Category Archives: Mains

Main course recipes

On the eighth day of a gluten free Christmas …pigs in blankets

One Christmas trimming that is often forgotten about for coeliacs is pigs in blankets. I know you can just buy gluten free chipolata sausages and wrap smoked bacon around them, however, the purpose of this ‘12 days of a gluten free Christmas‘ series of blogs is to make it very easy for caterers to source and purchase gluten free alternatives.

Like many of the Christmas foods we have tried for this, I have never been offered gluten free pigs in blankets when eating out. My dining companions get the whole shebang – stuffing, pigs in blankets, gravy and I end up with just the meat and vegetables. There is plenty of time to source some of these trimmings and shove them in the freezer for your coeliac diners. I cannot over emphasise what a difference it would make to mine (and my fellow coeliacs) enjoyment of a Christmas meal out.

As it happens, we had quite a tough time finding pigs in blankets. In fact at the time of taste testing, only three retailers sold them. Hopefully, as we creep closer to the main day there may be more stockists.

As always, all of the products are reviewed independently and the commentary is our own.

Click the video below to see the results of our taste testing.

On the seventh day of a gluten free Christmas …brown bread for starters

For the seventh day of a gluten free Christmas we decided to try a selection of gluten free brown bread, so that it can be served to complement a starter or used for sandwiches.

In the past, gluten free bread has left a lot to be desired. In fact when I was first diagnosed as a coeliac, over twenty years ago, you could only get it from specialist health food shops and on prescription, prior to that it used to be sold in a tin! However, since then, there has been nothing short of a revolution. We started making and selling fresh, gluten free bread over 10 years ago when we ran our gluten free bakery, but the national availability of ‘fresh’ gluten free bread from retailers, has only really been in place for the past two/three years approximately.

This has made it so much easier for caterers (and friends and family) to ‘buy in’ gluten free options for the coeliac guest. What is important to remember though, is just buying in gluten free options is not enough. Managing them is another matter all together. Coeliacs react to the smallest amount of gluten – in order to label a food item gluten free, by law in the EU it must contain less than or equal to 20 parts per million gluten. To put that into perspective it’s equivalent to one teaspoon per 500 litres of liquid. Or to put it another way:

An average slice of bread weighs 50g.
The average slice of whole wheat bread contains 4.8g of gluten.
A coeliac will react to less than 20 parts per million of 4.8g
So, as a proportion, 20 millionths of 4.8g equals 0.000096g.
Therefore, a coeliac can only safely consume 0.0048g of bread a day (50g multiplied by 0.000096)
…a minuscule amount, so as you can see – even a few crumbs on a butter knife will make the coeliac guest ill.

Different food stuffs contain different levels of gluten, so for example pasta contains more gluten than bread and thus the amount safely allowable to consume is less. Moreover, all the food ingested during the day is cumulative, so a minor amount of gluten at lunch, plus a bit at dinner can make a coeliac very ill by the end of the day.

So, if you are providing a gluten free option, please ensure that clean utensils and boards are used, and that all steps are taken to reduce any potential risks.

As always, all of the products are reviewed independently and the commentary is our own.

Click the video below to see the results of our taste testing.

On the sixth day of a gluten free Christmas …stuffing

Whilst I was writing up day six of a gluten free Christmas I had a thought. I have never been offered gluten free stuffing to complement a roast dinner when eating out. I have been to many Christmas dinners for work events, eaten many roast lunches out and yet never ever had stuffing with my meal. Gluten free stuffing has been available for many years, both the just-add-water and the fresh, just-heat-and-serve variety. I wonder whether the majority of caterers don’t realise that there are many varieties of gluten free stuffings available now, hence why I added stuffing to my taste testing. Moreover, at this time of year, what’s Christmas without turkey and what’s turkey without stuffing?

The other side of the coin is, that making a gluten free stuffing is very easy and is such a good use of stale bread. By its very nature, gluten free bread tends to crumble when it is past its best and so mixing it with a bit of sage and sautéed onions to make a stuffing is a very good use of old bread and saves on waste. It can then be portioned up, frozen and used accordingly. It’s just another way of making a coeliac feel really special, because at the end of the day eating out is a real big thing for us.

I guess the fact that gluten free gravy is now generally available in establishments is a start, but can we have stuffing too please – especially at Christmas?

As always, all of the products are reviewed independently and the commentary is our own.

Click the video below to see the results of our taste testing.