Break with convention and why not give the turkey a miss this Christmas?

Roast Leg of Spring Lamb, one of the joints selected by SuperValu for a perfect Easter roast dinner. Served with Boulangere potatoes and mint sauce.
Roast Leg of Spring Lamb, one of the joints selected by SuperValu for a perfect Easter roast dinner. Served with Boulangere potatoes and mint sauce.

While you fret over what oven temperature to cook your turkey, spare a thought for the people of Puerto Rico.

Their traditional Christmas lunch is lechon or a whole suckling pig.

It requires being spit roasted over two days in the lead up. They enjoy an egg nog, while tending to the fire, made of coconut milk, condensed milk and a liberal dash of rum. You’d need more than the obligatory customary nap at 4 o’clock on Christmas Day after that lot.

This year I’m taking inspiration from Norway for what I’ll be cooking for Christmas lunch. The hard core among Norwegians enjoy Smalhore or a whole sheep head. A less adventurous dish there is pinnekjolt or lamb ribs. I’m going down the more crowd pleasing route of slow cooked lamb shoulder. This year I’m doing Christmas in my own house for the first time in years so I’ve decided to break with convention at least a little bit. The avoidance of turkey is a result of three inescapable facts. Firstly, I don’t particularly like it - like sprouts you have to douse it in lashings of butter and bacon to make it palatable and even then it comes down to where you get the bird. Secondly, it takes up all the room in the oven. And lastly the sight of that humungous carcass lingering afterwards is one that never puts a smile on your face. If you’re going for turkey and all the trimmings buy a decent free range one, after all its usually a once a year thing. My first recipe is for slow roasted lamb shoulder with a nod to Italy in the accompaniments. Golden raisins soaked in vermouth alongside lemon give a sweet and sour flavour. Garlic, fennel and lemon add aroma and the whole thing is finished off with fresh zingy parsley and warm toasted almonds. Rather than buck convention, this would make a great meal for the day after Boxing Day when you’ve had your fill of turkey sandwiches. And no I’m not going to miss them either….

Realising it would be a step too far to mess with traditions too much, there will be Christmas pudding served on the day. It’s probably a good notion to have an alternative as it’s not to everyone’s taste. My other recipe is for orange, clementine and Prosecco trifle with Italian biscuits on the side instead of sponge. The custard is white chocolate and the topping should be garish golden sugar balls.

Whatever you do have a very happy Christmas. Dinner might just be in Puerto Rico next year……