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Christmas Veg Garland

Although in English a wreath is shaped like a fixed ring, and a garland is long and free-flowing, they both translate into the Italian "ghirlanda". I associate wreaths to funerals, so I called this a garland, regardless. Bear with me! This dish has a nice origin, I thought, which I'll mention at the end, diving into the recipe straightaway as usual.



Ingredients:

  • 1 or 2 sheets of puff pastry (depending on their dimensions, as you want enough to sit your garland in the middle, and your garland should fit one of your biggest flat serving dishes)

  • 1 egg

  • 400 gr Brussels sprouts

  • 4 smoked streaky rashers

  • 300 gr cooked chestnuts

  • 1/2 a big brown onion

  • 2 slugs vegetable oil

  • 150 gr carrots

  • 150gr parsnips

  • 30 gr butter

  • 1 tsp fine ground salt

  • 1 tsp freshly ground pepper


Method:

  • Peel and chop the carrots into thick slices

  • Boil them in plenty of salted water until very soft (or, which I did this year as it was much quicker and it retains more flavour, use a pressure cooker), drain and set aside

  • Peel and chop the parsnips into thick pieces

  • Boil them in plenty of salted water until very soft (or use a pressure cooker), but in any case keep them separate from the carrots, as they have different cooking times, drain them

  • Mash the carrots and the parsnips quite well and set aside

  • Peel the outer leaves of the Brussels sprouts, and remove a thin layer from the stalk

TIP: do not trim the stalk completely, as it would leave the buds exposed. If you do that, they'll become soggy - have a look below



  • Cook them following the method described here and set aside

  • Put the butter in a non stick pan, add the mash of carrots and parsnips and stir them on a medium heat

  • Add 1/2 tsp of fine ground salt if you boiled them in salted water, or a full tsp if you used the pressure cooker

  • Keep stirring them until quite dry and set aside

  • Cut out a big piece of baking paper that fits your biggest baking tray

  • Roll out your puff pastry sheets onto the baking paper, join them on the one side if using 2

  • Measure your biggest serving dish, and trim the excess puff pastry, keeping in mind that the garland will need to fit the serving dish (so it needs to be a tad smaller than that) but that you do need some excess for the outer border of the garland - I have an oval serving dish, not a round one, so my ring is actually oval

  • Mix the sprouts with the carrots and potato mash (they should have cooled enough to handle at this point) and pour it into the center of your puff pastry sheet

  • Using your hands, give them a ring shape


  • Pre-heat the oven at 200 degrees C (fan)

  • Slit the center into 8 segments using the knives, the pointy top being the center of the ring, and the base being the beginning of the vegetables

  • Lif the outside border of the garland and fold it against the vegetables, trimming the excess so it has an equal height all around - pinch the pastry with your fingers to ensure it stays in place and its tight enough

  • Lift the segments one by one, and fold them against the outer border, pressing them slightly against the vegetables

  • Beat the egg, then brush the edge and the segments with it



  • Carefully transfer the baking paper with your garland onto your baking tray if you've been working on the table

  • Bake for 15 mins or until it becomes nice and golden (watch that it doesn't burn)

  • Set aside and allow it to cool, as you'll serve it at room temperature

  • Transfer the garland to your serving dish and set aside till serving

  • Get a fabric ribbon and wrap a knot on the side you'll be presenting the dish from

TIP: You could use the space in the middle of the ring to arrange your carved ham and turkey when serving, I did it this year and it looks quite impressive.


How this dish came about:

  • Some of my friends don't like parsnips, others don't like sprouts. But I'm all about traditions, so these veggies are to be served at Christmas.

  • My friend Anna found this method of serving vegetables online somewhere and sent me a picture of her dish on Christmas Eve, which was made just of pan fried mixed vegetables. She was the one that came up with the idea of a ribbon.

  • I made up how to reach the results, and how to use the Christmas Day veggies instead.


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