Best Christmas Recipes from Across Europe

Posted in Recipe on 18 December 2014

Throughout the USA the dish of choice at Christmas time is roast turkey with all the trimmings. However, if you are not that into turkey or just looking to try something different over the festive period, why not take inspiration from some of the Christmas dishes traditionally served across Europe? Here we take a look at six of the best.

Italy – Although the north and south celebrate different traditions, a beautiful ham is likely to grace most tables throughout the country. In this recipe the ham is served in a pastry case with glace fruits known as Mostarda di Frutta.

 Prosciutto in Crosta

Prep time: 1 hour Cooking Time: 3 ¾ hours Serves 8-10


  • 6lb ham
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 large chopped carrot
  • 1 stick of chopped celery
  • 1 clove
  • 1 bottle of dry Spumanti
  • 1 pint of stock
  • 1lb pre-prepared puff pastry
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 1 ½ oz. butter
  • 1 ½ oz. plain flour
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 3 level teaspoons of French mustard
  • 14oz tin of Mostarda di Frutta


  1. Soak the ham in cold water for 2 hours then cut away the skin.
  2. Place into a large pan all the chopped vegetables and then add the ham, clove, stock and wine.
  3. With it covered over, cook the ham over a medium heat for 3 hours before leaving to cool in the liquid. When cooled, remove fat from ham.
  4. Roll out the puff pastry until ¼ inch thick, place the ham in the centre and wrap the pastry over it ensuring edges are firmly sealed. Brush the egg across the top to help glaze.
  5. Place the ham on a damp baking tray and cook in an oven pre-heated to 220C for 35 minutes.
  6. Make a white sauce from the butter, flour and 1 pint of the strained cooking liquid. Stir in the mustard and season.
  7. Decorate with ham with the Mostarda di Frutti and then serve. Sauce to be served separately.


Germany – The day of celebration in Germany is Christmas Eve. Goose, pork and game are all popular but the main dish served in most households is Karpfen in Bier which is simply carp cooked in beer.

Karpfen in Bier (Carp in beer)

Prep Time: 35 minutes Cooking Time: 1 ¾ hours Serves 6


  • 4lb carp
  • 3 tbsps white wine vinegar
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 1 chopped leek
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 clove
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 6 oz. gingerbread
  • 1 ½ pints of brown ale
  • Juice and rind of lemon


  1. Clean the carp and leave it to soak in cold water and the white wine vinegar for 1 hour.
  2. In a pan large enough for the carp place the chopped vegetables, bay leaf, clove and a dash of salt and black pepper. Add 1 pint of water. With a lid on the pan, simmer this stock for 1 hour.
  3. Break the gingerbread into small pieces and soak in ½ pint of brown ale.
  4. Place the carp into the stock with the lemon juice and remaining ale. Cook on a low heat for around 20 minutes or until carp is tender.
  5. Lift the fish from the liquid and place somewhere to keep warm. Strain the liquid and then add the gingerbread. Boil this mixture rapidly until it has reduced by half.
  6. Strain the sauce over the carp and serve with lemon rind as a garnish.


Romania – The Christmas tradition in Romania centring on folk singing and dancing as well as large, indulgent feasts dates back many years and is still taken seriously today. Suckling pig is a favourite often spit-roasted over an open fire. This recipe is delicious but you will need a big oven!

Suckling Pig

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 4-4 ½ hours Serves 6-8


  • 10lb suckling pig
  • 10 fluid oz. of rum
  • 10 fluid oz. olive oil
  • 2 level tbsps of salt


  1. Either truss the pig with legs stretched out or fold them underneath the belly. Place a wooden plug into the mouth and protect tail and ears with foil.
  2. Mix together the rum and olive oil and brush all over the pig. Rub the salt into the skin.
  3. Place on a rack in a large roasting tin and cook on the lower shelf of an oven pre-heated to 165C. Cook for 25 minutes for each pound. Every 15 minutes baste with more rum and oil mixture.
  4. When cooked, remove the foil and replace wooden plug with a shiny, red apple.
  5. To carve, cut off the head and forelegs and then the rear and legs. Slit along and through the backbone, remove rib cage and carve meat and crackling into thin slices. Shoulder and leg meat can be carved in thicker slices.


Spain – This dish of lamb with tomatoes and pimento comes from Navarre in Spain. Lamb is the most popular meat to use in the mountain districts.

Cordero la Chillindron (Lamb’s Chillindron)

Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 50 minutes Serves 6


  • 2lb boned leg or shoulder of lamb
  • 1 red pimento
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 tbsps olive oil
  • 2 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • diced Parma ham
  • tinned tomatoes


  1. Place the pimento under a hot grill. Turn in frequently until charred all over. Then rub the skin off under cold water.
  2. Remove the stalk end of the charred pimento and the seeds and then cut the flesh into narrow strips.
  3. Cut the lamb into 2 inch cubes removing any excess fat. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
  4. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan and fry the garlic until golden.
  5. Add the onion, lamb and ham and cook over a medium heat for around 10 minute or until lamb is browned. Stir in the chopped pimento and tomatoes, with juice, into the pan.
  6. Simmer with the pan covered on a low heat for around 40 minutes or until tender. It can be served with rice, crusty French bread or a green salad.


France – In France, whatever you decide to have for Christmas dinner it simply has to include black pudding. This recipe, originating from the Normandy region features traditional French ingredients such as goose, black pudding and apples.

Oie a la Normande (Chicken Normandy)

Prep time: 25 minutes Cooking time: 2 ¾ hours Serves 6-8


  • 10lb goose
  • 1lb black pudding
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 2 large dessert apples, peeled and grated
  • 2 ½ fluid oz. port
  • Salt and black pepper


  1. Skin the black pudding and pound it smooth with the goose liver and garlic. Blend in the apples and bind the stuffing with wine. Stuff the goose with this mixture.
  2. Prick the goose skin all over and rub it thoroughly with salt and pepper.
  3. Place the goose in a roasting tin and cover with foil. Roast on the lowest shelf of an oven pre-heated to 205C. Cook for 15 minutes for every pound plus an extra 15 minutes.
  4. After an hour of cooking, drain the fat from the pan and pour 4 fluid oz. of cold water over the goose. Remove foil 30 minutes before cooking is completed and baste the goose every 10 minutes with juices from the pan.
  5. Goose can then be served on a thick bed on unsweetened apple puree.


Scandinavia – As in Germany, the main Christmas meal is served on Christmas Eve across Scandinavia. A popular choice is a large loin of pork covered in crispy crackling.

Roast Loin of Pork

Prep time: 15 minutes Cooking time: 3 ¼ hours Serves 8


  • 6lb loin of pork
  • 2oz of dripping or butter
  • Coarse salt
  • 6 cloves
  • 12 small bay leaves


  1. Score the loin deeply in ½ inch strips. For really crispy crackling place the joint, skin side down, in a roasting pan and pour boiling water over it to a depth of 1 inch.
  2. Place the pan in the centre of an oven pre-heated to 230C. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove the pan, pour off the liquid and put to one side for basting later.
  3. Grease the pan with dripping or butter and rub salt into the skin of the loin. Insert the cloves and bay leaves into the score marks.
  4. Roast the pork, skin side up, at 180C for 30 minutes for every pound. Baste every 30 minutes.
  5. It is now ready to serve. In Scandinavia it is traditionally served with sugar-browned potatoes and red cabbage.


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