A beer matched Christmas Day Dinner

Leigh from The Good Stuff got in touch a few weeks ago to say he thought we should pool our efforts and post today on the subject of beer with Christmas dinner. I totally agree that beer is being largely ignored by the mainstream food press and that something should be done about it.

So here we are, my slightly alternative Christmas Day menu and the beers you could drink with it.

Starter: Pan fried scallops with lemon herb butter and rocket

This is a dead easy starter to make as scallops only need one to two minutes cooking either side in a hot pan with a little olive oil. When they're done simply place on a warmed plate to rest before adding a good knob of butter to the pan along with a big squeeze of lemon juice and some chopped parsley. Stir until the butter has melted and browned ever so slightly.

To serve simply place the scallops on a handful of rocket then drizzle with the lemon herb butter.

The beer match: A big posh champagne style bottle of Saison Dupont will impress your guests, especially if you serve it in champagne flutes. The slight acidity cuts through the rich butter and scallops, and the peppery, herbaceous hop flavours in the beer will match amazingly with the herbs and rocket in the dish.

Alternative beer matches: If you can't get a hold of the DuPont then any other saison or even Duvel will work too.

Main course: Pork cheek, cranberry and Stilton pie with fondant potato, buttered kale, and clementine and honey parsnips and carrots

Ok ok it's not turkey, but trust me, these individual pies are so delicious and filled with festive cheer that I promise you nobody will mind in the slightest. This will make enough for two large individual pies but you can simply double or triple the ingredients to serve more people.

In a large oven proof casserole dish brown the cheeks (allow 3 trimmed cheeks per person, each one cut in half) in a little butter and olive oil then remove to a bowl. Add one large finely chopped onion, one large finely chopped carrot and a crushed clove of garlic. Soften for a few minutes then sprinkle with a heaped tablespoon of flour and stir until mixed with the softened veg. Add the cheeks back in along with a tablespoon of cranberry jelly, a big sprig of fresh thyme and enough stock to cover (I actually used one beef and one chicken stock cube). Season, cover, then transfer to the oven and braise for 4 hours at 160*C.

Once cooked simply remove the cheeks from the gravy and put into pie dishes lined with ready rolled all butter shortcuts pastry. Pass the sauce through a sieve, pushing the veg through to a purée with the bottom of a ladle. Then spoon a little of the gravy over the meat and sprinkle with chopped Stilton, cover with pastry and bake for 45minutes at 200*C until crisp, bubbling and brown.

Serve with fondant potato (they're easy and delicious, google em), buttered kale, and parsnips and carrots that have been roasted with clementine juice and zest plus a little runny honey and salt and pepper. Oh and a big gravy boat of that cracking porky gravy!

The beer match: If you're feeling fancy then this is a brilliant dish to go with a fresh bottle of Fuller's Vintage Ale or alternatively it's little (but also fantastic tasting) brother, Fuller's 1845. The funky Stilton and sweet cranberry are crying out for a rich, full flavoured old ale like these Fullers, and the orange marmalade notes in the beer will also pair well with the clementine and honey parsnips and carrots.

It's a knockout match that you've got to give a go. Plus the beers are really easy to get a hold of - 1845 is sold in Tesco's and the Fuller's Vintage Ales are available from big Waitrose stores.

Dessert: Chocolate Truffle Torte

I won't recreate the recipe because it's not mine, it's Delia's, but all I'll say is this is an amazing dessert. Rich, intensely chocolatey and indulgent but not too sweet, I love it.

The beer match: There's too ways you can go with dessert, contrast or compliment. This time around my advice is to contrast because the chocolate tart is just so rich, meaning that the perfect beer to go with this is a Bachhus Belgian cherry kriek. Cherry and chocolate is a match made in heaven and the sweet, slightly sour flavour of this beer just cuts right through the chocolate and accentuates the fruitiness at the same time. It's a knockout match.

You can buy the paper wrapped bottles of bacchus kriek from most of the major supermarkets too so no problems getting hold of the beer.


So there we go, a tasty, exciting Christmas menu paired with some amazing beers that will compliment every course individually.

I hope you give it a go, and Merry Christmas!



  1. Neil - wonderful, wonderful. That Pie will be getting made in my house this winter, that's for sure. Love the Fuller's too - so much more than just 'a beer for cheese'. Thanks for taking part!

  2. When buying fresh scallops in Oban we were told by the fisherman his preference for cooking them.
    Fry bacon until very crispy then remove from pan, chop into small pieces and set aside. Then fry the scallops in the bacon fat and serve as you did sprinkled with the chopped bacon.

  3. I really like the sound of those scallops, especially with Pamela's addition (scallops & bacon mmmm)

    Some great ideas Neil cheers