The 12 Tastes of Christmas

Celebrity Chef Nigel Slater shares the flavours that make Christmas a truly delicious season. 

Christmas is a magical time of year and as a cook, it can be the most rewarding. It’s a time of year to fill the house with warming aromas and festive flavours.

Nigel Slater shares with us his 12 favourite tastes of the season,  and sprinkles some festive cheer on a few delicious dishes, all in the name of indulging and celebrating this tasty time of year.

Don't miss the Australian premiere of 'Nigel Slater's 12 Tastes of Christmas' on December 20 at 8.30pm only on LifeStyle FOOD.

1) Cranberries – It’s magnificent colour and flavour can give taste to any dish and for Nigel it is this colourful little fruit that heralds Christmas. Nigel’s Sticky Cranberry Sausages are the perfect way to have yourself a very berry Christmas! He slowly cooks up some red onions so they become sticky and  a  little bit jammy, then pops in some little chipolatas as the onion starts to soften. He then adds in some cranberry jelly, a handful of cranberries (fresh or frozen) and cooks through on a low heat.

2) Ginger – Flavours unlock memories and spicy ginger takes Nigel right back to his childhood and the magic of the season. And what could be more Christmasy than Nigel’s ‘Gingerbread Biscuits and Ginger Fizz’. The children can hang these decorations on a tree or gobble them down fresh from the oven.

3) Nuts – It’s impossible not to get in the mood with a bowlful of shiny nuts. Even though they are great to snack on, they also make the perfect base for a delicious meal like a nut roast. Nigel uses cooked chestnuts and a sprinkle of macadamias - and he cooks them up with dried porcini mushrooms and green beans. 

4) Cloves -  Cloves are the most aromatic and flavoursome of the spices at Christmas time and nothing captures the essence of cloves more than mulled wine. Every family have their own recipe but the key to good ‘Glogg’ is getting the perfect balance between sweet and spicey.

5) Cinnamon - One sniff of the cinnamon jar and Nigel feels like it’s Christmas Eve.  It’s always good to have a few wintry dishes which are full of spices and what tastes and looks like Christmas on a plate? It’s Nigel’s ‘Mulled Lamb’ dish.

6) Cheese –  For Nigel, ripe Stilton is one of the absolute essential tastes of Christmas and melting Stilton in pastry pockets warm from the oven is the ultimate festive snack. Enjoy with a glass of wine in hand.

7) Goose – One of the biggest decisions at Christmas is what bird is going into the oven. Turkey or goose? Nigel loves the dark meat  of goose with all it’s fat. You needn’t worry about the goose being too dry with Nigel’s delicious ‘Roast Goose with Chickpea and Lemon Stuffing’ recipe. There are few meals as highly anticipated as the Christmas Day roast. 

8) Salmon –  As it is such a fresh and versatile fish, Nigel has a few new ways of working this taste into Christmas. For canapes Nigel’s ‘Smoked Salmon & Garlic Cream’ is so simple yet decadent - roast up a whole garlic head, drop the inside into a food processor along with some dill and double cream. Then serve up with some crispy crispbread! Or salmon can make a light and colourful feature dish - such as ‘Salmon Wellington’.

9) Orange – One of the flavours and smells that instantly says it’s Christmas for Nigel. Whole juicy oranges make a perfect base for a fruit salad, a refreshing dish with lots of great flavours. 

10) Marzipan – Nigel loves this stuff and admits that we all need something sweet to reach for on Christmas day afternoon. He combines marzipan in his berry cupcakes to really bring out that festive flavour. 

11) Ham – Every Christmas, Nigel loves to have a succulent ham in the house. Nigel covers his ham with a bacon crust - bacon rashers marinated with maple syrup and black treacle (3 tablespoons of each). He thinks the best way to cook a ham is to poach it in apple juice along some black peppercorns,  a bay leaf and a couple of stars of anise - so it has a very gentle aniseed flavour. Nigel serves it up with some delicious roast pumpkin. 

12)  Sprouts – There’s always that moment when you think am I ever going to use up those Christmas leftovers? What better to cook up with leftovers than those Christmas greens that didn’t make the big day roast in Bauble & Squeak. The injection of freshness and vitality into a pan of rich, sweet flavours is amazing. 

What are your favourite flavours of Christmas? 

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