It is often difficult to keep up with who is doing what to whom on Downton Abbey.  However, one of the constants is that the Earl of Grantham’s dysfunctional family eats frequently and well.  So for holiday fun, and to celebrate the arrival of the next season, we created a menu from The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook.   It is a clever cookbook filled with bits of trivia about cooking in the Downton Abbey era, etiquette lessons, and gossip about the characters we all love.  The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook consists of twelve chapters of recipes from very simple fare to extravagant meals to impress the most finicky of Anglophiles and gourmands.

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Our Downton Abbey Holiday Menu consisted of:

Starter:

Potatoes with Caviar and Crème Fraiche – One cannot go wrong with this combination.  It is a simple and impressive appetizer to make.

Main Course:

Crispy Roast Duck with Blackberry Sauce – Elegant and perfect to serve at a holiday dinner.  The sauce provides a fresh burst of flavor and acidity that compliments the rich flavor of the duck.  If you want to bring this recipe into the modern era, sous vide the duck breasts.

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Vegetables:

British Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts – A panoply of textures and flavors.  The rich flavor of the cream and caramel nuttiness from the chestnuts pair well with the Brussels Sprouts.

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Daisy’s Noisette Potatoes – Perfect potato pearls roasted in clarified butter until crispy with a beautiful golden brown color.  Dainty and worth the extra effort.

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The entire menu is something we would recreate again.  It was festive and flavorful and has us in the mood for the new season of Downton Abbey.  The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook is filled with recipes, anecdotes, and trivia that will entertain your mind and palate.  Pick up a copy and create a new tradition of Downton Abbey Sunday Dinners!

Crispy Roast Duck with Blackberry Sauce
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 2-3

Ingredients
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen blackberries (if frozen, thaw)
  • 1¾ cup chicken broth (we used no-salt added)
  • 2 tablespoons Cognac
  • 1 tablespoon Vermont maple syrup
  • 4 duck breast halves with skin
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste
  • additional blackberries for garnish

Instructions
  1. Melt ½ cup butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Slowly stir in sugar, stirring until sugar thoroughly dissolves and sauce turns a deep amber color, about 5-8 minutes. Pour in wine, orange juice, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar. Still stirring, bring entire mixture to a boil.
  3. Add berries and chicken broth to sauce; continue to boil until sauce thickens and is reduced to about 1½ cups, stirring occasionally. This will take about 20-30 minutes.
  4. Add the Cognac and Maple syrup. Using the back of a spoon, mash the berries into the mixture. Set aside.
  5. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. After trimming any excess fat from the duck breasts, cut small slits in the skin (but not the meat) of the duck. Thoroughly season breasts with salt and pepper.
  6. Heat a heavy, ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add duck skin side down and sear until lightly brown about 5 minutes. Turn over and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until touch reaches desired doneness (about 5 minutes for medium).
  7. As duck bakes, reheat blackberry sauce over low heat. Add last tablespoon of butter and whisk until just barely melted. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  8. Spoon sauce onto plates, then place duck atop sauce. Garnish with additional sauce and blackberries if so desired.

British Brussels Sprouts with Chestnuts
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Vegetable, Side
Serves: 6-8

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed & halved lengthwise
  • 1½ cups half and half
  • 1 cup crumbled roasted chestnuts

Instructions
  1. Using a large, heavy skillet, bring butter, salt, pepper, sugar and water to a boil over high heat. Lower heat and slowly stir in Brussels sprouts and let simmer, partially covered and stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes.
  2. Remove lid and turn up heat. Boil over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, or until water evaporates and Brussels sprouts are lightly browned.
  3. Stir in half and half and turn up heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequestly. Reduce heat and add in chestnuts, letting simmer while stirring occasionally, about 3-5 minutes or until chestnuts are heated through.

 

Daisy’s Noisette Potatoes
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Vegetable, Side
Serves: 4

Ingredients
  • 6 Russet potatoes
  • ¼ cup clarified butter
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Scrub and peel the potatoes under cold water. Use the smaller end of a melon-baller to scoop out at least 25 small balls of potato flesh. Keep round balls of potatoes in cold water until ready to cook.
  3. Heat butter in an ovenproof pan over medium heat. Saute the potato balls in butter over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Transfer pan to preheated oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potato balls are tender and golden. Season with salt and pepper, and serve.

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