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Making Christmas Perfect Ch.2

Making Christmas Perfect - First Courses!

To have - or to have not - a Christmas Dinner First Course is often hotly debated
With all that explosion of festive foods to come - why do you need to add any more courses?

Here at Godfreys we get literally thousands of customers placing their Christmas orders with us - and so we get to see how some people do prefer a Starter First Course - and some definitely don’t!
Some prefer the light and simple piscine option - others prefer something a bit more voluptuous

Adding to your Perfect Christmas
So to help make your Christmas Perfect - we thought the best idea was to feature some ideas for those of you with a more carnivorous persuasion - so you can either be inspired to use these recipes - or explore further - and then choose - to have or have not - but at least we have offered you the choice of adding to your Perfect Christmas.

Prepare well in advance
Many of our customers prepare their First Courses well in advance - so it frees them to concentrate on the final touches to the Christmas feast - or just gives them a little time to spend with their guests around the festive table - before the main event gets under way
By the time your guests assemble round the table for the Christmas dinner, the scene is set for the feast that is to come.

First impressions
Their initial impressions - apart from the tantalizing smells wafting in from the Kitchen  - will be visual
This is the moment when the guests will appreciate the care taken in setting the table - the sparkling glass, the polished cutlery, the flickering candles - and the festive flowers.
The First Course should be a continuation of this visual feast. Dishes that look attractive, festive and appetising - but which are not too filling.

Delia Smith is an ardent supporter
Delia Smith is an ardent supporter of the First Course saying:
“The starter is all-important, as it whets your guests' appetite and sets the scene for the culinary highlights to come!”  

The kids
Of course you are about to serve the festive banquet, but if there's one thing that'll put the pressure on, it's knowing your guests are hungry (and the kids will no doubt make sure you're aware).

Before the main event
Presenting some stunning starters or appetisers before the main event will keep appetites at bay and keep the family's mouths watering for the next round. 

French Schools Christmas Dinner
Just as a comparison - we found this recent charming Menu from a French Schools Christmas Dinner - not one from a posh Lycée - but a normal provincial French High School - just to show how different food cultures perceive what a Christmas Menu should feature - including First Courses- even in these modern times

A school canteen

This is after all a school canteen, but just the names of each dish alone show an enormous respect for, and interest in, food.  

Nothing is too sophisticated
With menus like this, you can see how culturally important food is to the French. 
It's wonderful that young children are expected and encouraged to appreciate all sorts of foods from a young age; nothing is too sophisticated for them.

The Christmas First Course Starter recipes
So on to the First Course Starter recipes that we hope will provide you with some thought provoking suggestions of just how to make your Christmas that little bit more special

• Chicken Liver Parfait with Sultanas & Raisins  - by Sara Buenfeld
James Martin's luxuriously rich dinner party starter can be made up to two days in advance for fuss-free entertaining - serve with toasted Brioche, Cornichons and Chutney
Preparation time 15 mins : Cooking Time 10 mins. Click here for 
Free Range Chicken Livers

Chicken Liver Pâté - by James Martin
Use whatever game you can get for this tasty recipe. It requires a little work, but the results are well worth the effort
Preparation time overnight  : Cooking time over 2 hours. Click here for
Free Range Chicken Livers

•   Game Terrine - by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
Use whatever Game you can get for this tasty recipe. It requires a little work, but the results are well worth the effort
Preparation time overnight  : Cooking time over 2 hours. Click here for 
Pheasant, Wild Mallard, Wood Pigeon, Wild Rabbit, Venison

 Country Terrine with Black Pepper & Thyme  - by Sara Buenfeld 
A rustic terrine with French toasts makes an excellent starter for a special meal and it costs very little to make
Preparation time 20mins ; Cooking time 1hr 30mins. Click here for  Pork Belly,
Smoked Streaky Bacon

•    Prosciutto-wrapped Chicken & Leek Terrine - by Gordon Ramsay 
Gordon's make-ahead terrine is the perfect starter when you're entertaining a crowd.
Preparation time 1hr 30mins plus overnight setting : Cooking time 30mins. Click here for 
Diced Chicken, Chicken Stock

•   Duck & Pork Terrine with Cranberries & Pistachios - by Mary Cadogan
Set aside a couple of hours and enjoy every minute of making this impressive terrine
Preparation time 45mins ; Cooking time 2hrs 15mins - mature for at least 2 days before eating.
 Click here for Duck Breast, Unsmoked Streaky Bacon, Pork Shoulder,  Free Range Chicken Livers

•   Gordon's Rustic Pâté - by Gordon Ramsay
An impressive starter from Gordon Ramsay, that's surprisingly simple to put together. Make it a few days ahead to allow the flavours to develop
Preparation time 50 mins - plus Marinating time : Cooking time 1 hour.
 Click here for Pork Tenderloin, Unsmoked Streaky Bacon, Directors Sausagemeat

•  Ham Hock & Mustard Terrine

Cured slow-cooked pork is a great foundation for a coarse pâté style starter and can be made in advance. Preparation time 30 mins plus chilling : Cooking time 3 Hours 30 mins. Click here for Ham Hocks

•  Sesame beef wraps - by Emma Lewis
The perfect Asian-inspired pre-dinner nibble, perfect for a Christmas get-together with friends
Preparation time 10 mins : Cooking time 20 mins. Click here for 
Chuck Steak

•  Smoked Bacon and Lentil Soup - by Delia Smith
This is a very substantial Soup, best made with whole lentils which are a greeny brown colour and don't need any soaking.
Preparation time 15 mins : Cooking time 1 Hour 15 mins. Click here for 
Smoked Streaky Bacon, Chicken Stock

•  Verrines Filled With Duck Confit, Ceps & Crushed Peas
Glass verrines are very fashionable in France, but you can also use individual soufflé dishes or cocottes.
You can make your own Duck Confit - or just as easily use tinned Confit of Duck
The Duck and Peas can be prepared ahead, making this a wonderfully presented dish with a real visual - and taste - wow factor. 

 Click here for Duck Legs, Duck Fat
Pâtés, Terrines, Parfaits, Confits and Rillettes - whats the difference?
We are often asked that question in the Shop - so with a proliferation of such First Course dishes this seems a good place to clarify the differences.

Pâtés and Terrines are both a form of charcuterie, a way to cook and preserve meat prior to the development of the refrigerator in France. Chefs continue to use the method because of the rich flavours produced by the preservation process.

Pâté - literally a paste, often of Chicken Liver used as a spread for crackers or bread. There are both crust/pastry and pastry free versions. Pâté is a dish of finely or coarsely minced fish or meat, seasoned, and baked with or without a crust(pastry), in a mould.

Pâtés and Terrines are similar, but Pâté is smooth and Terrines tend to be chunky.

Parfait - Chicken Liver Pâté  becomes a Chicken Liver "parfait" (French for perfect) when the cooked Liver mixture is pushed through a sieve to remove any sinewy bits, resulting in a silkier, smoother and luscious Liver Parfait.

Confit is a generic term for various kinds of food that have been immersed in a substance for both flavour and preservation.

Sealed and stored in a cool place, Confit can last for several months, and can be reheated to extend its useful life. Confit is one of the oldest ways to preserve food, and is a speciality of southwestern France.

Rillettes : It is a preparation of meat similar to Pâté.

Originally made with Pork, the meat is cubed or chopped, salted heavily and cooked slowly in fat until it is tender enough to be easily shredded, and then cooled with enough of the fat to form a paste.

They are normally used as spread on bread or toast and served cold. Rillettes are also made with other meats, Goose, Duck, Chicken, Game birds, Rabbit and sometimes with fish such as Anchovies, Tuna or Salmon.

So whether you choose one of the above recipes - or are just inspired to explore further recipes we hope we have given you much food for thought - and for whether Christmas First course Starters are for you - and your family and friends - to just add that extra special something - that will make your Christmas Perfect

We hope you enjoyed this Chapter on Christmas Dinner First Course recipes and ideas for Christmas - and hope you look forward to the next Chapter when we show more Recipes and Ideas for your Perfect Christmas- next up are Christmas Mains Side dishes.

Merry Christmas!


​​​​​​​PS Please do have a look at Chapter One and Two of our Christmas Carol now Live on www.godfreys.co which explains in detail what ensures your Christmas Turkey is going to be fabulous

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