Amy is one of the esteemed BLUESTOCKING BELLES_ who have put their heads together and come up with an anthology of Christmas themed Regency romances titled MISTLETOE, MARRIAGE & MAYHEM (at 99c it's a bargain!).
Amy Rose Bennett has a passion for creating emotion-packed—and sometimes a little racy—stories set in the Georgian and Regency periods. Of course, her strong-willed heroines and rakish heroes always find their happily ever after.
Connect with her on her website and blog and Facebook
Over to Amy to talk about a Regency Christmas AND give us a recipe for Regency Roast Duck (I MUST try it!)
Regency Christmas Traditions
Christmas was celebrated a little differently in the Georgian and Regency periods when compared to modern day celebrations. For instance, the traditions of having a Christmas tree and putting out stockings did not begin until the Victorian era. But like today, Christmas was very much celebrated with family and close friends, and there would be a special Christmas dinner after a trip to church in the morning.
I love Christmas time and cooking so I thought I would share a little bit about Regency Christmas fare. The heroine from my novella, Miss Tessa Penrose is married shortly before Christmas, and she observes that her wedding breakfast looks a lot like a traditional Christmas dinner. So what would the Regency Christmas table actually look like?
There would be a roast of some kind—usually goose, turkey, duck, or pheasant, or there might be roast beef or even a boar’s head—accompanied by stuffing from the fowl and roast vegetables. Other seasonal vegetables such as carrots, Brussels sprouts, purple or white broccoli, asparagus or cabbage might be served. To drink there might be mulled wine or a wassail-bowl—recipes varied depending according to the region or the family’s ‘secret’ recipe, but from what I can gather, wassail seemed quite similar to punch or mulled wine. It contained a mixture of cider, beer, sherry or brandy, sugar and spices and was served warm, in a large bowl.
At the end of the meal there would be pudding—popular desserts included Christmas plum pudding (usually a mixture of suet, brown sugar, peel, raisins and currants, spices, flour, bread crumbs, eggs, milk and brandy, cooked by boiling in a cloth), mince pies, trifle or syllabub (a dessert of whipped cream flavored with wine or sherry). Other treats offered might include gingerbread, butter shortbread, march pane (marzipan) and sugar plums (a small, round or oval sweetmeat made of boiled sugar and variously colored or flavored).
I’m a huge fan or roast duck and turkey so I’ve adapted a recipe of mine to reflect a Regency style roast duck. I must try it this Christmas!
Regency Roast Duck
Cooks in 3 hours (includes preparation and resting time)
- 2kg whole duck
- 1 kg potatoes good for roasting (e.g. Desiree)
- 1 cup of good quality duck or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- ¼ cup brandy
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup toasted walnuts
- 40g unsalted butter
- 100 grams of lardons (bacon pieces)
- 1 green apple, grated (leave skin on)
- 1 tablespoon sage leaves, chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon brandy plus more if needed
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- ½ large brown onion, finely chopped
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 1 & ½ cups stale breadcrumbs
To serve: steamed green beans for 4-6
- Preheat the oven to 200ºC. Take the duck out of the fridge and bring to room temperature an hour before cooking.
- For the stuffing, roast the walnuts on a baking tray in the oven for about 5 minutes or until they just begin to color. Remove from the oven and when cool enough, chop the nuts roughly and set aside.
- Heat the 40 grams of butter in a medium non stick frying pan, then sauté the lardons, grated apple, diced onion and celery, and sage over medium heat for about 5-8 minutes until soft or just beginning to color. When almost cooked, deglaze the pan with the brandy. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 180ºC.
- While the walnut, lardon, apple and sage mixture is still hot, add the breadcrumbs, and combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then moisten with a little extra brandy if needed to just bring together.
- Stuff the duck with this mixture and secure the cavity; tie the duck legs together with cooking twine, or plug the cavity with a whole, small (or half) an apple to stop the stuffing escaping. Use a metal skewer through the back thigh area of the duck and the apple to keep the stuffing from falling out.
- Prick the duck skin lightly, season lightly with salt then place on a rack in a large roasting pan in the pre-heated oven for an hour.
- While the duck is cooking, place the potatoes in a saucepan. Cover with cold, salted water, bring to a simmer and parboil for 5 to 10 minutes, drain and then return to the saucepan and toss to roughen up the surfaces a little.
- After the duck has roasted for an hour, remove the tray, transfer the duck to a plate, then carefully pour the hot fat and juices from the bottom of the roasting tray into a jug. Skim off the fat to use for roasting the potatoes (or put the jug in the freezer until the fat sets and then you can remove it very easily). Set aside the remaining juices to use later for the gravy.
- Return the duck to the roasting tray and continue to roast in the oven. After 15 minutes, place the potatoes with the reserved duck fat in another tray (add an extra tablespoon of olive oil or melted butter if needed to make sure the potatoes are all coated in fat), season with salt then put in the oven on another shelf to roast. After 30 minutes, turn the potatoes so they crisp evenly.
- After the duck has roasted for another hour (two hours roasting time in total), remove it to a carving tray and stand for 20-30 minutes while you finish roasting the potatoes (they take about an hour), steaming the green beans, and making the gravy.
- To make the gravy, drain off the extra fat from the duck roasting tray, leaving about a tablespoon in the bottom as well as any meaty bits clinging to the pan. Put the tray on the stove top over medium-low heat and add the tablespoon of flour; stir with a wooden spoon and cook for a few minutes to make a light nut brown paste. Top up the reserved juices from the jug that you collected earlier, with an extra cup of chicken stock and the ¼ cup of brandy. Pour into the roasting tray, blending in the paste, then increase the heat to medium-hot, stirring constantly until the gravy boils and thickens. Turn the heat to low. Skim any extra fat off the sauce if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Carve the duck and serve with the drained roast potatoes, beans and gravy. Enjoy!
Sources & References:
The London Art of Cookery and Domestic Housekeeper's Complete Assistant, John Farley, 1811.
Christmas Traditions in Regency England by Regan Walker http://thewritewaycafe.blogspot.ae/2014/12/christmas-traditions-in-regency-england.html#.Vj9-Klpm3dk
Mistletoe, Marriage and Mayhem....
MISTLETOE, MARRIAGE, & MAYHEM is a collection of novellas by the Bluestocking Belles. Heat rating: From G to PG-13
In this collection of novellas, the Bluestocking Belles bring you seven runaway Regency brides resisting and romancing their holiday heroes under the mistletoe. Whether scampering away or dashing toward their destinies, avoiding a rogue or chasing after a scoundrel, these ladies and their gentlemen leave miles of mayhem behind them on the slippery road to a happy-ever-after. ***All proceeds benefit the Malala Fund.***
For details of all the stories in Mistletoe, Marriage and Mayhem... Click the READ MORE link
Book buy links:
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo