The definitive caravan Christmas dinner

We break down the dinner debate

By William Coleman

The modern caravan kitchenette is well equipped for cooking large meals and it doesn’t get much bigger than Christmas dinner. But you are limited on cold storage and space to keep all your cookware, so what is the ideal variation on the caravan festive feast?

Do you have to have turkey? Are pigs in blankets a sin? It seems that every family has a different adaptation of the Christmas dinner. Let’s look at the best version that can be cooked with the tools and space inside a caravan.

We wanted to make sure that this menu was a collaboration of options from the entire CaravanTimes team, as we all had very different opinions on this topic. To keep things fair and democratic we all voted on each section of the menu, and yes things got a tad heated – it’s not Christmas without some bickering.

The trimmings

In the CaravanTimes kitchen, we use the term trimmings for every item apart from the meat and the vegetables. We do limit the number of dishes here as we do not want to overload the fridge and have too much food to prep and cook. Oh, and we need to keep an eye on the waistline too.

  • Sage and onion stuffing: We suggest this is cooked outside of the bird, should you have turkey or chicken, with some grated parmesan in the mix. The cheese gives the dish a nice tang. Cooking it on its own means you can season it to taste and add a few additional herbs and spices.
  • Pigs in blankets: M&S do the pretty good one if you do not want to make them from scratch. We would suggest finding a local butcher as they make the Elddis of pigs in blankets.
  • Bread sauce: Again from the packet as prep space can be limited.

You may have noticed that the Yorkshire pudding did not make the list. What are your feelings on this? Does it have a place on the plate?

The vegetables

This is where a lot of the internal office debate came into play. It seems each member of the team has a very different opinion on what veg a Christmas dinner should contain. Who knew greens and peas would cause such a kerfuffle?

Oven cooked veggies

  • Roasted parsnips and carrots with brown sugar, cinnamon and garlic cloves: These can be oven cooked from raw but it’s best to steam them for around 15 minutes before baking. You can steam them on the hob, which we’d advise as you won’t have much space for an electric steamer.
  • Goose fat roasted potatoes: A little trick to make your roasties come out amazingly is to season them very well before they go in the oven. Toss them well once boiled, as this will make them fluffy, and add salt, pepper and Jamaican all-purpose seasoning. You will not regret this addition of the seasoning.

Hob cooked veg

  • Steamed sprouts with smoked pancetta and walnuts: Parboil the sprouts before adding them to the bacon and nuts.
  • Pan-fried red cabbage with cinnamon and nutmeg: Slice the cabbage very thinly and fry in a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil. You are looking at a cooking time of around 20 minutes. Once the cabbage turns soft, take it off the heat. Cover the cabbage in foil and let it steam itself to remove any crunch.

The meat

This is where some of you may get upset with what the team chose. The turkey was voted out very early on in this discussion. This year it was roast beef and a ham joint that scored the winning vote.

A roasted lamb shoulder almost took the top spot, but it was decided that lamb is just not festive enough for the big day.

You may be wondering the reasons for putting beef at the top of the list? It was the beef juices if you can believe it. The gravy you can make from the juices that run out of a good quality beef joint is second to none.

Let the fats and oils ooze out and add them to a warm pan. Once the meat juices are on the boil add your gravy granules and let it bubble away for around ten minutes. Do not forget to stir every 30 seconds or so.

The ham joint works well for touring as it is pre-cooked and can sit on the fridge for quite a while. All you need to do is slice bits off as and when you need it. Ham for breakfast, lunch and dinner is what Christmas is all about.