December 16, 2019 6:55 am Leave your thoughts
….and maybe you are too? Maybe you’re lactose-intolerant, cutting back on calories, don’t like milk, are on a Paleo-style diet – or are avoiding animal products altogether? If it’s the latter, then you might find our blog Happy Vegan Christmas! more useful, as it’s specifically aimed at our vegan customers. This blog, meanwhile, aims to cater for those who have just one element they’re excluding from their diets: dairy. (Incidentally, if you’re gluten-free, then our other Christmas blog – Have yourself a gluten-free Christmas – is the place to go.)
Dairy doesn’t have a starring role in the Christmas feast, but it nevertheless creeps into all manner of traditional goodies, sweet and savoury. If you’re cooking for anyone who’s avoiding dairy (milk, cream, cheese, butter, yoghurt, sour cream, buttermilk and all variations thereon), then you’ll need to have your wits about you, your eyes peeled and your spies right inside your mince pies.
Let’s take a look at the places where you might find dairy at Christmas – and explore some great alternatives.
The main course
With the traditional roast dinner, there are a few things you’ll need to be aware of, mostly revolving around fat. It’s usual to ‘baste’ and lubricate the meat with some kind of fat – often the fat that runs out of the meat itself (for example, goose fat). This is fine to use: it’s not a dairy product. However, you’ll need to ensure that the meat hasn’t been basted, dotted, smeared or stuffed with butter before it went in the oven. The same goes for the roast potatoes and any other roast veg – and, indeed, for boiled and steamed vegetables too. It’s quite common, in the hurly-burly of the Christmas kitchen, for someone to chuck a stick of butter onto the boiled green beans at the very end, for instance, to bring out the flavour.
Luckily, there are plenty of mainstream alternatives to butter for roasting and flavour-enhancing. Plant-based oils such as sunflower oil and extra-virgin olive oil make equally wonderful ‘basters’ and ‘drizzlers’, producing crunchy, crispy, flavoursome results. Coconut oil (see our range of unrefined, organic, extra-virgin coconut oils here) is even better, in many people’s opinion – and if you want to avoid even a hint of coconut flavour, use the odourless ‘cuisine’ range.
With such a wealth of stuffing recipes available, you’ll need to choose one that definitely, definitively includes no dairy products. The two ready-made varieties that we stock are dairy-free – and if you’re making your own, then this recipe for a standard sage and onion version, from Delia Smith, fits the bill: https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/sunday-roast/traditional-pork-sage-and-onion-stuffing.
There really shouldn’t be dairy in your gravy unless you’re making or using a heavy-duty luxury version. Some people do add a splash of milk or cream, however, at the end, or start the whole process off with a knob of butter and flour. To make great gravy, all you really need is the juices of the meat, thickened, and flavoured with herbs, wine, stock and various condiments. But you’ll need to be sure that the juices of the meat haven’t mingled with any fat used at an initial stage for basting.
If Christmas dinner won’t be Christmas dinner without a jug of bread sauce on the table, then you’ll need to buy – or make – a version that doesn’t include dairy cream. This recipe here uses the creamy Oatly alternative: https://veganfamily.co.uk/bread-sauce/.
Yorkshire puddings make their way onto a number of Christmas dinner tables too, and for these, you’ll also need a good non-dairy milk. Soya milk is the most highly recommended for this fairly basic recipe. If you’re happy with eggs, then use any standard Yorkshire pudding recipe and simply substitute a plant-based milk for the dairy milk element.
What’s for pud?
For Christmas cakes, Christmas puddings, mince pies and Christmas baking in particular, you’ll need to think about replacing two elements: fat and milk/cream. All-butter mince pies, shortbread and cookies are handed out with abandon over the festive period, and cakes and puddings are mixed freely with milk and butter, then doused in creamy sauces.
For dairy-free milks and creams, which one you choose will depend partly on personal taste and partly on what exactly you want that milk or cream to do in your cooking. Our blog here Non-dairy milks – which one should I use? gives some helpful advice.
Here’s an up-to-date list of all the dairy-free milks we stock at Naturally Good Food:
In our dairy-free cream section, we have:
- Schlagfix vegan squirty cream (a miraculous invention)
- Oatly oat cream
- Coconut cream
- Almond cream
- Soya cream
Many dairy-free Christmas recipes – like two out of the three below – manage to create Christmas goodies without using butter or milk at all, meaning that you don’t need to worry about replacements. For these, combinations of other ingredients bring moistness and richness. Even so, you’ll probably need the cream substitutes for the top! Why not give one of these recipes a try this year?
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This post was written by Yzanne