Updated 22nd December 2021
Coeliac disease is for life even at Christmas. Which of course means no cheat days EVER on a gluten free diet. However, with so many amazing dedicated gluten free products now available and all the foods that are naturally gluten free, you really don’t need to miss out on anything. Including a rather terrific Christmas dinner.
I love making our Christmas dinner each year and to take the pressure off thinking I have to achieve perfection, I work on the basis that it is simply like putting together an extra special Sunday roast. And to make life easier, with no compromise to taste, I make sure everything on our Christmas dinner plate is gluten free.
If I were to have my Christmas dinner at somebody else’s house, I would run through with them what they were making to make sure all suitable for my gluten free and explain how best to prevent any risk of cross-contamination. Suggesting at this point that it would ideally be better to prepare a meal that was suitable for all dietary needs as this would make it a much safer and relaxing occasion for all.
It’s lovely hearing how other people set about preparing and enjoying their Christmas dinner. Sharing methods, ideas and quirks can quite often spark inspiration for others. So, just in time for the big day, I thought it would be nice to share with you what I get up to in our kitchen on Christmas Day and how I pop together my gluten free Christmas dinner.
As there are only three of us for our Christmas dinner (me, Neil and my dad), we opt for a turkey joint. I order this from our local butcher and pick it up on Christmas Eve. I love this tradition! The turkey joint is big enough to feed us well for Christmas dinner and still leave plenty to rustle up turkey and stuffing butties for tea.
To prepare the turkey for the oven; I pop it into a large roasting tray, pour in a touch of water and season the turkey skin with salt and *pepper before covering with foil. I tend to leave it out for about ½hr before putting it in the oven. Due to the size of our turkey joint it only takes about 1½ hours on 180C Fan to cook. For the final ½hr of cooking, I remove the foil and baste the turkey before returning it to the oven. Once fully cooked, I drain off and reserve the meat juices to make the gravy later (I tend to use the roasting tray to make the gravy in once the meat has been removed). I wrap the meat in foil and leave to rest on a plate for about 20 minutes before carving.
We have mash and roast potatoes on Christmas day. I always use Maris Piper potatoes as they make the most AMAZING mash and roasties (King Edward spuds are rather magic too!). I put enough peeled and chopped potatoes in a pan of water for both mash and roast, place on the heat and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 5-8 minutes.
I then add a good dessertspoon of goose fat to a deep roasting tin and pop it into the oven. Once the fat is hot, I remove the tray and with a slotted spoon (allowing any excess water to drain off) take enough potatoes for roasties from the water and gently lay them in the tray (just have to watch out for the fat spitting). I then pop the potatoes back in the oven (180C Fan) to cook for about an hour, checking them in-between and keep giving the tray a little shake or turn the potatoes with a spoon so they brown evenly.
I continue to simmer the remaining potatoes in the pan until cooked and then drain them, reserving the potato water for my gravy. I mash the potatoes, adding a good knob of butter (using my separate gluten free butter of course) and season to taste with salt and pepper before transferring to an ovenproof dish and covering with foil.
I pop the mash back in the oven about 10-15 minutes before I serve dinner up.
I only started including these in our Christmas dinner a few years and love them. I find one large parsnip is enough for two people.
I just peel and slice the parsnips up into really ‘chunky chips’ pop them in a pan of cold water, bring to the boil and continue to cook for about 10 minutes and then drain well. I then add a dessertspoon of goose fat to a roasting tin and heat in the oven for a few minutes. Once the fat is hot, I remove the tray from the oven, add the parsnips and put them back in the oven (180C Fan) to cook for about ¾ hour or until golden brown.
As with the potatoes I check them in-between cooking time and turn them to brown evenly.
Carrots and Swede
I have inherited both my mum’s and grandma’s steamers and love to use them to cook vegetables or to steam puddings. if I cook carrots on their own, I will always steam rather than boil them, as they taste so much better and are more vibrant in colour. However, when making mashed carrots and swede, I prefer to boil them as I feel the texture is better and also I love to use the veg water to make gravy, as it’s lovely and sweet and very tasty.
I’m a massive sprout lover, and in our house it’s compulsory we buy a ‘stick of sprouts’ for Christmas dinner.
After removing the sprouts from the stick, I whip off the outer leaves, score a little cross on the stalk with a sharp knife and pop into a steamer basket and steam for about 15 minutes.
Before I was diagnosed with coeliac disease, I would make my stuffing using standard Paxo stuffing as a base. Generally adding a finely diced onion, turkey stock and would then bake for about 20 minutes.
Paxo now do a gluten free stuffing, which is excellent. I’m also a huge fan of M&S ready-made stuffing. All M&S stuffing that is suitable for a gluten free diet is clearly marked up.
Last year I had a bash at making stuffing from scratch, after my lovely friend Lizzi, shared a treasured family stuffing recipe with me. I was honoured and delighted with the result!
Lizzi has given me the OK to pass on her family stuffing recipe to you too:
Pigs in blankets
Good old M&S offer up yummy pigs in blankets that are suitable for us gluten free lot. I always pick a pack of these up to enjoy with our Christmas dinner and there’s generally a few leftover to enjoy with our turkey and stuffing butty in the evening.
Again, like the stuffing, all M&S pigs in blankets packs indicate when ‘gluten free’ on the front of the pack.
For years I used Bisto Best chicken gravy, as despite it having a ‘may contain’ warning (which I would NEVER normally risk), it was listed in Coeliac UK food and drink directory as a safe product. However, I’ve since had conflicting information of its suitability and no longer include it within my gluten free diet.
My go to gluten free gravy is now Marigold instant gravy granules (marked up gluten free). To give this gravy mix a delicious homemade flavour, I switch the recommended boiling water for fresh turkey stock and enough veg water to make up the quantity of gravy I require. Once the turkey stock and veg water is simmering I gradually add enough granules to make a rather delicious gravy. These gravy granules do need a good old whisk to make the gravy nice and smooth and lump free!
Time to eat
I find it works best to plate all the dinner up for us on Christmas Day. If there was a few more of us, I’d pop everything on platters or in dishes and put on the table for people to help themselves. Things stay hotter that way and there is something very comforting about this way of dining.
I’m a huge Christmas pudding fan and to be honest this is the only pudding I’ve ever eaten after my Christmas dinner.
This year we will be eating homemade gluten free Christmas pudding. Other years I’ve picked myself up a tiny gluten free Christmas pudding from M&S and grabbed a standard pudding for Neil and my dad. However, I have also spotted a large gluten free Christmas pudding in M&S which would be perfect for us all.
We have to have lots of brandy sauce to pour over our Christmas pud!
My mum used to always make her own brandy sauce and I love to do the same. You can check out the recipe I use here if you like.
M&S also do a great brandy sauce which is currently suitable for a gluten free diet.
Years ago, we used to have cheese and biscuits after our Christmas dinner, but these days I’m far too full to indulge after a large meal. But I still like to pick up a nice selection of cheese, which I can enjoy with gluten free crackers and maybe a tipple of port, as and when I feel like it.
Although cheese is naturally gluten free, do watch out for the added ingredients or coatings that can make it unsafe for people with CD to eat.
OK so there you go, that’s what happens in our kitchen on the big day. Neil always prides himself that he doesn’t eat a Christmas dinner until the 25th December and looks forward to it so much. I always hope it lives up to his expectations.
Happy Christmas to you and all good things for 2022!
*Check to ensure no gluten containing ingredients or ‘may contain’ or ‘not suitable’ warnings on the pack. If in doubt leave it out.