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Food & Drink The Ultimate Christmas Condiments Guide

You’ve laid your table, each seat adorned with a sophisticated looking cracker, beautifully folded napkin and a sparkling set of cutlery. But in reality, no Christmas table is complete without a selection of classic Christmas condiments. So, what should sit proudly alongside your salt and pepper shakers?

Here we will make our recommendations on what to offer, covering all those essentials that you could either have a go at making yourself, or pick up from your local convenience store. And we won’t just stop at Christmas dinner condiments, we’ll also cover what you need to stock up on ahead of your Christmas evening supper of leftovers or your Boxing Day binge.

What to Serve with Christmas Dinner

Let’s start with the main meal. We’ve stuck with tradition and created a collection of Christmas dinner condiments that will complement your turkey and trimmings perfectly.

Gorgeous Christmas Dinner Gravy

This is no doubt one you’ve already thought of, but as the biggest roast dinner of the year, it deserves a gravy that’s worthy! But how do we define a good gravy? It needs to be rich and packed full of flavour that complements but doesn’t overshadow your Christmas dinner. Thick enough to leave a coating on your meat or veg but still velvety smooth and certainly not gloopy! It’s also important that it tastes of real, and not artificial, ingredients.

Can all of that be achieved from a powdered mix? We think so. Many brands, including big names like Bisto and Knorr, have become famous for taking the perceived hassle of Christmas gravy making out of our hands, investing heavily in developing a mix that is packed full of traditional festive flavour. The Christmas or turkey range of instant gravies would always be our seasonal choice, as they have a less-overpowering meat flavour than your regular brown gravies which are flavoured heavily with beef stock. This can really overpower the lighter flavour of poultry. Also, the consistency is a little thinner, which pairs well with the lighter texture of the meat and the softness of your sprouts.

The downside of using a mix is that you have far less control over the salt content or the thickness – certainly in the case of packet mixes where it’s the full mixture combined with boiling water. If you choose a tub of granules, you do have a little bit more flexibility and can tune the thickness to your preference with an extra teaspoon here and there. Plus, they last a little longer, with tubs of up to 50 servings available.

If you would rather take the plaudits of making your own, here’s a simple Christmas dinner gravy recipe you can try. If the thought of handling the giblets put you off, this is the recipe for you!

You will need the juices from your roasted turkey, a tbsp of plain flour, 200ml of white wine and 600ml of chicken stock. Remove your bird from the roasting tray and spoon off any excess fat floating on the surface of the discarded juices. Place your tray over medium heat and sprinkle in the flour and stir with a wooden spoon for a couple of minutes until thickened. Now stir in your wine and stock and bring to the boil – keep it moving with your spoon to avoid anything sticking to the bottom. Simmer for 15 minutes then sieve before serving in your best gravy boat.

Classic Cranberry Sauce for Turkey

Cranberry sauce should definitely be on your table. Cranberries are tangy, sharp and sour with a hint of sweetness that really elevates the buttery and sweet nutty Turkey flavour. You can learn more about the relationship between meat and sweet flavours in our guide to the best wines for Christmas dinner.

Cranberry sauce is a versatile condiment that adds colour, texture and flavour to every element of your Christmas food table, including sandwiches packed with leftovers and your evening cheeseboard. Many of the jars that are available to buy include additional festive flavours, such as port or orange zest. Our view, though, is that the only decision to be made when choosing a cranberry sauce for your turkey is texture. Would you rather have a smooth, jelly-like condiment? Or do you favour a sauce that is thinner in consistency but packed full of chunky cranberry pieces?

For us, one of the best cranberry sauces to buy is Ocean Spray’s whole cranberry sauce. This offers a great balance between chunky and smooth – they have left plenty of whole cranberries in there but kept the sauce thick. They are renowned for their cranberry products and this one is a real winner.

Fancy making your own? You’ll need 100g of brown sugar, 100ml of smooth orange juice and a 250g pack of frozen cranberries. Tip your sugar and orange juice into a pan and bring to the boil before stirring in your cranberries and simmer until tender – this should take around five minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool and thicken.

Brilliantly Easy Bread Sauce

Not always a universal favourite as the texture and general idea of a sauce made from bread can be a little disconcerting for some diners, but a well-seasoned bread sauce is brilliant for tying together the elements of your Christmas table. It’s also a nod to British tradition that dates back as far as medieval times, when bread was used as a thickening agent for sauces – mainly because there was often stale or leftover bread available.

It’s made from white bread crumbs, milk (or cream) and onions, with a festive hint of nutmeg. With savoury notes, it’s a firm favourite to serve with poultry as it won’t mask the subtle flavours, but provides a contrast to your cranberries all while complementing your gravy.

It’s simple to make, but if you prefer to use a bread sauce mix there are plenty out there with big names like Colman’s leading the way. Just add water and you have a tasty sauce ready to serve. But even if you’ve left it to the last minute, here is an easy bread sauce recipe that you can make at home.

Take a large white onion and peel it. Add the whole onion to a saucepan with 6 black peppercorns and a pint of full fat milk. Bring to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool for 15 minutes. Then remove your onion and peppercorns and stir in 110g of bread crumbs (ideally made from stale white bread). Return to the heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until all the breadcrumbs have been absorbed and the sauce is at your desired thickness. Stir in 40g of butter and a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste.

Liven up the Leftovers with Boxing Day Pickles and More

So now we’ve covered the Christmas Dinner condiment must-haves, let’s look at some of the options for accompanying your leftovers or Boxing Day spread.

Piccalilli – it's always worth having a jar in your cupboard over the festive period. This tangy, chunky and sweet condiment is packed full of crunchy pickled vegetables and is a welcome addition to cold meats, cheese, left over pigs in blankets and more.

Mayonnaise – a versatile sauce year-round, spread it on a cold turkey sandwich or mix in with some left over roast potatoes for a rustic salad to serve up on Boxing Day.

Grainy mustard – we suggest a grainy mustard for the added kick but also that extra deluxe element that Christmas celebrations deserve. Prefer to go smooth? We won’t hold it against you!

Boxing Day pickle – bring out the Branston and a jar of pickled onions. Welcome alongside cold meats and of course , cheese. These are a festive must.

Need to Stock Up on Christmas Condiments? Head to SPAR!

Get everything you need to spruce up your spread at your local convenience store. And if our guide has given you last minute condiment inspiration, there’s no need to get in a festive flap. We’re even open on Christmas Day! And sign up to our E-Newsletter to receive more Christmas dinner ideas and seasonal updates.

Merry Christmas, from SPAR.


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