Five-Spice Crispy Pork Belly Recipe. Copyright © 2022 Terence Carter / Grantourismo. All Rights Reserved.

Christmas Dinner Recipes if You’re Looking for Alternatives to Roasts

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These Christmas dinner recipes are for those of you looking for alternatives to roasts. Our ideas for Christmas mains include everything from salmon with colcannon and cote de boeuf to five-spice pork belly, or brined pork with perfect mash. Wishing you a very merry Christmas and a safe festive season wherever you are in the world!

Before you browse our Christmas dinner recipes, if you didn’t land on our home page before arriving here, we’ve compiled our Christmas recipe collections into a section called Christmas Ideas. They include our best Christmas cocktail recipes, best dip recipes for crackers and crudités for festive parties, best Christmas starters, best Christmas salads, and best desserts for Christmas. We’ll add more recipes and recipe compilations between now and Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.

Now, before you jump to the recipes, we have a favour to ask. Grantourismo is reader-funded. If you’ve cooked our recipes and enjoyed them, please consider supporting Grantourismo by using our links to buy travel insurancebook accommodation, or book a tour on Get Your Guide. You could also browse our Grantourismo store for gifts for food lovers, including food-themed reusable cloth face masks designed with my images.

Another option is to support our epic Cambodian cuisine history and cookbook on Patreon or buy something on Amazon, such as these cookbooks for culinary travellersJames Beard award-winning cookbookscookbooks by Australian chefsclassic cookbooks for serious cookstravel books to inspire wanderlust, and gifts for Asian food lovers and picnic lovers.

We wish you all a wonderful Christmas and festive holiday period wherever you’re spending it! Please do enjoy your time with family and loved-ones if you’re able to get together. If you aren’t, we’re sending hugs. Do get in touch in the comments if you need any Christmas cooking advice or have any questions between now and the holidays.

Merry Christmas!
Lara & Terence xx

Christmas Dinner Recipes for Those of You Looking for Alternatives to Roasts

Five-Spice Crispy Pork Belly Recipe

This five-spice crispy pork belly is one of our best Christmas dinner recipes. This is one of our favourite ways to cook pork belly.

Terence spent a couple of years refining this dish and gets consistently fantastic results from this recipe. This five-spice crispy pork belly recipe is very different to his char siu pork recipe which is also sublime but requires a lot more time before you get to taste it.

This five-spice pork belly dish is a bit more refined and is perfect for a Christmas dinner main course. This recipe really makes a special meal that loved-ones won’t forget quickly.

Five-Spice Crispy Pork Belly Recipe – A Refined Rendition for a Dinner Party

I highly recommend serving this perfect creamy mashed potatoes on the side.

Creamy Mashed Potatoes Recipe – How to Make Perfect Potato Mash Every Time


Pan-Roasted Brined and Marinated Pork Chops Recipe for the Juiciest Pork Chops Ever

Of all these Christmas dinner recipes, this is perhaps my favourite. Terence’s pan-roasted, brined and marinated pork chops recipe makes some of the juiciest pork chops you’ll ever taste.

Terence’s brined pork chops recipe is a recipe that defies the notion that pork chops are generally dry and bland. Using a simple brining technique combined with a spicy marinade, the bland pork chop is transformed into a succulent and zesty main course.

Brining the pork keeps the meat moist and marinating adds flavour. If you’re not familiar with brining, a basic brine is a salt-water solution, but Terence always adds an equal amount of sugar to match the salt. That additional sweetness works beautifully for the pork.

The marinade gives the meat extra flavour, particularly when using Asian spices, which are more bold than European flavours. Our perfect mashed potatoes also work with this.

Pan-Roasted Brined and Marinated Pork Chops Recipe – How to Make the Juiciest Pork Chops Ever


Salmon Fillet with Colcannon Recipe and How to Get a Perfect Crispy Fish Skin

So you don’t want to do a roast but you’re still looking for formal Christmas dinner recipes so you can set the table and open some good bottles of wine, then try his salmon fillet with colcannon recipe, which has been a favourite of our’s since we first tasted the dish at restaurant Banc in Sydney back in the late Nineties.

The crispy skinned salmon fillet was cooked to perfection, the colcannon (an Irish mash potato) was creamy and rich, and while the red wine sauce seemed an unusual choice, its acidity worked well with a mouthful of the other ingredients. That salmon dish was the reason that we walked out of the restaurant after our first meal there clutching the cookbook, Banc, published in 2000.

One of the things that Terence loves about this recipe is that you can prep everything beforehand and disappear into the kitchen for 10 minutes to finish it if you’ve done your mis en place properly.

Reheat the mash and add some butter to the sauce while you cook the salmon. So simple, which means you get to spend more time together.

Salmon Fillet with Colcannon Recipe and How to Get a Perfect Crispy Salmon Skin

Aromatic Cote de Boeuf Recipe Courtesy of Chef Pierre Gagnaire

Of these five Christmas dinner recipes, this cote de boeuf recipe – or more correctly, côte de bœuf – courtesy of superstar French Chef Pierre Gagnaire is perhaps the most special and was one of our most memorable souvenirs of our stay in Paris in the spring of 2010, a quarter of the way through our 12 month global grand tour that launched Grantourismo.

The year before that trip we had the privilege of being flies on the wall for a night in Pierre Gagnaire’s Dubai restaurant kitchen when the chef made one of his frequent visits. That night, as head chef Olivier Biles fired orders of côte de bœuf so colossal, so fragrant, and so delicious, we had trouble focussing on the story we were working on.

Olivier would send out the côte de bœuf in a cast iron Dutch Oven to show customers the beautiful piece of meat they’d be getting before it hit the oven to complete the cooking. The huge chunks of beef had been seared and were surrounded by fragrant sprigs of thyme burning like incense. The fantastic aromas that wafted from the pot turned almost every head in the restaurant.

“Five minutes a side on the grill, ten minutes in the oven, and ten minutes rest,” the chef told us, when we asked for the recipe. Simple as that. And yet we guarantee it will become one of the most memorable meals you’ll enjoy together over the festive season.

Cote de Boeuf Recipe Courtesy of Chef Pierre Gagnaire in Paris

Please do let us know if you make any of our last minute Christmas dinner recipes as we’d love to know how they turn out for you. Merry Christmas!


Lara Dunston Patreon


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A travel and food writer who has experienced over 70 countries and written for The Guardian, Australian Gourmet Traveller, Feast, Delicious, National Geographic Traveller, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel+Leisure Southeast Asia, DestinAsian, TIME, CNN, The Independent, The Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel Magazine, AFAR, Wanderlust, International Traveller, Get Lost, Four Seasons Magazine, Fah Thai, Sawasdee, and more, as well as authored more than 40 guidebooks for Lonely Planet, DK, Footprint, Rough Guides, Fodors, Thomas Cook, and AA Guides.

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