At Christmas, turkey is the bird of choice for many festive feasts. But more diverse options are rising in popularity, with people treating themselves to their favourite cuts of meat from top-quality producers or making vegetables the heroes of their celebratory tables.
We asked some of the UK’s top independent retailers who deliver food straight from the farm to your door for their suggestions of the best turkey alternatives this Christmas.
Naturally, all our recommendations come from high-welfare farms with free-range animals, from producers who farm in tune with nature. A lot of the produce is organic too, including the vegetables.
While order dates take you right up to Christmas, stock is relatively low and demand is high for these choice cuts, so we recommend you order as early as possible to get what you truly want on the Christmas table as well as under the tree.
Beef Christmas Feast Box: £190, Abel & Cole
Feeds: 6-8 people
This box proves that with a little extra effort and know-how, vegetables – normally considered a side offering – can have as much prominence as the meat on the Christmas table.
As for the staples? The beef was tender and the red-wine gravy rich with depth of flavour, and once you roast potatoes this way you’ll never cook them any other way again.
Two of us spent four happy hours recreating every recipe recommended in this box, but you could easily prep over a couple of days or give one dish to each person and have them all wrapped up in no time.
Each recipe also includes ideas for how to use the vegetable peels and pips for other snacks, ensuring a lot of creativity and a zero-waste Christmas feast.
We made especially sure not to waste a drop of the magnum of prosecco also included in this box.
Last delivery date: Up to 24 December, depending on your area
The Michelin star beef wellington kit: £65, Farmison
Feeds: 6 people
This box contains everything you need to make the ultimate centrepiece for your Christmas table: a pink fillet of beef swaddled in a golden buttery yet flakey pastry. Now that’s the kind of wrapping we can get on board with.
Admittedly, a lot of the hard work is already done for you as the beef arrives butchered to perfection along with a ready-made mushroom duxelle, serrano ham, pre-rolled puff pastry, plus a sachet of red wine sauce. You’re more putting this together than cooking from scratch, but it’s Christmas time and you probably have a million other things going on so don’t let that dent the pride you will inevitably feel when you prize your puffed-up pastry from the clutches of the oven.
It probably won’t turn out like the photo but it will look and taste spectacular. Serve with veg galore and dauphinoise potatoes for the ultimate decadent dinner.
Last delivery date: 24 December 2019
Smoked Leg of Lamb Banquet Box: £135, Eversfield Organic
Feeds: 6 – 8 people
A smoked leg of lamb is a traditional choice for an Icelandic Christmas dinner table, but makes for a fabulous centrepiece and talking point for a festive meal in the UK. The Banquet Box provides all the ingredients and recipe cards you need to put together a simple but show-stopping feast that includes dauphinoise potatoes, pancetta-wrapped butternut squash and redcurrant and rosemary gravy. They’ve even paired it with an organic bottle of red wine.
Vegan Christmas Dinner Box: £47.95, Riverford
Feeds: 2-3 people
I’m never sure how I feel about a nut-roast, having been forced to order it one too many times for a pub lunch when the provenance of meat is questionable. But, if I was going to trust anyone with a nut roast it was going to be Riverford. The no-fuss oven-ready dish, didn’t disappoint with a satisfying depth of flavour and good crunch.
For a great value Christmas feast, you need to look no further than this vegan Christmas box from Riverford, which also includes seasonal veg, mince pies, clementines and a Christmas pud.
Delivery dates: 20 – 24th December (depending on your postcode)
Goose crown festive dinner for six: £130, Farmison
Feeds: 6 people
Goose offers the promise of a much for traditional British Christmas dinner, being the Victorian bird of choice before A Christmas Carol put turkey at the centre of the festive feast. Another reason for goose being usurped is that the birds are typically harder to rear than turkey, so tends to be free-range, naturally slower grown – and expensive. Throw in the fact that it’s a bit harder to cook, and you’ve got a recipe for a dish that unsurprisingly fell out of favour.
But goose’s interesting flavour means it’s back on the table – not to mention the bird has that highly revered fat content that’s perfect for roasting those spuds.
This package makes cooking goose for novices super simple. Just be aware the stuffed ballotine legs require three-and-half hours slow-cooking while the crown only takes just over an hour, with an hour’s resting time. Serve with bread sauce and gravy and boozy apple sauce – all provided – and you could easily have Christmas Day and Boxing day sewn up here with very little effort.
Last delivery date:
Simplest Turkey: From £38, Pipers Farm
Feeds: 4 people
Finally, if you feel no Christmas dinner is complete without turkey and you and yours like breast best (oi, stop it), then simplest turkey is a great alternative to a crown for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s turkey meat rolled around a tasty stuffing. What’s not to love?
Secondly, it’s not one but two rolls. One of breast meat and the other of leg, so you get the diversity of the bird without any of the fuss of having to deal with the bones. Also, it practically guarantees a succulent centrepiece with just an hour of cooking and offers all guests a good amount of meat-to-stuffing ratio with every carve.
Last, but not least, it comes with a couple of sausages wrapped in bacon. But we highly recommend you order more. Can you ever have enough of these?
Last delivery date: 23 December 2019
Abel & Cole organic vegetarian Christmas feast box: £100, Abel & Cole
This may seem like a lot for what is essentially one (meat-free) meal, but it’s quality that counts here. For anyone going veggie for the first time this year, you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything, and instead could have found a new favourite. The galette is packed full with butternut squash, kale, chestnuts and mushrooms, wrapped in rustic pastry that you make yourself, too. It’s not a quick dish to prepare. It’s a labour of love, but it’s more than worth it and you’ll return to the recipe again and again.
It also comes with all the trimmings, from potatoes to gravy – and a pot of cranberry sauce – so there’s no last minute dash to the shop when you’ve run or of carrots, and no waste either. Our favourite extra was the buttered carrots and parsnips followed by the sprouts with lemon, sage and garlic. Oh, and a magnum of Giol Prosecco to go round too.
The box says it will serve 6-8, and we think it’s easily perfect for six generous portions, and depending on sizes, some left for seconds too. We’re pretty sure this can convert even the most dedicated of carnivores.
Last delivery date: 23 December
Field & Flower glorious game Christmas box: £45, Field & Flower
This game box is the cheapest box the brand does out of it’s nine options, and we think it’s mighty (or is that meaty?) good value.
With seven different cuts of game meat, from wild venison and juniper sausages and wild venison steaks to a whole partridge and a whole pheasant, this will see any game fan through multiple weeks of winter and not get bored. It even makes a really good present for a keen cook wanting to learn how to be more adventurous with these cuts, flavours and meats. Just make sure they’ll have room in their freezer.
We think the French-trimmed rack of venison loin with pancetta is a perfect piece for your Christmas table on the big day, or even Boxing Day. Although it doesn’t come with any of the extras, you can buy other boxes to be delivered at the same time to compliment it, like the trimmings box.
Last delivery dates: 20-24 December