Merry Early Christmas Lunch



Saturday 02 December: a kick-off to the festive season with our family Christmas lunch.

There are shops which sell Christmas trees, baubles and trinkets all year round. As I prep the vegetables for today’s lunch I wonder what is the earliest date we can have a traditional Christmas lunch? I imagine that this would be around American Thanksgiving Day, held on the last Thursday of November. It would be strange to have it in June or August.

It was very sporting of the children to suggest a family get-together this early in December, since we will not be spending Christmas Day together. The menu consists of everyone’s favourite vegetable dishes, with a porchetta for the meat element.



Cooking instructions for the Porchetta:

Remove the porchetta from its packaging. Place on a large plate or a small roasting tin.

Ideally, salt the skin of the porchetta to remove moisture, then leave uncovered overnight in the fridge for the skin to dry out.

The next day, take the porchetta out of the fridge an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 240°C/ 220°C fan.

Rub a bit of fine sea salt onto the skin. Move the porchetta to a large roasting tray, and place on a bed of chopped carrots, onion, rosemary and thyme.

Roast for 20 minutes in the initial high heat. Turn the oven down to 180°C/160°C fan and continue roasting for a further 1½ to 2 hours. If you have an oven temperature probe (a bit of geekiness here, but the Gaggenau oven has an in-built meat temperature gauge), test for doneness between 65 – 70°C.

Otherwise, the tried and tested method of sticking in a long metal skewer and checking for clear meat juices works equally well. The latter is also a good skill to have.

Rest the meat for 15 – 30 minutes before slicing into pieces with a very sharp knife.



Although my table setting was very modest, it didn’t take long or lead to a nervous breakdown


There was a lot of food, a little wine and plenty of good conversation. As you can imagine the doctors in the party contributed some choice stories which made us laugh a lot. Here is what else we ate besides the porchetta, along with gravy and bread sauce. For dessert we had Konditor mince pies and home-made clotted cream ice cream. Recipes for some of these dishes here.


‘Pigs in Blankets’


Roast Potatoes


Honey and Mustard-roasted Carrots and Parsnips


Cauliflower with Cheese Sauce


Christmas Red Cabbage


Roasted (sliced) Brussels sprouts with garlic and parmesan, made by Brasenose Girl


Nottingham Cousin turned up with more cheese and Mrs King’s pork pies


The kitchen is still in a state of messiness as I write but the table linen has been washed and the floors are being cleaned by the robomops. The dishwasher needs unloading and the oven will be set to self-cleaning mode before I head to bed. At times like these I think it must be nice having domestic staff, but in lieu of that I have surrounded myself with really top-class appliances, so that helps a lot.

The children are already planning the next big family gathering, which I suggest should be for Mr Gochugaru’s birthday in January. Then there is Chinese New Year in February, followed by a family wedding in Singapore in March. Events like these keep me going. These are the twinkling lights in a world I find increasingly dim and scary, on account of my mother not being well.

The next post will come from Kuala Lumpur sometime next week. Merry planning as you consider your own Christmas family gathering.