While Christmas is well and truly over for another year, I’m still dreaming of my first full-on vegetarian yule-tide dinner. The husband may be a fish bothering vegetarian, I am not, and having banned guests from our dinner table this year, in favour of a quiet Christmas at home with just the three of us, it seemed pointless splashing out on a turkey when the boy would no doubt refuse to eat it, and I would become sick of the sight of it within a day or two. So, the decision was made for the husband and I to go veggie and to indulge the boy in a few slice of chicken.
I was, however, was left with the dilemma of what to cook. My festive fave for the husband has always been this mushroom and chestnut pud recipe courtesey of Waitrose , but when I suggested having it for Christmas dinner, the husband made a face that I correctly interpreted to mean ‘not that again’. So I went on the search for an alternative.
With Anna Jones being my most recent cooking crush I considered her best ever nut roast with pistachios and cranberries but not being a fan of ‘jam’ with savoury dishes, I vetoed it in favour of Mildred’s magnificent truffled mushroom and chestnut wellington. And I wasn’t disappointed. For anyone not in the know, Mildred’s is a must-go-to restaurant for any vegetarian or vegan visiting the capital. The food is delicious, and I’ve never been disappointed.
So, back to the wellington. It’s super easy to make, especially as I had no intention of making my own puff pastry and plucked a ready rolled pack from the chilled aisle in my local supermarket. The filling was cheap and easy to put together (I omitted the truffle oil and used a touch of garlic oil instead, following the advice of someone who has posted a comment on the recipe page). And, because we wanted to make Christmas as simple as possible, I made the wellington a few days in advance and popped it in the freezer, hoping that it would cook okay from frozen on the big day – and it did.
As for accompaniments, we consumed our body weight in roasted potatoes, carrots and parsnips, steamed savoy cabbage, leeks in cheese sauce and sage and onion stuffing – which I’m ashamed to admit came from a packet (sorry). While Mildred’s suggest serving the wellington with a port reduction, I opted for for Anna Jones’ sticky veg and cider gravy, and I’m rather glad I did. It made for a light, fruity gravy that didn’t make the meal too rich.
I’d definitely cook and eat this again, it’s easy to make, looks wonderful and tastes amazing and there was enough left over for a repeat performance a day later.
The verdict from the husband: ‘I’d have that again.’ Which is good as I’m cooking it for the mother on Sunday (if I can get my hands on gluten-free puff pastry).
The verdict from the cook: ‘That should be the vegetarian option on any menu for Sunday lunch.’
The verdict from the boy: He didn’t touch his dinner as Santa brought him chicken pox for Christmas and he lost his appetite. Poor little man. It probably would have been ‘yuck’ anyway!
Sticky veg and cider gravy from Anna Jones’ a modern way to eat.
Makes about 400ml (a good jugful)
- leeks 2, roughly chopped
- celery 2 sticks, roughly chopped
- carrots 4, roughly chopped
- garlic 2 whole cloves, skins left on
- fresh rosemary 2 sprigs
- fresh thyme 2 sprigs
- bay leaves 2
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- olive oil
- plain flour 2 tbsp
- dry cider 500ml
- vegetable stock 300ml
- Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.
- Lay the veg in a large roasting tray and scatter over the herbs. Season, then drizzle over a little olive oil. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes, until the veg are sweet, soft and golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little.
- Using a potato masher, mash the veg in the roasting tray, then place the tray on the hob on a medium heat. Add the flour and stir well for a couple of minutes, until it has cooked through.
- Pour in the cider and stock, bring to a simmer, then cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to get all the sticky bits from the bottom of the tray.
- After 10 minutes, remove from the heat and sieve the gravy into a jug, pressing down on all the vegetables and herbs with a spoon to get all the flavour out. Keep in the fridge until needed. Reheat with a little extra hot water or veg stock.