit different may well win you a whole new clientele.

So, how can you do just that? Sure, veggie and vegan meals will be on your menu when December rolls around, but what else can you offer diners that’ll get them sharing your perfect plates on social media? Here’s some inspiration ahead of December 25…

Introduce New and Exciting Dishes from Around the World

While the following dishes aren’t exactly new to the countries or regions they hail from, they may well be novel to your regulars. After all, most diners will expect a turkey or duck main on your festive menu, but will they be rooting for an Aussie-style barbecue or a Filipino Midnight feast? Probably not.

The former is a ‘down-under’ style affair with an avocado and seafood salad for starter and grilled chicken breast or stick for main, while the latter is a Christmas ham, served with queso de bola –a ball of cheese coated in red wax – and plenty of noodles.

Meanwhile, instead of steaming a Christmas pudding, a fresh fruit salad is usually on offer in this traditional Filipino event. Pick up some more ideas for a Christmas soiree like no other by heading here.

It’s Game On this Christmas!

While many chefs love cooking with game meat, others shy away from it; do a quick Google search and you’ll see a multitude of guides on cooking with everything from partridges to rabbits and even squirrel. The fact is, it’s a confidence thing for some.

Big Hospitality makes a case for giving turkey the swerve and treating diners to something a little bit different this Christmas. In its article ‘To turkey or not to turkey: what meat is best for Christmas menus?’, Stosie Madi, chef at The Parkers Arms in Newton in Bowland, Lancashire, says to overlook turkey could prove ‘suicidal’ for caterers.

Having said that, though, the much-loved festive favourite isn’t dished up at The Parker’s Arms over Christmas. Instead, it’s a ‘turkey-free zone’, with Stosie choosing to make the most of the game ‘available on her doorstep’ in the run up to December 25.

While everywhere else is plating up turkey, Stosie says it’s nice to offer something else – and though it’s still traditional, it’s ‘not that traditional’.

Educating the venue’s clientele to enjoy it, the chef says the game-focused menu is a big hit with customers. Why not give it a go, too? BBC Good Food provides a tempting game-based recipe here, which can be adapted to suit your own ingredients and clientele.

Or serve venison gourmet-style as an appetising starter, as pictured below.

Turn ‘Sunday Meals’ into Festive Centrepieces

Your pub or restaurant’s Christmas day offering doesn’t have to include a traditionally festive bird. Instead, make like Stosie from The Parkers Arms (as above) and get creative with something else entirely.

Consider taking the meats you’d normally serve for your weekly Sunday dinner and transforming them into something a little more appropriate for a Christmas celebration. Pomegranate-glazed roast beef, festive golden five-spice chicken or Mamita Naty’s roast suckling pig are all recipes you can give your own slant to.

The Independent suggests rules around Christmas dinner – and what we expect to serve or be served – and there to be broken. “It’s close to heretical to suggest something other than turkey and all the trimmings, in fact, industry group British Turkey says we ate around 10 million turkeys at Christmas last year and that it was the main course for around 76 per cent of us.”

This Christmas, Nigel Slater says he’s opting for a small rib of roast beef for Christmas dinner, though. It’s a last-minute decision that has ‘much to do with the possibility of scrumptious leftovers as it does the thought of rose-pink flesh and the richest, glossiest gravy’.

Break with tradition this year, too – and give diners something to shout about.

Try an Informal Christmas ‘Dinner’

There are no hard and fast rules that suggest that Christmas dinner must be a formal, sit-down affair. So, why not consider a buffet-style offering or even an afternoon tea for December 25?

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