First things first, if you’re not familiar with what’s involved in a gluten-free or wheat-free diet, give yourself a quick crash course on the coeliacs society website. Whether you’re cooking for someone with a mild intolerance or full-blown allergy, it’s best to be thorough and well-prepared.
But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered, from festive nibbles all the way through to the gluten-free mince pies you thought you didn’t have space for...
Starters and nibbles
Whether you open your presents before or after dinner, you’ve got to have something to keep you going before the main event. For a deliciously simple and gluten-free option, try these gourmet sodabread toasts from The Foods of Athenry. They come in four different flavours including honeyed rosemary and the classic multiseed. Then just add a topping of your preference - that’s a smear of cream cheese and a roll of smoked salmon for us!
You shouldn’t find wheat or gluten in a bird straight from the butchers, but do be wary of prepared meat such a frozen turkey crown with added flavours or ‘pre-injected basting’ as they might contain wheat-based proteins. Let’s be honest, you don’t want those anyway!
There’s hundreds of great turkey stuffing recipes out there on the internet, from this traditional cranberry and chestnut one to a favourite Jamie Oliver’s parsnip, pork and apple. The main issue for those with a gluten allergy or intolerance is the breadcrumbs which bulk out the stuffing and soak up the flavour so swap it out for gluten-free bread. Watch out for the inclusion of bacon or sausage meat though because you’ll need to buy a gluten-free version as suggested below.
Pigs in blankets
Award-winning Black Farmer pork sausages are available in UK supermarkets and most Irish supermarkets have a great selection of clearly marked gluten-free sausages in the chill cabinet. Take your time and read the labels carefully.
Gravy is another Christmas dinner essential that’s surprisingly easy to make gluten free and wheat free without anyone noticing the difference. Of course we think gravy is best made from scratch – and why not when you’ve got delicious juices from the resting meat there waiting to be used? For the simplest gravy, heat the meat juices mixed with a sprinkling of cornflour, seasoning and a bit of water from the vegetables on the hob. If you’ve got some to hand (and we’re sure you will) splash some red wine in there for extra richness of flavour. Alternatively – and if you’re got vegetarian or vegan guests as well – Knorr Classic Gravy granules are certified gluten-free.
Yes, you can still have bread sauce as part of your Christmas dinner – all you need is a loaf of white gluten-free bread! Try this super simple one by Jamie Oliver. Alternatively use a bread-substitute vegetable like celeriac as recommended in this recipe. There are also ready-made versions out there such as this mix package from Gordon Rhodes you can order online.
If you really are determined to make your Yorkshire puddings from scratch there are lots of great recipes out there that substitute the (wheat) flour with gluten-free flour (such as Dove’s Farm Regular White Gluten-Free Flour) combined with cornflour. There’s not always as much ‘oomph’ in the rise but your guests shouldn’t be disappointed by the flavour especially when filled up with gravy. Alternatively, pick up a gluten-free Yorkshire mix from your local supermarket or online like this one from Ocado.
No traditional Christmas roast is complete without both Christmas fruit cake and Christmas pudding. The gluten-free Foods of Athenry Christmas pudding contains dried fruit soaked in cider and brandy, mixed with our very own breadcrumb and steamed for five hours. For Christmas cake, tuck into our rich vine fruit cake iced with seasonal marzipan and fondant icing. If by a small miracle anyone is still hungry, make sure you’ve got some mince pies on hand, we’ve got both ready-made and jarred mince-meat straight from the bakery.
Whether it’s for you or for one or more of your guests, you’ll find cooking a “free-from” Christmas isn’t as hard as you might think. However, if you need specific ingredients like gluten-free sausages, Yorkshire puddings or flour, do make sure you buy it in advance because there’s nothing worse than a Christmas Eve panic shop. Recipes and production can always change so always check food product labels for the Coeliac Society's crossgrain symbol. And don’t forget the sprouts!