Saturday, June 10, 2023

Duck or Ham for Christmas dinner?

Bailey Woodean
Bailey Woodean
I have been a freelance writer for more than 4 years, a mom for more than 2 years, and a wife for just under a year. I am currently a student in a cooking and catering program with the intention of expanding my knowledge of the culinary business. I then plan to take this knowledge to properly write about and critique restaurants and food. Writing to you from Niagara Falls, NY, thanks for joining me on the ride!
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Every family has traditions. But, some families stray from the “typical” holiday feast. I have even heard that in some families, they have duck for Christmas dinner in place of ham. So, I decided to look into both options and then leave it to the readers for the final vote. Duck or Ham for Christmas dinner?

Christmas dinner


Glazed Holiday Ham (thanks to

  • 1  7-to-8-pound bone-in ham
  • Whole cloves
  • 1½ teaspoons dry mustard powder
  • 1  cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup dry sherry
  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Place the ham on a rack in a large roasting pan. Score ham diagonally left to right, then right to left, to create a diamond pattern across the meat. Stud each diamond with a whole clove.
  2. Add a cup or two of water to the bottom of the pan, then bake the ham, uncovered, 25 minutes to the pound if it is ready-to-cook, about half that if it is ready-to-eat.
  3. Combine mustard and brown sugar in a bowl, then add the sherry to make a thick paste. Spread the mixture over the ham approximately 20 minutes before it is ready to remove from the oven, then bake until crust has formed.
Christmas dinner?


Christmas roast duck (thanks to

  • 1.5kg/3lb 5oz potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 500ml/18fl oz chicken stock
  • 1 x 2kg/4lb 8oz whole duck, giblets removed
  • 1 clementine, cut in half
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 75g/2½oz butter
  • 1 head Savoy cabbage, leaves shredded
  • 50g/1¾oz dried cranberries
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the cranberry apple sauce
  • 2 Bramley apples, peeled, cores removed, roughly chopped
  • 200g/7oz fresh cranberries
  • 5 tbsp cider
  • 2-3 tbsp caster sugar, to taste
  1. Arrange the shelves of your oven so that there is space for the duck at the top and the potatoes on the shelf immediately underneath. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas 4.
  2. Layer the potatoes and onions in a large roasting dish, seasoning each layer with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Pour over the stock, flattening the top layer down.
  3. Place the potatoes onto the lower shelf in the oven.
  4. Pierce the duck skin all over with a fork and stuff the neck end of the cavity with the satsuma halves and cinnamon stick. Rub the five-spice powder all over the skin and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Place the duck directly onto the oven rack above the potatoes, so that the juices from the duck will drip onto the potatoes as they cook. If your dish with potatoes is on the small side, it may be useful to put a very large empty tray on the bottom of the oven to catch any drips of fat.
  6. Roast for 1½-2 hours, or until the duck is cooked through and the potatoes are tender and golden-brown.
  7. Meanwhile, for the spiced cranberry apple sauce, bring the apples, cranberries and cider to boil in a frying pan. Reduce the heat until simmering and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until cranberries have burst and the mixture has thickened. Season to taste with sugar, if too tart, then pour the sauce into a serving bowl and set aside.
  8. When the duck is cooked, remove it from the oven and set aside to rest for 10 minutes on a serving platter while you cook the cabbage.
  9. Pour enough water into the bottom of a large frying pan to reach 1cm/½in up the sides of the pan. Add half of the butter and bring to the boil. When the butter has melted, add the cabbage and boil until it has just wilted, stirring occasionally. Add dried cranberries and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until most of the water has evaporated, then season to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  10. To serve, spoon the wilted cabbage (drained, if necessary) onto a serving platter and lay the roast duck on top. Serve the potatoes and sauce alongside.
Christmas dinner?

My takeaway

From looking at the difficulty level, amount of ingredients, and total prep/cook time that each of these classic and delicious recipes take, I would think that most people would choose the ham recipe. It is simple, requires little effort and culinary knowledge while still providing your guests with an impressive and delectable Christmas meal! However, having never tried duck before, and likening a challenge in the kitchen, I think I would give the duck recipe a go! What about you? Ham or Duck?

Happy Holidays!

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