No turkey? No problem: Three Christmas dinner alternatives

Roast lamb with potatoes is a traditional Christmas Day meal in Greece  (Getty/iStock)
Roast lamb with potatoes is a traditional Christmas Day meal in Greece (Getty/iStock)

‘Tis the season for festive feasts — but don’t think that means you have to settle for yet another turkey dinner.

We’ve asked some of our favourite chefs share three delicious Christmas recipes that break away from the traditional.

From a succulent Greek-style lamb roast and vibrant pomegranate and tomato braised cabbage, to a flavourful roast goose with perfect potatoes, these festive recipes satisfy even the most discerning palates.

Whether you’re struck by the turkey shortage, looking for a vegetarian showstopper or simply want to break the mould, these dishes from Asimakis Chaniotis (Pied à Terre), Helen Graham (Bubala) and Chet Sharma (BiBi) promise an unforgettable feast.

Christmas lamb Greek roast

By: Asimakis Chaniotis, executive chef at Pied à Terre

“A very traditional meal on Christmas Day in Greece is roasted lamb with potatoes. Pouring the white wine on the meat before cooking it – just a cheap dry white wine – will take off some of the smell of the lamb and make the flavour more complex.”

Ingredients:

1 small leg of lamb

100ml dry white wine

6 cloves garlic

100ml olive oil

4 tbsp dijon mustard

1L of water

Zest and juice of 2 lemons

1 tbsp oregano

10g table salt

Ground black pepper

8 large roasting potatoes, peeled and cut in wedges

6 small sprigs of rosemary

15g Maldon salt

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 150C.

2. First cut the potatoes and place them on a roasting tray evenly so that the lamb can stay elevated on top.

3. In a measuring jug mix the water, 2 tbsp of the mustard, zest and juice of 2 lemons, 50ml olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper well and pour on top of the potatoes, ensuring that they are evenly coated.

4. Take the leg of lamb, pour and spread the wine over it and leave for 5 minutes before patting the meat dry.

5. With a small pairing knife stab the leg of lamb and force a clove of garlic and a sprig of rosemary into the holes at 6 different points around the lamb.

6. Massage and spread the rest of the olive oil (50ml) and mustard (2 tbsp) onto the lamb evenly. Sprinkle with Maldon salt and place the lamb on top of the potatoes.

7. Place in the oven and cook for 3 hours.

8. Increase the heat to 185C and leave for a final 30-45 mins – this will give the meat a nice crispy finish and beautiful colour.

9. Leave the meat to rest for 30 minutes while keeping the potatoes warm then serve and enjoy!

Pomegranate and tomato braised cabbage

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By: Helen Graham, executive chef at Bubala

Serves: 2-4

Ingredients:

1 white or hispi (sweetheart) cabbage, cut into 4 wedges lengthways

Olive oil

1 white onion or 2 shallots, finely sliced

3 cloves garlic, finely sliced

1 bunch dill or coriander

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 tbsp ground coriander

3 tbsp tomato paste

2 tbsp pomegranate molasses or tamarind, plus some to garnish

20g dried mushrooms (optional), such as porcini, wild or shiitake

1L veg stock

100g basmati rice or pearl barley or fregola

1 lemon

Yoghurt or sour cream to serve

Method:

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Add 75ml olive oil to a pan, turn to medium high and brown each edge on each side. Remove from pan and set aside.

Turn pan down to medium and add a further 3 tbsp oil. Gently saute the onion and garlic, with a little pinch of salt. To this you can add the finely chopped stalks of your dill or coriander. Once soft and translucent, add the cumin and coriander and stir for a few mins.

Add the tomato and pomegranate molasses and cook for 5 mins whilst stirring. The paste should begin to darken and caramelise. Then add the stock and dried mushrooms and simmer for 10 mins gently. Add the rice and then nestle the wedges back into the pan. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 20 mins before turning the cabbage over and roasting for a further 10 mins.

Once out the oven sprinkle with dill and lemon and serve with yoghurt on the side.

Roast goose and perfect roast potatoes

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By: Chet Sharma, chef patron of BiBi

Roast goose

Ingredients:

4-5kg free-range organic goose

1 head of garlic, sliced in half

White pepper, for seasoning

50g honey

2 brown onions, diced

2 carrot, diced

2 sticks of celery, diced

5 sprigs of thyme, picked and chopped

2L white chicken stock

200ml port

100ml madeira

50g brandy

Tip: The key with any big cut of meat, but especially one like goose, is to bring the meat out of the fridge to temper for at least two hours. I would even push it to four or more hours if you have a cool spot at home to let the bird slowly come to temperature.

Method:

Take the legs off the goose (or ask your butcher to do this) and mix with half the garlic, a generous pinch of salt and white pepper, then rub into the skin-side of the goose legs. Leave for an hour or two at room temperature to let the seasoning penetrate the skin.

Heat the oven to 160C.

Layer half carrots, onions and celery at the bottom of the tray, mix with the chicken wings, neck and any other trim from the goose. Top with the legs, cover with tin foil and roast for one hour.

Take the legs out of the tray and pass two tablespoons of the goose fat from the tray into a clean pan. Add the remaining vegetables and cook on a medium heat for around ten minutes. Add the remaining garlic and the goose trim to the pan, adding the white chicken stock, or water. Leave on the heat for at least two hours.

Meanwhile, turn the oven up to 230C. Score and season the goose crown with salt.

Place the legs on the base of a clean baking tray. Top with the goose crown and place in the very hot oven. Roast for 25minutes, or until a meat probe placed in the thickest part registers over 50C and the skin is nicely rendered.

Remove the goose crown, brush with honey and season again with salt, white pepper and thyme. Place back in the oven for 5-10 minutes.

Remove the goose crown and legs from the oven and cover with tin foil. Leave to rest for an hour. In this time, finish the sauce.

Strain off the goose fat and deglaze the roasting tin with the alcohols. Strain off the goose stock from step four and cook down until you achieve a glossy, well reduced gravy. If you prefer a thicker gravy, you can reduce down further or add some slaked cornflour.

Pour any resting juices which have collected under the goose into the jus. Taste and adjust seasoning if required.

Perfect roast potatoes

Ingredients:

500g goose fat

1kg Maris Piper potatoes

Salt

5 sprigs of thyme

1 sprig of sage

1 sprig of rosemary

2 bay leaves

2 tsp white peppercorns

1 head of garlic, split in half

Method:

Peel and cut your potatoes into the size you require (I like big pieces; three or four from a really large potato). Wash the cut potatoes in lots of cold running water, for at least five minutes.

Mix together all of the ingredients – except the salt – in a large saucepan. Slowly bring the fat up to a low simmer for 15 minutes. Test the potato with a fork – they should hold their shape but be tender and cooked through. Remove from the heat and leave the potato to cool in the fat. Strain and reserve the goose fat and the potatoes in the refrigerator. They will keep in the refrigerator for at least two days.

When cooking off the potatoes, heat the oven to 230C and place a heavy baking tray inside to pre-heat for at least 15-20 minutes.

Roast the potatoes for 20 minutes, then turn the heat down to 200C, toss the potatoes around and then roast for a further 15-20 minutes.

When the potatoes come out of the oven, generously season with fine sea salt, then serve immediately while glassy and crisp.