15 'A Christmas Carol' Recipes To Inspire Your Holiday Festivities

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What is a Dickensian Christmas, and why is this concept so firmly embedded in our collective unconscious? It all goes back to what may be Charles Dickens' most famous short story: "A Christmas Carol." While not everyone has read the book, at some point in our lives we've probably all seen at least one of the numerous movie adaptations which range from the Mr. Magoo cartoon to Disney's Jim Carrey version to about a zillion other reboots, remakes, and Hallmark Channel spins on the theme of a big old meanie redeemed by a Christmas miracle. Where Dickens' idea of Christmas has really left its mark, however, has been on Christmas food traditions. As per BBC, it's likely that the author's own impoverished childhood a la Tiny Tim led him to feel that any proper holiday celebration should involve copious amounts of delicious food.

Some of the numerous dishes mentioned in the text of "A Christmas Carol" (accessed via Project Gutenberg) include mulled wine, beer, sausages, roast turkey, roast pork, game meat, a "great piece of cold roast" of unspecified type (maybe lamb or beef?), roast chestnuts, fruits, and plum pudding. While most of our recipes aren't strictly historical ones, we've still got you covered with just about everything you'll need to create a 21st-century Dickensian holiday feast.

1. Mulled Wine

When Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present drop in for an invisible visit to Scrooge's nephew Fred, they find him raising a glass of mulled wine in honor of his absent relative. Whether or not you have a grumpy uncle to toast, you'll still want to brew up a batch of this winter warmer. It couldn't be much simpler as the only things you'll need to make the drink are a bottle of red wine, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, and a splash of maple syrup for sweetening.

Recipe: Best Mulled Wine

2. Smoking Bishop

Smoking Bishop may sound like a cleric with a tobacco addiction, but it's actually a drink that, like Dickens himself, dates back to Victorian times. In fact, this drink plays a major role in the happiest part of "A Christmas Carol" when Scrooge pays a visit to the Cratchits and announces to his put-upon employee, "I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob!" If you, too, have any holiday amends to make, you could do worse than to preface your apologies with a glass of this mulled wine/port mixture.

Recipe: Best Wine Cocktails You Should Be Making At Home

3. Non-Alcoholic Christmas Punch

While "A Christmas Carol" does contain a number of instances where people are celebrating the holidays with a cup of good cheer of the alcoholic kind, Dickens declared himself "a great friend to Temperance" and authored such cautionary tales as "A Drunkard's Death." While his personal preference was for moderation over complete abstinence, it's not flying in the face of Dickensian Christmas tradition to make merry with a nonalcoholic beverage. This booze-free Christmas punch, while child-friendly, is meant for adults with its hint of astringency from fresh rosemary. Additional ingredients include both pomegranate and cranberry juice for a festive red hue and ginger ale to give it some fizz.

Recipe: Non-Alcoholic Christmas Punch

4. Beer Bread Recipe

Yet another way you can honor Dickensian tradition without indulging in alcohol is to use the stuff for baking. Beer is something Mr. Fezziwig's Christmas celebration had in plenty — this character, in case you've forgotten, is Scrooge's kindly first employer who was resurrected by the Ghost of Christmas past. Although his apprentices (the young Scrooge among them) were most likely drinking the beer at their holiday party, this beverage can also be used in bread-baking thanks to its yeast. With this easy bread recipe, there's no need for the proofing, kneading, and rising that traditional loaves typically require. Instead, you'll simply stir up a few simple ingredients and your beer bread will be ready for the oven.

Recipe: Beer Bread

5. Easy Breakfast Sausage

While the illusory holiday feast conjured up by the Ghost of Christmas Present features "long wreaths of sausages," those sound both inconvenient and excessive. Instead, we're offering up a recipe more suited to a Christmas morning meal: breakfast sausage that goes great with eggs, waffles, or french toast. While DIY sausage may sound difficult, it's really no more complicated than making a burger. To make this recipe, all you'll need to do is to mix some seasonings into a pound of ground pork, shape it into patties, and fry it up in a pan.

Recipe: Easy Breakfast Sausage

6. Roasted Pork Tenderloin

Besides the sausages, the festive (albeit imagined) spread laid out by the Ghost of Christmas Present included a suckling pig, but this is a dish that's far too large for most 21st-century holiday gatherings. What's more, it can also be somewhat off-putting to modern diners unused to eating meat with the head still attached. As a more palatable, cheaper, and more manageable option, we suggest a roast pork tenderloin. This meaty dish is both traditional and sufficiently festive for your Yuletide celebrations, but it won't require hauling out any heavy weaponry in order to carve it — and won't give you the stink-eye as you do so.

Recipe: Roasted Pork Tenderloin

7. Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey With A Twist

In a 2009 Christmas special called "The Night Before Good Eats," host Alton Brown dived into an exploration of old-time holiday fare assisted by the ghosts of Charles Dickens, Bob Cratchit, and Tiny Tim. While he did not roast a turkey — he opted for duck instead — the latter bird does not rate a mention in "A Christmas Carol." A turkey, however, is something the reformed Scrooge runs out on Christmas morning to purchase for the Cratchit family. We don't have any Victorian turkey recipes, but we do have one of Alton Brown's. We did change it up just a bit, though — while Brown likes to wet-brine his bird, we're going with a far less messy dry brine. The process is much more convenient for the holiday-harried cook and we're sure Mrs. Cratchit would surely approve.

Recipe: Alton Brown's Good Eats Roast Turkey With A Twist

8. Tender Rack Of Lamb

We are not actually sure whether "A Christmas Carol" makes any mention of lamb or even mutton — the latter meat being the more grown-up (and usually tougher) version. It does, however, speak of "great joints of meat," and if a rack of lamb isn't technically a joint, well, what can we say? It's not easy to come by knees and elbows in the meat department these days. Roast lamb, though, is a dish that was known in Victorian England as it appears in Mrs. Beeton's 1861 "The Book of Household Management," so we stand by our assertion that it would make for a suitably Dickensian entrée.

Recipe: Tender Rack Of Lamb

9. Tender Rump Roast

Beef, too, doesn't seem to be included in any Christmas feasts covered in Dickens' holiday classic, although it does rate a minor shout-out when Scrooge accuses Marley's ghost of being "an undigested bit of beef." According to English Heritage, though, roast beef was a popular Christmas dish during Victorian times for those who could afford it. The more things change, the more they stay the same, since rump roast still isn't exactly what you'd call budget-friendly. Even so, it is the holidays, so you might as well splurge a bit, right? With this slow-cooked roast in red wine pan juice, both your day and your dinner will be merry and bright.

Recipe: Tender Rump Roast

10. Easy Venison Meatloaf

Most of the games in "A Christmas Carol" are the kind that party guests might play, with blind-man's buff rating a mention along with something called "How, When, and Where" that may have been the 19th-century equivalent of Never Have I Ever. A couple of times, however, the word game is used to refer to something you eat and venison was not unknown on Victorian Christmas tables. Per English Heritage, it was a popular British holiday dish at the time. While deer meat's not typically sold in supermarkets, if you're a hunter or know someone who is, you might be able to wangle a pound of ground venison. That way, you can make this savory meatloaf and carry on a time-honored tradition.

Recipe: Easy Venison Meatloaf

11. Holiday Roast Nuts

Okay, we admit that the nuts specified here aren't festive holiday chestnuts, but you can certainly use them in place of the less-Christmassy almonds, cashews, and peanuts if you wish. You could also use filberts (aka hazelnuts), another nut that rates a mention in "A Christmas Carol." Whatever nuts you choose, you'll be sprinkling them with cinnamon sugar before roasting them on an open fire ... Or rather, in a closed oven, as is the modern way. The nuts will make your house smell pretty amazing as they cook -– perhaps not exactly Christmassy, but more like one of those summertime festivals where cinnamon nuts are sold in paper cones.

Recipe: Holiday Roasted Nuts

12. Candied Orange Peel

While the oranges mentioned in "A Christmas Carol" are the plain, unadorned kind, back in 1840s England these probably weren't too easy to come by. They probably needed to be imported from some far-off warm climate in the days when boats were slow and refrigeration consisted of nothing more than chunks of ice. Though we take plain old oranges are something we take for granted these days, we're not going to give you a recipe that asks you to move to Florida and plant a tree. Rather, it's a way to re-purpose orange peels by giving them a delicious candy coating. Add these treats to a candy tray for nibbling on or use it to garnish other desserts.

Recipe: Candied Orange Peel

13. Homemade Applesauce

Apples play a part in several of the "Christmas Carol" festivities, but only once are they used for cooking rather than being eaten raw or serving a decorative purpose. When Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present drop by to haunt the Cratchits, Belinda (Tiny Tim's big sis) is in the kitchen making applesauce to go with the family's roast goose. Goose, it seems from the story, was seen back then as the poor person's alternative to turkey. Now it's more of a specialty meat, but applesauce goes just as well with roast pork and this classic recipe may not be too much different from the one the Cratchits enjoyed at their holiday table.

Recipe: Homemade Applesauce

14. Poached Pears

Described as "luscious," pears are yet another one of the fruits that the Santa Claus-like Ghost of Christmas Present pulls out of his big bag of holiday tricks. If you received a box of Harry & David's finest as a gift, you could perhaps just pile them up in a bowl, but if you want to dress the pears up a bit, we suggest you try poaching them. These spiced, syrup-glazed pears can make for a simple, healthy(ish) dessert, or they could also work as a sweet and fruity side to complement a rich dish like roast pork.

Recipe: Poached Pears

15. Holiday Trifle

We kind of fibbed a bit about providing a recipe for plum pudding, but that dessert, ever since its shoutout in "A Christmas Carol," has been known as Christmas pudding in the U.K. (via BBC). The dish never really caught on in the U.S., however, perhaps because it tends to be somewhat fruitcakey in its flavor and we are not, on the whole, a nation of fruitcake lovers. In place of plum pudding, then, we present an alternative pudding-like British Christmas dessert: a tasty holiday trifle made from cake chunks topped with strawberry Jell-O, vanilla custard, and berries.

Recipe: Holiday Trifle