A festive twist: how to upgrade your Christmas dinner

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We spoke to culinary experts to find out how to make our Christmas dinners bang on trend this year

Christmas is seen as a time for tradition, and many may be resistant to the concept of diversifying the menu or adding new flavours. But introducing new flavours to classic components can modernise without compromising on nostalgia.

This year has seen a resurgence of rum across menu and cocktail lists alike. Desserts seem to be doused in the potent liquor this season, including Tom Kerridge’s banana souffle in Plantation Original Dark Rum, served at the Hand & Flowers in Marlow.

Meanwhile, Asda’s senior director of food trends and innovation, Jonathan Moore, points to the combination of brown butter and rum as being a key hit this Christmas, saying: “Brown butter is cropping up all over. It’s whipped and served with sourdough at Maya’s Bakehouse, it’s being served over potatoes at Apricity Mayfair. Traditional rum spices pair perfectly with the nutty flavour profile of brown butter.”

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Banana Soufflé, Hand & Flowers

To bring this pairing to your table, swap your regular sage and onion stuffing for Asda’s brown butter and spiced dark rum option.

If you’re up to the challenge, co-author of the Ginger Pig Christmas Cookbook, Rebecca Seal suggests whisking up your own brown butter to glaze over your vegetables and potatoes: “It’s handy to use a pale-coloured pan when browning butter, so that you can clearly see the bubbles and can push them apart with a wooden spoon. When the butter is golden brown, it’s ready.”

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An Italian twist

If you’re a turkey devotee, look away now. This festive season is all about porchetta.

You’ll find the Italian favourite added to an array of Christmas menus, while many supermarkets have ready-to-cook options on display. Marks & Spencer’s British outdoor-bred slow-cooked porchetta comes with pork and apple jus, while Asda’s porchetta is hand-rolled with Italian style fennel, garlic, olive oil and lemon.

Putting a Christmas twist on Italian classics may seem like a complicated feat, but Rebecca describes the task as being simpler than cooking a turkey. “The method of cooking porchetta is more forgiving than when you cook a bird, and you’ve got more opportunity to work with a range of flavours,” she says. “You can be inventive with leftovers, too, as porchetta makes an excellent sandwich and works very well in ragu.”

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Porchetta, ASDA

 Smoke & spice

If you’re unwilling to completely swap out your traditional dishes for new ones, worry not. You can add a twist to your familiar offering with some loud flavours.

Rebecca Seal and Tim Wilson recommend adding some fresh mango and chilli to your prawn cocktail recipe for a modern twist. If you make your own panettone, try studding it with rum-flavoured fruit to bring your Christmas celebrations to a merry end.

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