You know what? We've got pretty damn good at Christmas.
It's not that we're miserable and anti-social and stuff, but Mrs L and I do like spending "The Big Day" on our own, at home. It's lovely being with the family and we thoroughly enjoy doing that between Christmas and the New Year but Christmas Day for us is about the simple pleasures. And about spreading the eating across a decent period of time. Seriously, my family thought I disliked Christmas Pudding for years. I don't, I adore the stuff, but within a few minutes of finishing the largest roast meal of the year? It's the last thing I want to see.
So, Christmas chez Lambshank is a gentle affair. We'll have a good bottle of Champagne with breakfast. We'll open our presents. We'll make the relevant phone calls to friends and family. We'll have a starter about 1pm and open a good bottle of something. We'll have the main meal around 5ish and finish the good bottle of something and open a second good bottle of something. Most years we don't even make it to something sweet and, instead, just hit some Neal's Yard Dairy and Mons cheeses in front of the telly around 8pm. Probably with the remains of bottle two and/or some good port. It's bliss.
And 2009 was the best ever and, thanks in no small part to Richard Corrigan, the easiest too. We usually prep the veg the day before anyway, and par-boil what we can. This time we did the same for the turkey too. As well as producing the most beautiful moist meat, it left us with three litres of rather good chicken stock, now bolstered by turkey juices, tarragon, onion and butter. It also meant cooking Christmas Lunch on the day itself took about an hour which meant I got to see The Gruffalo. Which was lovely.
We also, of course, over-estimated the amount of vegetables required but that was mostly deliberate. Plus It was a hell of a plateful: turkey, glorious golden roast potatoes, some excellent fondant potatoes (because: a) decadence IS two types of potato; and b) we had three litres of excellent stock to recycle), roasted carrots, carrot and swede mash, roasted parsnips, sausage meat, stuffing, Giggly Pigs in smokey blankets, leeks (freshly picked THAT morning off the allotment) and brussels, fried up with bacon and chestnuts.
Unsurprisingly, we didn't clear our plates but that was part of the cunning plan, because Christmas Leftover Soup is possibly the best meal of the year. As much as I love Christmas lunch and, even more so, Boxing Day's coldcuts, mash, mayo and pickle spectacular, Leftover Soup ROCKS.
The recipe? Really? Exactly what you'd expect. The stock went into a saucepan, along with the cold veg, bits of sausage, stuffing etc. As it starts to bubble, the whole lot, plus a handful of ham that we needed to finish off, got blended to within an inch of its life. It then went back in the pan where the remains of some double cream got added. It then appeared on the table, alongside a perfectly golden piece of Welsh Rarebit (to clear - what else?! - some leftover cheese).
If only one or two other lunches this year leaves me feeling that warm and fuzzy, 2010 will have been an absolute winner.