At Christmas time, pantries across the world are stocked to the brim with festive goodies, the snow drizzled huts of Christmas markets are loaded with all manner of tastes and smells, and the tables of every house are loaded with delicious joy. It truly is one of the greatest things about the festive season. Christmas puddings smothered in rum, sumptuous turkeys embellished by vegetables, smooth golden eggnog filling frosted glass - the list goes on and on, with every nation and culture adding its own special ingredient or dish to the table.
At our home town of York, up in beautiful Yorkshire, we truly embrace everything about Christmas, but especially the food. We take the British Christmas dinner table and add Yorkshire's inimitable stamp to it, taking all that is great about one of Britain's finest counties and adding it to festive proceedings. With that in mind, this is all about the Yorkshire Christmas dinner so join us as we take a short gastronomic tour of the highlights.
We'll start with what is widely regarded as the centrepiece of Christmas dinners across the world: the Christmas turkey. Sat proud and handsome on a grand plate in the middle of the table, the turkey is the perfect bird for Christmas. Filled with stuffing, it just about complements everything else on the table, and indeed, is complemented by everything else. Offered up with a simple cranberry jam and/or an indulgent gravy, a hearty portion of turkey is sure to find its way onto most Yorkshireman and Yorkshirewoman's plate.
Moving on, what Yorkshire based meal would be complete with that truly and uniquely Yorkshire offering - the humble Yorkshire Pudding. Made up of some of the most basic ingredients available such as egg, milk, flour and water, the Yorkshire Pudding is glorious in its simplicity, gracing the plates of Yorkshire pubs and restaurants for hundreds of years. Paired with gravy, the pudding can be combined with sausage to make what's known as a toad-in-the-hole, or can be simply eaten on its own. Devised originally when Yorkshire cooks came up with a way to use excess animal fat to create a batter pudding with egg and flour, the Yorkshire Pudding can be manipulated into a variety of shapes and sizes. A popular manner of serving is by stretching the batter as far as possible to create a plate or bowl shape, which is then filled with typical roast offerings. Another, more modern way is to create a wrap out of the Yorkshire pudding batter. A staple of a Sunday roast, it is little surprise that this magnificent dish finds its way onto the Yorkshire Christmas menu.
Every Yorkshire citizen is a fan of good meat offerings, and further down the table can be found a plate of pigs-in-blankets. These delicious little numbers are the perfect small side dish, providing a nice shot of tasty goodness alongside the larger morsel of the Christmas Turkey. These treats are actually an American invention, harking back to 1957 and making their way across the Atlantic a little later in the century.
Next on the shopping list is the ever-divisive green vegetable that has split families and haunted children for countless years: the notorious Brussel sprout. Precious few Christmas dinners have not seen a child forced to overcome these vicious opponents in relentless pursuit of the hallowed Christmas chocolate log. Arriving from Belgium around 400 years ago, these mini-cabbages are a must on the Yorkshire Christmas dinner. For those not so keen on the schismatic sprout, there is always the goose fat-dripped roast potato to go for. Combining the superb crispy exterior with a warm, and soft interior, a Christmas chef can never go wrong with the roast potato, and when combined with flavoursome sauces and gravy, there are few vegetables better.
A not-often included entry on our menu, and a dish which is entirely unique to Yorkshire is the Yorkshire Christmas Pie. It's omission in today's Christmas meals may have something to do with the wide variety of meats put inside it. The Yorkshire Christmas Pie featured four to six different birds, wrapped in the meat of the other, and these birds could include pheasant, turkey, swan, goose, duck and chicken. Often used as an indicator for the wealth of the household due to the price, these impressive creations are a monument to that greatest of Yorkshire creations, the meat pie. The sheer size and magnitude of this definitively Yorkshire dish is astonishing, and has become a rarity these days.
After charging our way through layer after layer of Christmas goodness, hopefully guests will have that little bit more space for the grand finale: the wonderful traditional Christmas pudding. A British invention, dating back to the 14th century and adorning Christmas dinner tables ever since, the grand Christmas pudding is made up of dried fruits such as raisins and dates, all held together by a mouth-watering combination of sticky black treacle, a myriad of spices and egg. Occasionally coated in brandy or rum, the Christmas pudding can be set alight to make a true spectacle of this succulent Christmas desert.
Last, but naturally not least, come the drinks. The obvious choice is the glittering gold of eggnog, a heart-warming sliver of pure Christmas heartiness. This is the classic Christmas drink, a fantastic concoction which shouldn't work but truly does, made up of milk, cream, sugar and whipped eggs and sometimes a shot of brandy, rum or bourbon. Shortly after is the warm fuzz of a gentle mulled wine. Heated wine infused with mulling spices, just the smell of mulled wine is enough to transport families to the glittering lights of a merry Christmas market. Finally, for that Yorkshire touch, we'll add the glorious hearty offering of a pint of noble Yorkshire bitter from any of the fantastic breweries from the deep south of the county to the far north.
So there is your Yorkshire Christmas menu! A veritable banquet of delicious meat, vegetables, puddings and drink gracing houses from Sheffield to York, from Leeds to Scarborough, truly one of the greatest parts of the most wonderful time of the year.