Festival of flavour

Alternative feasts

Tradition may call for turkey on Christmas Day but we predict the trend for alternative meats is set to move mainstream in 2020. Last year, demand for venison rocketed on waitrose.com, with Waitrose Entertaining orders doubling compared to the previous year, and sales of venison as a whole were up more than 60%. Our new No.1 British Venison Wellington is a real showstopper, with tart flavours of juniper and blackberry an ideal match for the rich meat. Other mains we think will fly off the shelves include Slow-Cooked British Beef Shin, Duck with Pear, Chestnut & Rum and a 10-Bone Rack of British Pork produced from free-range pigs that spend their lives in woodland, foraging the flora to supplement their diet.

Heston’s new hits

The magician of clever cooking

Heston’s seasonal creations are always a talking point and this Christmas he’s back with more scene-stealing surprises. Smoked salmon is cured with his Citrus Sherbet Gin and finished with gold lustre for a touch of indulgence. The Jewelled Stuffing Ballotine, with juicy sultanas, dried cranberries, apple, apricots and candied orange, is pretty enough to take centre stage on the Christmas Day table, and The Night Before Christmas Mince Pies will speed Santa and Rudolph on their way with golden carrot and caraway pastry filled with carrot and vine-fruit mincemeat, dusted with a sprinkling of smoked sugar.

Other sweet treats include a Christmas pudding made with sultanas soaked in ruby port and aged balsamic vinegar. A classic British pud and an Italian favourite have been sweetly re-imagined as Sherry Trifle Panettone, while Heston’s Chocolate Candles hide a velvety chocolate centre with a citrussy kick and a splash of brandy.

Flavour trend

Key ingredient: truffle

No.1 Duck Parfait with Mushroom & Truffle Centre

A silky-smooth duck parfait with a hidden centre of oven roasted mushroom and truffles, finished with a sweet Madeira wine glaze.

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Martyn Lee

Partner & Executive Chef

With our favourite restaurants closed for much of 2020, more and more of us have been looking to recreate gourmet experiences at home. Truffle is an ingredient that’s often featured on menus and it’s something our customers have been seeking out, with searches on waitrose.com up more than 100%.

‘It’s also a perfect flavour for the festive season, so this Christmas look out for Châteaubriand with Porcini & Truffle Butter, No.1 Duck Parfait with Mushroom & Truffle Centre and a Dorset Cheddar matured for 12 months and blended with truffle.’

Best bakes

The Rise And Rise Of Panettone 

The Italian seasonal staple has become a firm favourite in the UK thanks to its light, airy texture and family-friendly flavours. In 2019, Waitrose saw sales of the continental sweet loaf increase by 11%, and this year we expect it to prove just as popular. Our panettones are lovingly made using a traditional sourdough recipe from a third-generation Italian family bakery. Each of these special bakes takes 70 hours to create, with 60 hours of that time taken up by the rising process. New flavours for Christmas 2020 include Apricot & Peach Bellini Panettone, a twist on the classic with a little extra sparkle, and a panettone with candied pear, chestnut and rum syrup. Either would make a brilliant gift for a foodie.

Sustainability

A greener Christmas

Brown paper returned to favour last year with sales of plain wrap at Waitrose soaring by 600% – reflecting the trend for environmentally friendly Christmas items.

For 2020, all our own-label cards, gift wrap and tags will be fully recyclable and free of plastic glitter. Our gift wrap is produced in the UK, in the town of Ystrad Mynach in Wales. It’s made from sustainable FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified paper and printed using water-based inks.

And this year, for the first time, all crackers sold at Waitrose and John Lewis will be filled with toys made from recyclable materials (such as metal and paper games instead of plastic) and decorated with techniques like embossing, rather than plastic glitter.