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As you look forward to sitting down to one of the best meals of the year Russell Jones explores the options available. 

I’m a big fan of Christmas although I refuse to even contemplate acknowledging it until at least the 1st of December. I know people start to get excited in mid-November, but for me the continual adverts and Christmas songs that inevitably arrive shortly after Bonfire Night are in danger of making me tired of it all before it’s happened.

So, when it really is right now upon us, one thing I am happy to contemplate in advance, is what we as a family will be putting on the Christmas table to tuck into. So, looking at what will be on offer in my house, how does this match what you’ll be sitting down to?

Turkey – of course, plus pigs in blankets, stuffing, roast potatoes, parsnips, carrots, Brussel sprouts with chesnuts, red cabbage and sweet potato mash, bread sauce, gravy and cranberry sauce.

We’ve got a bit of a challenge this year as my eldest has reverted to being a vegetarian, which I actually applaud because there’s far less of a carbon footprint in the production of vegetarian meals.  Thankfully my other daughter is a chef, so she is creating some sort of mushroom wellington.

We WILL NOT be adding Yorkshire Pudding! Nor will cauliflower be getting anywhere near our festive table (the very thought!). I can accept peas although we won’t be partaking but the American tradition of adding marshmallows to the sweet potatoes does little to lower my blood pressure.

I know some don’t like turkey so for me, beef is an acceptable option, but I personally remain a traditionalist.

There are only the four of us and it always amazes me how crazy shopping gets at this time of the year, especially as you can generally find somewhere open on Boxing Day, even if it's just a petrol station, so there seems little need for the panic buying that seems to grip everyone.

Christmas alternatives

Most of the main supermarkets also seem to offer Christmas dinner in a box for around the £30-50 mark, which certainly cuts down on the washing up.  For me though, part of the beauty of Christmas dinner is being able to go to the fridge in the following days to graze on leftovers!

However, if you’re looking for a way to avoid all the expense and hassle of filling your Christmas table, there are some alternatives available now such as Christmas Pizza, Christmas Lasagna, a battered Christmas and even Christmas in a tin!

Asda is selling the Christmas Pizza which is topped with chicken, roast potatoes and brussels sprouts, with a drizzle of cranberry sauce.

Sorry, but that in no way qualifies for Christmas in my book. OK, they’ve replaced the turkey with chicken but where’s the parsnips, pigs in blankets, carrots, red cabbage, bread sauce, stuffing and gravy?

The Christmas Dinner Lasagna is available at the Lasagna-only restaurant chain called appropriately enough, Mister Lasagna, whose four London stores will be selling this concoction, which contains turkey, roast potatoes, sprouts, pancetta and caramelised red onions, plus a béchamel sauce and (of course) cranberry sauce.

I can’t see whether they are open on Christmas Day so you may have to buy before and defrost for that special meal if that takes your fancy.

Have a Peri Christmas

There are also a lot of Christmas Burgers available if that is your thing. 

I quite like the approach of Nando's though, which looks to revamp the Christmas offering each year.  For this season, they have come up with the 'Mzansi Christmas Burger' - Mzansi means South Africa in one of the 11 official languages spoken there. 

Of course they've replaced turkey with Peri Peri chicken - what else would you expect at Nando's? The burger also includes a mushroom and chestnut pâté, festive coleslaw, crispy onions and cranberry sauce.

If you'd like something more traditionally 'British' then a Welsh chip shop in the village of Hirwaun near Aberdare may be more for you as they are offering a battered Christmas meal.

Anyone interested can buy individual items such as battered jumbo pigs in blankets; battered Brussels sprouts; battered turkey and stuffing meatballs.

Of course you then need to round off your festive meal with battered Christmas pudding and battered mince pies – also available.

Christmas in a tin

I’m still not entirely sure whether this is a joke as I’ve not managed to find a place to buy this tinned ‘delight’, but Christmas Tinner was definitely available in 2013 when Game produced it for those addicted to the latest gaming trend, who simply couldn’t stop for a moment.

There’s a lovely YouTube video from Steviejacko who heartily recommends the Christmas Tinner, so enjoy watching him eat through the Christmas breakfast, Christmas dinner and Christmas pudding – all from the same tin!

Surf and turf curry

This actually puts me in mind of my first year of college, when a remnant of students gathered all remaining food together in our communal kitchen to cook a last meal before heading home for the Christmas break. 

Our meagre supplies included rice, an onion and carrot, some spices, a tin of Fray Bentos Steak & Kidney Pudding, and a tin of mackeral.

I ending up cooking a ‘steak and kidney pie and mackerel’ curry using the full Fray Bentos pie straight out of the tin. The resulting mixture therefore had steak, gravy, pastry and oily fish.

Surprisingly enough though, it was really, really tasty, so maybe those Gamers do have something after all.

Just not for me and my family, thank you very much!

Happy Christmas everyone, wherever you are and whoever you are with.  

Russell Jones is Content and Communications Manager for Mitsubishi Electric, Living Environment Systems in the UK.

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