Racking my brains for an appropriate Christmas Lunch or Boxing Day first course, I've come up with the idea of giving 'em Smoked Eel, served with a Creamed Horseradish Sauce. For some reason, this seems to me to be a suitable choice, and I think the subtle smokiness of the eel will balance all the richness and over-stuffing to follow.
If you've never had smoked eel, forget all the "cor blimey, Guv, jellied eel" nonsense. Smoked eel tastes entirely different, and with a properly made horseradish sauce, might even prove to be a sophisticated option.
It's not especially cheap, I have to admit. We've just ordered our smoked eel from the excellent Brown and Forrest, and an 8oz pack of smoked eel fillets (hot smoked over beech and apple) costs £14.00. You will need about 2oz per person.
We're going to serve it with slices of lemon and creamed horseradish sauce. I'm basing this on Simon Hopkinson's version:
First you need to make a horseradish concentrate. Peel a horseradish root and grate it finely across the base of the root. You will need 200g of the stuff.
Next, put the grated horseradish into a food processor. Add five tablespoons of water, two teaspoons of Maldon Salt, one and a half tablespoons of caster sugar, two and a half tablespoons of lemon juice, and two and a half tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Purée the ingredients until smooth. You will be able to keep the horseradish concentrate in a Kilner jar for up to two weeks.
When you want to make the creamed horseradish sauce, it's simplicity itself. Take four tablespoons of the horseradish concentrate you've made earlier, and whisk it into 200ml of double cream, adding a little bit more sugar and salt, to taste.