A Traditional French Christmas Dinner

By December 16, 2015Gastronomy, Recipes

Each family has its unique and special way to celebrate Christmas. In France, however, there are some traditional dishes you will certainly have the chance to taste during Christmas time, like foie graschapon (capon), or the Bûche de Noël. 

We have tried to sum up the best specialties you will find on the Christmas table, get ready to cook !

Apéritif

Traditionally each important dinner or lunch starts with an apéritif. You can have a glass of champagne or another sparkling wine (Vouvray, Saumur, Touraine) while tasting some amuse bouche, bite sized dishes usually made with puff pastry and filled with other ingredients like ham, cheese or even snails. They are just delicious and very easy to prepare !

amuse bouche

Appetizers

For most families, Christmas is the occasion to prepare one of the most renowned dishes of the French cuisine : foie gras. A must during winter holidays, foie gras is a real star during a typical French dinner. It is usually served with a toast and fig or onions confit. Other popular appetizers are oysters, generally served raw, and smoked salmon.

Of course you have to match your wine with the appetizer ! With foie gras you usually have a moëlleux like Côteaux du Layon (semi-sweet wine) or a very sweet Sauterne. With smoked salmon and oysters you can have a dry white wine as Sancerre or Pouilly Fuissé.

foie gras

Main Dish

The main course is traditionally a meat dish, usually roasted. You can have capon (chapon in French), turkey (dinde), even guinea fowl (pintade) or pheasant (faisan). They are usually stuffed with chestnut and served with mushrooms and some vegetables.

The perfect wine match is some good French red wine, as a Bordeaux or a Bourgogne.

capon with chestnuts

Cheese and Salad

It won’t be a typical French meal without the cheese platter ! Cheese is usually accompanied by a salad with a home-made vinaigrette (salad dressing). The typical vinaigrette is made of three ingredients : oil, vinegar and French mustard, with a bit salt and pepper. You can use so many types of oil, vinegar and mustard that it’s impossible to make up a unique list ! Olive oil, nut oil and even truffle oil, balsamic vinegar, apple vinegar… You can even add shallot or garlic to enhance the taste, or some honey for a more delicate flavor. You have endless possibilities !

The perfect cheese platter is made of a choice of cow, sheep and goat cheese. Here again you can choose according to your taste, there are so many cheeses in France !

A red wine will be perfect to go with your cheese platter.

cheese platter

Dessert

The typical Christmas dessert is the Bûche de Noël, or Yule Log. Generally prepared, presented, and garnished to look like a log, the Bûche de Noël is baked in a large, shallow Swiss roll pan, frosted, rolled to form a cylinder, and frosted again on the outside. The Bûche is topped with some figurines generally representing Santa and other Christmas characters. Find the entire recipe here.

To end this typical French holiday meal, the dessert can be accompanied by a glass of champagne (yes, again!)

Happy Holidays !

 

 

Author Valentina Perego

More posts by Valentina Perego

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