I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas. My family have always had a hot lunch on Christmas day with all the trimmings. Some of my earliest memories are of watching my Nanna on Christmas day, trussing chickens and turkeys ready for the oven (yes in sweltering heat!). But as much as I love the roasted meats, crunchy cholesterol raising baked potatoes and near burnt blackened pumpkin, it is the little side dishes and jugs of condiments that are hidden among the Christmas crackers, that I crave for every year.
Our family are a gravy family. Always have been always will be. Some children are raised on breast milk, my brother and I were raised on gravy. Plain and simple, it’s not a roast dinner without gravy. Now I’m not talking about that powdered stuff you buy in cans and mix with hot water. I’m talkin’ the rich pan juices that are left after roasting your meat and are flavour ridden with garlic and rosemary or other delicious combinations. Mixed with a little flour, cooked out and then some hot stock added. I have been known to add left over bits of quince paste, the last drops of red wine, or some local verjuice. All adds to the flavour.
When the food techy and I met, one of the first meals I had with his parents was a roast lamb dinner. To my absolute horror, it came without gravy. I looked around the table in utter desperation seeking that golden liquid…but it was in vain. I remember thinking that this was a pivotal moment in our relationship, such was my quest and desire to have gravy. I could stay or I could go. I excused myself from the table, headed to the kitchen and shouted out to his parents…”Sorry I need gravy….I’ll make it though!!”. To this day my father in law “Papa” looks forward to me placing a large jug of gravy in front of him at roast dinner time. I guess I was accepted for who I am and yes I stayed?!
But its not just the gravy. Gravy is king, but it is to be accompanied by its many subjects. White sauce for the cauliflower, apple sauce to dip crunchy pork crackling, Yorkshire puddings if beef makes an appearance, mint sauce for the lamb, lemon and pancetta stuffing for the roast chook. For the Christmas turkey and ham….well it has to be a sweet and spiced jelly. This one’s a beauty! A jewel like Red Wine Jelly. Enjoy …….and don’t forget to pass the gravy!