Downton Abbey Christmas Cooking

So, I found out that there was a Downton Abbey Christmas Cookbook. I was thinking about asking for it for a Christmas present, but then decided I would rather cook these recipes before the holiday, not after. So I ordered it as a gift for myself, or so I thought. But the original Downton Abbey Cookbook arrived, which I already have.  So I had to return that and then order the Christmas book.  So I was delayed in receiving it, but I finally did get it on December 9.  

Then I started getting excited by the recipes, picking ones that seemed particularly interesting.  I started with the Roast Venison, as we have venison we need to consume.  I initially did not realize it had to marinate for 24 hours so it was not well planned with my schedule.  But here it is about to marinade with our fresh thyme, rosemary and parsley.

I was able to use our bacon as well for the roasting.  Bacon had replaced larding which was using a needle to weave long narrow strip of fat through the roast.  This transition actually occurred during the years portrayed in the series.  The bacon is much easier.

I made Artichokes Gratin to accompany the roast.  I love artichokes, Tom not so much.  Because of this I only made two of them.

Here is the meal with the gravy.  The venison was only OK (and I have subsequently gotten tired of it having in my lunchtime salad every day), but the artichokes were good.  And the meal overall was elegant.

The next meal I made was the Jugged Hare with Prunes and Raisins. I had to find some interesting ingredients for these recipes.  Tom actually found the rabbit at Burlington Haggen just prior to me having to drive to a Snohomish butcher to pick some up.  I live you-tubed the Swedish Singers Nordic Christmas while sipping on punsch, making this meal.

I was able to find red currant jelly in Everett for this recipe.  There were two chopped onions as well as 2/3 cups of prunes and 1/3 cup of raisins ( I chose golden) .  This photo is before our beef stock was added, and it was put in the oven.

I had decided to accompany this with their Roasted Parsnip recipe as I still have small parsnips from our garden.  I was able to use our fresh thyme and rosemary as well.  Here they are.
I also made Pan Potatoes.  They were really pretty going into the oven.

Unfortunately they got a little overcooked in the time the recipe called for, and I was distracted by the other dishes’ preparations.  Tom still liked them though.

Here is my meal using my grandparents’ dishes.

The rabbit was really amazing.  It was one of the best dishes of my life!  The combinations of flavors were absolutely perfect.    The parsnips were really good, but fresher ones would have been better.

Next I made Game Bird Pie.  For this it was tricky finding pheasants.  I tried every local butcher without any luck.  I ended up ordering them online from  Later Tom found some at our local Haggen grocery store.  Who knew?

I also had to come up with  7 1/4-inch round springform pan quickly.  In this case, Target came through.  I made the hot water crust using our lard.  I then layered our bacon, then a layer of ground pheasant and Cornish game bird meat, our hard boiled eggs, our parsley, a layer of pheasant and Cornish game bird breasts, and spices (pepper, mace and allspice).

Then there was more ground meat, more breasts, and then I poured some port wine in and then folded the bacon ends over.  The top crust and chimney were placed with some tree decorations.  It was really pretty coming out of the oven.  It did take longer than described to cook so it was a late dinner.

Here it is cut. Because it was so late, I did not have time to let it cool to remove the pan.

It was OK but not amazing.  The spices are nice.  But overall a little bland and quite dense and filling.  I was going to make the Yorkshire Christmas Pie as well but decided that it was too similar to this pie and not worth the effort.  I will make it next Christmas.

Yesterday I made a leg of lamb.  This is not in the cookbook.  They do have a Stuffed Leg of Mutton recipe, but I decided it would take too much time.  But to accompany the lamb I decided to make Macaroni and Cheese Tartlets.  This recipe reminded me of Thomas Jefferson’s macaroni recipes.  It called for laying parchment paper and the raw rice on top.  This is a first for me.

Here are the tartlets coing out of the oven.

And my dinner.  The tartlets are good.  Tom thought they could use more cheese.

So today I was planning on making Pheasant Soup.  But I decided to make Smoking Bishop to sip on with this.  I was intrigued because it is part of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol so I wanted to try it.  It involves roasting a lemon peel with a torch.  I got Tom’s help with this.

Here it is warming.

And here is my cup with some of its ingredients.

Then my attention went to the soup.  Most of the pheasant (minus the breasts), onion, celery, leek, garlic, pepper, salt, parsley, thyme and bay leaf went into the stock. Carrot also did, but we somehow ran out.  Tom rescued me by picking some up at the store so it went in later.  This simmered for 3 hours.

I made ground pheasant breast meatballs that were simmered in our chicken stock.  The soup was then assembled with celery cubes and fresh parsley.

It is elegant to look at and surprisingly tasty.  I have enjoyed my historic Christmas cooking.  Tom is getting a little tired of “weird food”.  So we will be returning to our usual eating, but I enjoyed my vintage British vacation.  I imagine that perhaps some of my ancestors ate these foods at this time of year.

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9 Responses to Downton Abbey Christmas Cooking

  1. Denise says:

    you are a very adventurous cook! had to laugh at the comment about Tom getting tired of “weird food”. Happy holidays to you both! 🙂

  2. You’ve been very busy Donna! What a food adventure indeed. I have the original Downton Abbey cookbook and love it, didn’t know there was a Christmas version.
    PS I would have LOVED those crispy potato bits!

  3. I don’t mind adventurous (vegetarian) eating, but am not the daring chef that you are! Well done!

  4. Jeanne says:

    I’m impressed!! You have way more of an adventuring type of cooking than I do! My tastes lean more toward simple foods, but it wouldn’t hurt if I branched out, I think!

    • Donna says:

      Thanks Jeanne! I have always enjoyed cooking but now I love delving into the history of it. I love imagining people from the past cooking these foods and enjoying the same tastes. It is an adventure for me. You could branch out too on your own adventure.

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