10 recipes to cook in December

by Pete Dreyer1 December 2018

December might seem a little boring on the produce front, but there’s plenty to keep you going through the depths of winter. From delicious root vegetables and brassicas to homegrown British orchard fruits, here are ten incredible recipes that make the most of the month's bounty.

Pete worked as a food writer at Great British Chefs.

Pete worked as a food writer at Great British Chefs and trained at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London. Although there’s very little he won’t eat, his real passion is health and nutrition, and showing people that healthy food can be delicious too. When he’s not writing or cooking, you’ll probably find him engrossed in a bowl of pho.

Pete worked as a food writer at Great British Chefs.

Pete worked as a food writer at Great British Chefs and trained at Leiths School of Food and Wine in London. Although there’s very little he won’t eat, his real passion is health and nutrition, and showing people that healthy food can be delicious too. When he’s not writing or cooking, you’ll probably find him engrossed in a bowl of pho.

If winter already feels long and dark, fear not – there are fairy lights at the end of the tunnel. We’re mere weeks from Christmas now, which means all of those delicious yuletide things are just around the corner. Roast turkey! Pigs in blankets! Flaming puddings! Awkward conversations with relatives! We’ve got all that to look forward to.

But this is not the time for discussing Christmas dinner (you can find all our festive recipes here) – we have twenty-four days of December to get through first. Winter produce vibes are at their peak, and all the earthy root vegetables that come into season in October and November continue to be excellent through this month. Jerusalem artichoke, celeriac, squash, salsify and more are still in their prime, giving you loads of options for warm, comforting soups, stews, risottos, pastas and more.

If the vegetables don’t inspire you, there’s plenty of fruit coming to the fore this month. Clementines and satsumas are practically overflowing in the supermarkets, and there’s lots you can do with them, both sweet and savoury. Grapefruits are equally versatile, and are just coming to their best in December, and British apples and pears are also doing the rounds – particularly Bramleys, which start their three-four month season just before Christmas. Pomegranates – though they don’t grow in the UK – also abound in December, meaning it might be time to delve into some homely Middle Eastern favourites.

Though available year-round cauliflower season starts in mid-December, so you’ll start to see heritage varieties in greengrocers – it’s the perfect time to delve into our collection of cauliflower recipes, as they’ll never taste better!

December is your last chance to enjoy some game as well – grouse season is all but over, and prized birds like woodcock, snipe and mallard will be out of season in January. However, you can buy oven-ready pheasant and partridge in lots of butchers for the next month or two, or if you live in the country you can probably find a brace to pluck yourself. Venison season is still in full swing as well and makes a fantastic lean, sustainable alternative to beef.

Want even more inspiration? Read on for a selection of our favourite December recipes.

Harissa-marinated chicken with cauliflower

Nothing cuts through the cold like a cosy one-pot chicken dish, and Pollyanna Coupland’s comes laden with warming harissa and peperoncini to break through those icy winter evenings. Marinating your chicken thighs first gives you bags more flavour, but if you’re looking for a quick meal to throw together at the last minute, you can have this on the table in forty minutes – just roast your chicken with the marinade, mix in your cauliflower florets and garnish when cooked. Simple, delicious winter cooking.

Partridge with parsnip tart, sprouts and chestnuts

Paul Welburn was the deserved recipient of a Michelin star in 2018, and with dishes like these it’s easy to see why. Game season is still in full swing in December, so there’s plenty of room for a sophisticated partridge or pheasant dish at your dinner table. Paul goes for partridge and pairs it with seasonal accompaniments – sweet parsnip, chestnut and charred Brussels sprouts, all wrapped up in a buttery shortcrust tart. Paul cooks his partridge sous vide, but you can easily substitute for a gentle braise or an oven-roasting method if you like.

Spiced apple crumble slice

If someone made a list of all-time favourite British winter dishes, apple crumble would surely be guaranteed a top ten spot. Marcus Wareing’s spiced apple crumble is a significant evolution from your standard throw-it-in-the-oven job, but the extra effort is more than worth it. Marcus makes a shortbread base for his crumble, then tops it with apple compote and a crunchy crumble topping, creating beautiful layers. Finish the whole thing off with a rocher of good vanilla ice cream on top and you have a classic dessert worthy of any dinner party.

Turkey and stuffing sausage rolls

Alyn Williams’ turkey sausage rolls are a fantastic way of using up Christmas leftovers, and putting something impressive on the Boxing Day table – after all, who doesn’t love a sausage roll? Alyn doesn’t just use leftover meat; he's also managed to cram cranberry sauce and stuffing into his sausage mix, alongside onions, mushrooms and spices, before rolling and baking.

Salsify in blankets

Pollyanna Coupland’s ingenious salsify in blankets recipe is a rare thing indeed – a reinvention that might just be better than the original. The original is beloved for its fatty, salty, pork-on-pork delights, but trading the sausage for a baton of butter-roasted salsify gives you a far more balanced bite – the soft, sweet, nutty salsify really enhances the saltiness of the bacon. Give them a try – you might find yourself eating them long after Christmas has gone!

Cranberry blondies

Cranberries are all over the place during December thanks to Christmas. They’re not generally grown in the UK, but they come over the Atlantic in their millions, mostly to go into cranberry sauce at our Christmas dinner tables. There’s more you can do with them though – take advantage of the glut with Adam Byatt’s delicious cranberry blondies. White chocolate and cranberry is a sweet and tart match made in heaven, and these are incredibly simple to make. A perfect way to whip up a little Christmas treat for the family.

Caramelised Jerusalem artichoke soup, with burnt pear and walnut

We often find ourselves gravitating towards Chantelle Nicholson’s intelligent, vegetable-forward cooking, and this recipe is another that has quickly become one of our favourites. It’s easy to make, too – Chantelle roasts her pears in the oven, whilst caramelising her artichokes in butter and toasting off her walnut granola. Then you just finish your soup with milk and butter, blend to a nice consistency and there you have it – a delicious dinner! The aromatic sweetness of pear plays beautifully with the Jerusalem artichoke, which is given bags of depth and flavour thanks to the heavy caramelisation at the beginning.

Chilli roast cauliflower

Among the many delicious things at Selin Kiazim's Oklava, the chilli roast cauliflower is certainly the most popular – in fact, it lays a good claim to being one of London's great vegetarian dishes. It's dead simple to make too – make sure you rub the chilli paste into all the little nooks, then don't overcook it so it retains some crunch. A red onion and parsley salad provides some brightness to cut through that earthy chilli.

Venison bolognese fritters with Parmesan

Warm, crunchy and comforting, Adam Byatt's venison bolognese fritters are a brilliant way of extending a simple ragu into something a bit more enticing. If you're anything like us, a ragu is a good excuse to do some batch cooking – once you've had the first lot with some pasta, try freezing the second batch, then breadcrumbing and deep-frying for spectacular results.

Charred sprouts with orange zest, chestnuts and pancetta

Think you hate sprouts? Think again. Lots of us are scarred by sulphurous childhood memories of over-boiled sprouts, but Michael Bremner's method keeps them fresh and lively – just give them a quick char in a pan, then toss them with pancetta, chestnuts and orange zest. Delicious.


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