Lashings of turkey, trifle and, of course, pigs in blankets from Manchester's favourite chefs
It's around about this time of the year that I always think about the classic scene in A Christmas Carol when the new-and-improved Scrooge repents his miserly ways and decides to crash the Cratchit's Christmas celebration. To make it slightly less weird that the boss is turning up unannounced (awkward!), Scrooge softens the blow by sending the most monstrous mega-turkey that Victorian genetic engineering can produce.
I feel for Mrs Cratchit - it's all very well receiving a generous meat mountain in the post but now she has to prepare and cook the gigantic fowl without the benefit of a fan-assisted oven or even a Nigella cookbook to guide her through. Maybe if Scrooge was feeling really generous he should have thought about getting the feast ready prepared so Mrs C could put her careworn feet up and hang out with Tiny Tim. Think on Mr Dickens.
Father Christmas himself would be weeping with joy at this spread of festive delights
Back in the present day, we do benefit from the kind of domestic upgrades that Mrs Cratchit couldn't even dream of, but that doesn't mean we all want to slog it out in the kitchen on Christmas morning. Yes there is a certain puritanical joy in getting up at 6am and peeling spuds but not everyone can be a festive martyr. For those of you who are more in the pyjamas-until-noon crowd, the following list of dine-at-home experiences will definitely be of interest.
Read on for a list of Christmas meal packages, prepped by the experts and delivered to your door.
What: Adam Reid at Home
How much: £150 for 2
Delivery: 30 December, nationwide
Ok, so not strictly a Christmas box, but we couldn't not mention this feast for people who like to stay at home on NYE complaining that the pubs are too crowded, taxis are too expensive and it's amateur night anyway. While this year's menu hasn't been finalised yet, the sample menu of Cornish brill with leeks, baked Tunworth cheese, treacle beef and chocolate gooey cake has us reaching for the slippers and cancelling that Uber too. Adam Reid made a massive success of his dine-at-home boxes last year and though he is back behind the stoves at The French, there is still plenty of delight in this box. Book well in advance.
How much: £130 for 6
Delivery: From 1pm on 25 December (cook at home arrives 24 December). Delivery slots are limited.
Is this the (religious mixed metaphors alert) Christmas holy grail? Freshly cooked Christmas dinner delivered to your door on the day is indeed a dream. Palestinian restaurant Baity are serving prime slow-cooked Jericho lamb shoulder, rubbed with spices and served with pomegranate gravy. The trimmings are traditional but with Middle Eastern flavours, such as sprouts tossed in sumac and roasties done in za'atar. Finish with ma'moul - shortbread biscuits stuffed with a festive cinnamon spiced date filling. A vegan version of the menu features an impressive ouzi centrepiece. Also available as a cook-at-home box or delivered as take out on the day.
How much: £36.95 per person
Delivery: available between 22-24 December (Christmas Eve recommended)
If you want the full Victorian Christmas experience, trim the tree with sugar plums and scarily flammable candles, then crank open your clockwork laptop to order from this Manchester institution. All the options do sound like they’ve been beamed directly from Mrs Beaton’s cookery book, which is very on-brand for the Chop Houses. Choose from game terrine or brown onion soup for starters, turkey with all the trimmings followed by a traditional pud or sherry-laden trifle.
What: Eagle and Child at Home
How much: £50 per person
Delivery: delivery or collection on Christmas Eve, check your postcode
If you live in the vicinity of the Eagle And Child in Rammy then a brisk walk (ideally crunching through the snow, hey we can dream) to collect your Christmas dins the night before could rival Midnight Mass for a truly festive tradition. Why not stop for a mulled wine too (no drivers obvs)? The gastro-pub's menu for the big day includes turkey, naturally, but the baked baby halibut thermidor or sirloin of Bowland intrigue too. Traditionalists will be pleased with the boozy Christmas pudding, whereas if you crave a bit of novelty you can let the pastry chef surprise you with a tasting selection. Vegan options are available too.
How much: from £115 for 2
Delivery: Free delivery on 23 December, check your postcode
Elite Bistros (the group that includes Kala and Sticky Walnut) bring you The Turkey One, The Veggie One and the Actually, I Don’t Really Like Turkey One (Beef Edition). Ok those aren’t the exact names but there seems to be something here for everyone. One smart idea that caught Confidentials' eye is being able to purchase just the side dishes and starters. So if you've already ordered something special from your favourite butcher but are starting to get the fear about carving Xs in sprouts all day, order the Trimmings box (£115) and engage in the Christmas day equivalent of buying posh mince pies and smashing them up a bit so you can pretend you made them yourself. Only you and your bank account will ever know.
How much: from £125 (adding alcohol is an extra £20)
Delivery: 21, 22 or 30 December, nationwide
There is a good range of cook-at-home boxes from Hawksmoor that would fit the Christmas day bill very nicely - most are variations on the theme of smoked salmon, fillet steak with the most glorious chips, garlic mushrooms, creamed spinach, sticky toffee pudding, a couple of sour cherry negronis and a bottle of Rioja. Sounds like the date night from heaven any time of the year. What makes this one festive is that for this limited-edition box, Hawksmoor has partnered with theatre-makers and digital stage specialists Creation Theatre to bring a unique production of A Christmas Carol to your home (can it beat the Muppets though? Let's just say they scratch different itches). A cook-along video means your steak will be perfect too. A Merry Christmas to us all, God bless us every one.
What: Simon Rogan at Home
How much: £95 per person
Delivery: £10 nationwide
Let's just get straight to the menu here: truffled celeriac soup with confit duck, pine-cured smoked salmon with whipped cod’s roe, turkey from Goosnargh with all the trimmings, Christmas Pudding with Brandy Anglaise, mince pies and chocolates. Father Christmas himself would be weeping with joy at this particular spread of festive delights, all created by jolly elf Simon Rogan. There are options to add on truffles and a wine flight for full decadence overload.
What: Christmas by Nico
How much: £100 per person
Delivery: 22 or 23 December, nationwide
With smoked salmon, bacon-wrapped turkey, spiced red cabbage, the inevitable pigs and sticky toffee pudding, the Six by Nico Christmas menu reads like a greatest hits of Christmas dine-at-home boxes. They kindly offer to take the "hassle out of hosting, so you can enjoy the stuff that makes Christmas special, like bickering over a game of charades, telling groan-worthy cracker jokes and feasting with family and friends". Or slope off upstairs to let the rest of the fam battle it out in a Squid Game re-enactment over who has to eat the strawberry creams. Depends on how you do Christmas I suppose.
How much: from £140
Delivery: 22 December
The Bull and Bear supremo has teamed up with Copas to bring you an award-winning turkey with add-ons. If you are a confident hand with the sprouts but dread roasting up a dry bird then this could be the package for you. The big bird is the main deal but you also get gravy, sauces, pigs in blankets and stuffing. Last order date 12 December.
How much: From £99 for 6-8
Delivery: 22 or 23 December
Choose from traditional turkey (£99) or spice things up with Indian Leg of Lamb (£110). The lamb option is inspired by the lamb raan dish served at special feasts on the sub-continent, while the turkey comes ready to roast in a special marinade. Both come served with all the trimmings including a delicious Indian stuffing, new potatoes, parsnips, sprouts and, our fave new word combo, spicy gravy. This box doesn't include starters or puddings so is perfect for those who know themselves well enough to know that they will only be deep diving straight in to a chocolate orange or two anyway. Everything from Zouk is prepared to halal standards.
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