Yotam Ottolenghi’s Christmas dinner main course recipes (2024)

Roast poussins with blood orange and coriander seeds

I prefer serving several smaller birds at the Christmas table, rather than one enormous one that presides over its minion side dishes. There’s something more attractive and less daunting about a table where the dishes are on an equal footing. Blood oranges look fantastic here, if you can get them, but use regular oranges if that’s all you can find. Serves four.

4 poussins (about 500g each)
200ml blood orange juice (about as much as you’d get from 3-4 oranges), plus 1 tsp finely grated orange zest
2 large onions, peeled and cut into 2cm-wide wedges
2½ tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp red-wine vinegar
40g muscovado sugar, plus ¼ tsp extra for the oranges
2 large cinnamon sticks, broken in half
2 red chillies, cut in half lengthways but with stems intact and seeds in
3 tbsp olive oil
4 bay leaves
20g thyme sprigs
Salt and black pepper
2 blood oranges (or 1 large regular orange), topped, tailed and cut into 5mm rounds
1 tbsp ghee or clarified butter
3 tbsp coriander seeds

Put the poussins in a large bowl with all the other ingredients apart from the extra quarter-teaspoon of sugar, the orange slices, ghee and coriander seeds. Add a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, mix well and leave to marinate for at least two hours, and preferably overnight, stirring a few times to make sure that everything stays well coated.

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Take a large, high-sided baking tray (about 40cm long x 30cm wide x 5cm deep) and line with baking parchment. Put the poussins breast-side up on the paper, spacing them evenly apart. Pour the marinade around the poussins, then sprinkle with a third of a teaspoon of salt. Cover tightly with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and raise the heat to 220C/425F/gas mark 7.

Take off the foil (keep it for later), baste the birds and add the orange slices to the tray, spreading them around between the birds. Roast, uncovered, for another 35 minutes, until the poussins are cooked through and browned. Lift the birds and orange slices out of the tray and pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Return the poussins to the tray to rest, and cover with the foil to keep warm.

Put the marinade on a medium-high heat and cook for 10-15 minutes, to reduce until about 150ml of liquid is left in the pan. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Meanwhile, spread out the orange slices on a small parchment-lined oven tray, sprinkle with the reserved sugar and return to the oven for 10 minutes, until starting to caramelise, then remove and set aside.

Put the poussins on a large platter, pour over the thickened marinade and arrange the orange slices in between the birds.

Put a small frying pan on a medium-high heat and add the ghee. Once melted, add the coriander seeds and fry for a minute, until golden-brown and aromatic, then spoon over the poussins and serve at once.

Persian vine leaf and saffron rice tart

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Christmas dinner main course recipes (1)

If ever a dish could be a present – all wrapped up and filled with hidden jewels – this would be it. You can prepare the whole thing a day in advance, too: just take it up to the point where it’s ready to go in the oven, then cover and leave in the fridge overnight. With thanks to Ramael Scully, our head chef at Nopi and a man of many culinary gifts. Serves six.

40g raisins
40g barberries
40g almonds, skin on and lightly crushed with the flat of a large knife
40g shelled pistachios, lightly crushed with the flat of a large knife
250g vine leaves (or about 40 large leaves, either from a jar or fresh, if you can get them)
75ml olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
2 small parsnips, peeled and coarsely grated
1 tsp ground coriander
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp coriander seeds
½ tsp caster sugar
600ml vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper
¼ tsp saffron threads, soaked in 1 tbsp boiling water
200g basmati rice
240g Greek yoghurt

Put the raisins and barberries in a small bowl, pour over 150ml of hot water, set aside to soak for 10 minutes, then drain and set aside.

Heat the oven to 150C/300F/gas mark 2. Spread out the almonds and pistachios on a roasting tray and bake for 15 minutes, until crunchy, then remove and set aside.

Separate and rinse the vine leaves (take care, because they are very delicate and rip easily), then lay them in a medium saucepan. Add cold water to cover, bring up to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, cut off and discard the tough stalks and spread out the leaves on a clean tea towel to dry.

Put three tablespoons of oil in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid, and over a medium heat sweat the onion for five to six minutes, stirring from time to time, until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and ginger, cook for two minutes, stirring once or twice, then stir in the carrot and parsnip and cook for a minute longer.

Add all the ground spices, as well as the coriander seeds, sugar, 150ml of the stock, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Cook for two minutes, until the stock has reduced a little and coated the vegetables, then pour in the remaining stock, the saffron and its soaking water, and the rice.

Turn up the heat to high, stir well and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer very slowly, covered, for 10 minutes, until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite. Remove the pan from the heat, stir through the fruit and nuts, and set aside.

Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Brush a tablespoon of oil in a large, wide (29cm or so)ovenproof sauté pan or skillet. Lay half of the vine leaves, one at a time and shiny side down, around the inside edge of the pan, so that they are slightly overlapping and their tips hang over the edge of the pan. Continue working inwards until the entire base of the pan is covered with vine leaves, then tip in the rice mix.

Level out the rice as best you can, then draw the overhanging parts of the vine leaves over the rice. Now cover the rice with the other half of the vine leaves, laying them out shiny side up and in overlapping circles, until the rice is completely covered and all the leaves are used up. Press down firmly to flatten the leaves and compress the cake, and brush the top with the remaining oil.

Bake the tart for 30 minutes, until hot throughout and the vine leaves on top are dark and crisp. Remove from the oven and set it aside to rest and cool for 10 minutes.

Carefully invert the tart on to a plate, then place your serving plate over the parcel and invert again – the idea is to serve the tart crisp side up. Serve warm, with a bowl of yoghurt alongside.

Whole roast sea bass with soy and ginger

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Christmas dinner main course recipes (2)

Fish is a popular Christmas Day tradition in the southern hemisphere, which to my mind makes sense if you want to indulge in all the various vegetables and side dishes, and not exhaust a limited appetite with heavy meat. This particular alternative is as festive-looking as it gets. Thanks to Helen Goh. Serves four.

1 whole sea bass (about 1kg, and 45cm long), scaled, gutted and rinsed
Coarse sea salt
10 spring onions, trimmed
1 small medium white cabbage, cut in half, core cut out, and leaves separated one by one
3.5cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
1 chilli (red looks prettier), deseeded and julienned
100ml groundnut oil
10g coriander leaves

For the sauce
100ml chicken stock (or vegetable stock, if you prefer)
2 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine (failing that, use dry sherry instead)
3½ tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar

Put all the sauce ingredients in a small pan, put on a high heat and, once boiling, cook for a minute, swirling the pan slightly so the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat the oven to 200C/390F/gas mark 6. Cut five 0.5cm deep and 8cm long diagonal slits on both sides of the fish. Sprinkle a teaspoon of salt evenly over one side of the fish and rub in; repeat on the other side with another teaspoon of salt.

Cut eight of the spring onions into 5cm lengths and set aside in a small bowl; finely slice the remaining two onions and set those aside in a separate bowl.

Line a large, high-sided 30cm x 40cm baking tray with baking parchment and spread the cabbage and larger spring onion pieces on top. Lay the fish diagonally in the tray (this helps give it a bit of extra room), then sprinkle over the ginger. Pour the sauce over the fish and cover the tray tightly with foil.

Roast for 40 minutes, basting twice, until the fish is cooked through. To make sure it’s done, gently insert a knife into one of the slits and check that the flesh comes away from the bones and is no longer transparent. Sprinkle over the reserved finely sliced spring onion and the chilli, and set aside.

Pour the oil into a small pan and place on a high heat for about two minutes, until it starts to smoke. Very carefully pour this evenly over the fish, so that it starts to crisp the skin and vegetables.

You can serve the fish at the table in its baking tray, or arrange the cabbage leaves and chunks of spring onion on a larger platter – you’ll need to pull them out from under the fish – and carefully lift out the fish to sit on top. Pour over the cooking sauce and serve at once, with coriander scattered on top.

Beef stifado with fennel orzo

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Christmas dinner main course recipes (3)

SStifado is often aone-pot dish in which the starch element is cookedwith the meat. Here, however, I’ve made the orzo as an independent, flavour-filled dish tobeserved alongside (if you want to simplify things, just boil the orzoand serve it plain alongside thebeef and sauce); it also works very well asa veggie side dish. Serves six.

1.5kg beef brisket
Salt and black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finelychopped
1 tsp whole cardamom pods, lightly bashed with the flat of a knife
2 small cinnamon sticks

1 tbspfennel seeds,lightly crushed
2 tbsp tomato paste
400ml red wine
200ml ouzo (or raki)
100ml red-wine vinegar
2 tbsp caster sugar
20g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
1 large clove garlic, peeled andcrushed

For the fennel orzo
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and roughlychopped
1 medium fennel, trimmed and cut into 1cm dice
2 large sticks celery, cut into 1cm dice
1 tbspfennel seeds,lightly crushed
250g orzo
30g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
15g tarragon leaves, roughly chopped

Heat the oven to 160C/320F/gas mark 2½. Sprinkle the brisket on both sides with a teaspoon salt andset aside.

Put a large pan for which you have a lid on a medium-high heat, add atablespoon of oil and, once hot, add the brisket. Sear for 10 minutes, turning halfway through so it browns all over, then remove from the pan and set aside.

Add another tablespoon of oil to the pan, tip in the onion and fry on amedium-high heat for six to sevenminutes, stirring a few times, until soft and golden. Add the spices, stir for a minute, then add the tomato paste and cook for minute more. Pour in the wine and ouzo, and cook on a medium-high heat for five minutes. Return the meat to the panwith the vinegar, sugar and enough water just to cover (you’ll need about a litre and ahalf), bring to aboil, cover first with a circle of parchment paper and then the lid, and transfer to the oven. Cook for four hours, until the meat can be easily pulled apart but is still holding its shape. Carefully lift out the meat into alarge bowl and set aside.

Strain the liquid, discarding the whole spices, then measure out 300ml of the cooking liquor into ajug and tip the rest back into the pan. Put the pan on a high heat and boil for roughly 30 minutes, until you have 300ml of thick sauce left. Remove from the heat, return the brisket to the pot, cover and set aside somewhere warm.

To make the orzo, in a large sauté pan for which you have a lid, heat the olive oil on a medium-high flame. Once hot, add the onion, fennel, celery, fennel seeds, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper. Fry for 12 minutes, stirring every once in a while, until the vegetables are soft and caramelised. Stir in the orzo, the jug of reserved stock and 300ml water, lower the heat, cover and leave to simmer for 12 minutes, stirring every few minutes,until all the liquid has been absorbed and the orzo is cooked through but still has a little bite (some brands of orzo take longer to cook and need more liquid, so if yours is still uncooked after 12 minutes, you may need to add up to 150ml or so of water and cook for afurther 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and stir through the herbs.

Carve the brisket and divide between the plates, then pile up the orzo alongside. Pour the sauce on top, sprinkle withparsley, orange zest and garlic, and serve.

Seared venison with mustard andsour cherries

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Christmas dinner main course recipes (4)

You can prepare everything in advance for this sweet, sour and creamy celebration, up to the stage when the venison gets warmed up in the sauce. Once ready to serve, make sure you heat up the sauce very gently, so it doesn’t split, and add the venison for a final two minutes only. A mix of white basmati and black wild rice is a lovely accompaniment. Serves four.

100ml red-wine vinegar
100g dried sour (or morello) cherries
2 endives, quartered lengthways
Salt and black pepper
60ml olive oil
1 tbsp plain flour
500g venison steaks, cut into 1cm x5cm strips
200ml port
20g unsalted butter
3 medium shallots, peeled and finely chopped
1 large red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 thyme sprigs
150g creme fraiche
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp English mustard powder
15g parsley leaves, roughly chopped

Put the vinegar in a small saucepan on a high heat, bring to a boil and stir in the cherries. Remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes.

Cut out and discard the core of each endive quarter, taking care to leave the leaves attached to each other, then put in a bowl and sprinkle with an eighth of a teaspoon salt and a good grind of pepper.

Add a tablespoon of oil to a large sauté pan on a medium-high heat. Once hot, sear the endive quarters for four to five minutes, turning once, until golden-brown all over. Transfer the endives to a plate andset aside.

Put the flour in a medium bowl with half a teaspoon of salt and agood grind of black pepper. Add the venison slices, toss to coat and shake off any excess.

Return the sauté pan to amedium-high heat with atablespoon of oil. Once hot, add aquarter of the venison slices and sear for two to three minutes, turning once, so the meat browns allover, then transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the remaining venison, adding more oil if you need to. Once all the venison is browned, deglaze the hot pan with port, cook for a couple of minutes to reduce by half,then tip into the meat bowl.

Wipe clean the pan and add atablespoon of oil and the butter. Lower the heat to medium and add the shallots, chilli and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes, until the shallots have softened and are starting to caramelise, then add the cherries and vinegar, and cook for three to four minutes, until the sauce has thickened. Add the creme fraiche, both mustards, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Cook for two to three minutes, then return the meat andendive to the pan, stir in the parsley, heat through for two minutes and serve.

Yotam Ottolenghi is chef/patron of Ottolenghi and Nopi in London.

Follow Yotam on Twitter.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s Christmas dinner main course recipes (2024)
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