With many pubs now serving turkey throughout the year, it pays to try something a bit different for your Christmas menu. We offer up some alternative meat and vegetarian festive dishes.
The festive season is the busiest time of the year for pub caterers and it needs to be planned well in advance to avoid any disasters.
While a lot of pubs are already receiving bookings for Christmas lunches and dinners, it is worth considering now what you are going to offer in terms of food in addition to the regulation roast turkey with all the trimmings.
Okay, the Christmas turkey is a must for the menu which, incidentally, you need to keep as simple and labour-free as possible in case you experience staffing problems.
While in days gone by turkey only seemed to surface in December, these days it is available all year round.
What pub doesn't offer its customers turkey sandwiches? In short, a lot of people are bored with it.And don't forget the increasing number of vegetarians: how are you going to keep them happy?
While many publicans are, no doubt, planning to offer a Christmas spread straight out of a Dickensian novel - we are not advising a blanket ban on the traditional Christmas meal - many pubs will be offering alternatives to the traditional Christmas turkey out of necessity and opting for something different.
Be different and, if you have the staff and the skills, make everything in-house as this ensures quality, choice and profitability. Having said that, the quality of pre-prepared foods these days, in particular turkey joints and Christmas puddings, is very high and with time at a premium they are often the best option for a lot of caterers.
But what are the alternatives to turkey and Christmas pudding?
This month's recipes, compiled by consultant chef Tony O'Reilly, include an excellent fillet of British pork with apple and coarse grain mustard. For other ideas using British beef, pork or lamb, the Meat & Livestock Commission's development team in Milton Keynes has plenty of recipe suggestions.
For vegetarians, we offer two very interesting dishes - Chestnut and Cranberry En Croute and Winter Wraps with Sweet and Sour Peppers (see picture on front cover). More vegetarian menu ideas are available from the Vegetarian Society on 0161 925 2000 or by visiting their website at www.vegsoc.org
On the dessert front, try our Cranberry Steamed Sponge Pudding.
Christmas is to be enjoyed and it doesn't have to be headache. Keep ahead of the game - and, most importantly, don't bite off more than you can chew.
Winter Wraps with Sweet and Sour Peppers
Cranberry Steamed Sponge Pudding
Duet of Crisp Roast and Lightly Grilled Duckling with Caramelised Strawberry and Orange Sauce
Ricotta Cheese Pancakes
Chestnut and Cranberry 'En Croute'
Fillet of Pork with Apple and Coarse Grain Force
All this talk about Christmas got you thinking? Well check out our articles on Christmas parties and Christmas menus!