Christmas sauces

Port and cranberry sauce HERO

No matter how spectacular your centerpiece or how divinely crispy your roast potatoes, the Christmas dinner wouldn't be half as delicious without getting a little saucy. From the thick, meaty taste of gravy to the sweet tanginess of cranberry sauce, this is a meal that requires a medley of delicious flavours to be truly satisfying.

To get an insight into how others make their sauces, we spoke to Rachel Brady, creator of the popular family food blog Well Worn Whisk, along with a few of our Twitter followers.

Berry best

The sweetness of cranberry sauce can transform the taste of your turkey, filling your mouth with its bright, juicy flavour. It also pairs perfectly with Brie and goat’s cheese for a starter or vegetarian alternative.

For a little more luxury, try adding 3-4 tablespoons of port to your cranberry sauce.

Minting it 

Mint sauce traditionally goes with roast lamb, but who are we to say it can’t join your other Christmas condiments and even add a little liveliness to your dinner. Tesco Food follower @Miaholt mentioned that when it comes to creating her mint sauce, “we usually add a little vinegar and hot water to make it go further”.

Our recommendation? Try adding honey and vinegar to create a palate-cleansing sauce.  

Bready, steady, go  

There’s nothing quite like the comforting creaminess of bread sauce. It adds an instant homeliness to your turkey dinner and tastes wonderful with roast chicken any time of year. Rachel’s advice for ensuring it lives up to all expectations (and avoids that dreaded gloopy texture) is to, “make it in advance, freeze it, then take it out on Christmas Eve to defrost. Reheat the bread sauce just before serving, adding a splash of milk to get it back to the right consistency.”

She also mentioned that her own recipe was inspired by one of Delia Smith’s, “infused with a clove-studded onion, bay leaf and peppercorns”.

The rest is gravy  

What would Christmas dinner be without gravy? Of all the Christmas sauces it has to be the most essential, though how people like their gravy can be a very individual thing.  

@Angela_Hui shared her thoughts with us on Twitter, “it just isn’t Christmas without a thick gravy sauce with added juices from the turkey and veg”. Our follower @Robindthomas agreed that gravy is best when you “use the juice from the meat as a base” while @rosswclarke added, “If we’re talking gravy, I make it the way my nan taught me – meat juices, flour, potato water and gravy browning”.  

Tesco Food follower @ElaBluEyes suggested adding “a spoonful of caramelised red onion chutney” to give it extra flavour, while for vegetarians Rachel recommended “roasting a pan of vegetables separately. When they are nice and caramelized, use these as the base of the gravy, adding red wine then reducing, adding vegetable stock and finally some veggie gravy granules to thicken it”.  

Say no to lumps  

Nothing says “Christmas dinner drama” like lumpy gravy. So how do you avoid it? Rachel’s advice is to “take care when adding the thickening agent – whisk it in slowly. We always sieve our gravy when it’s done, mashing all the goodness out of the vegetables that have been bubbling along with it. If there are any lumps this will get rid of them.”

Whatever your personal preference may be, Christmas sauces have the ability to add unique character to your festive feast. Although seemingly a small part of the cooking process, sauces can make a big impact on how the dinner comes together. What are your favourite Christmas sauces? And do you have any tips to add? Let us know in the comments.

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