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Christmas dinner: Turkey is still favourite bird but duck and goose growing in popularity

By Rebecca Black

Published 23/12/2015

The traditional turkey Christmas dinner
The traditional turkey Christmas dinner
Roast duck in orange glaze
Christmas baked goose with apples cooked in a vintage style

Many of us may be looking forward to sitting down to a turkey with all the trimmings this week, but more and more people are straying away from the festive favourite.

The more traditional goose is making a comeback according to supermarkets and producers across Northern Ireland say orders of top-tier cuts of beef have mushroomed in recent years.

Meanwhile, smaller birds, such a duck and guinea fowl, are also becoming more popular, perhaps as they are more suited to gatherings with fewer people.

Goose is the traditional festive meal in the UK, however the American tradition of a turkey took over decades ago.

Peter Hannan of Meat Merchant's in Moira said turkey remains by far the most popular choice among his customers, but said they have seen orders of beef soar in recent years.

"A lot of people are moving but without a shadow of a doubt the main favourite is still turkey," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"It's the tradition. But over the last five years we have seen a lot of people moving away from feeling obliged to cook turkey and ham, and instead cooking something that family and friends all prefer, such as a great joint of beef.

"We can't keep racks of beef held out in the meat merchant - it has been unbelievable, the demand.

"The bottom line is that turkey and ham probably isn't the most exciting meal, and a lot of people tolerate it because it is Christmas, but they wouldn't have it by choice.

"There is now a confidence that people can have something else; they can stray away from the traditional turkey and ham, and it is quite acceptable.

"We are finding beef the big swing. People paying a little more for something very special."

Mr Hannan said some are buying steaks but most are buying sirloin or rib joints.

"The loin and the rib are the two prime cuts and that is what people are treating themselves too," he said.

"By the time you have a gammon and a turkey bought, and you put the price together, you can get a nice joint of beef for the same money."

Meanwhile, supermarket chain Sainsbury's have found, in terms of trimmings, Northern Ireland has a love affair with cranberry sauce.

Data from Sainsbury's Nectar card system has shown that Northern Irish shoppers are four times more likely than shoppers from other parts of the UK to plump for cranberry sauce.

Pigs in blankets are consistently popular across the UK for the supermarket, which expects to sell 700 tonnes of sprouts over the Christmas period and almost 120,000 turkeys yesterday alone.

Tesco also said it has found growing demand for turkey alternatives as the centrepiece for the Christmas feast.

A spokesman said in the last three years demand has grown by 22% for goose, by 20% for guinea fowl and by 20% for duck.

Tesco poultry buyer Kieran Gilmore put the trend down to celebrity chefs.

"With the growing popularity of TV cooking shows we are finding that more people than ever before are looking to jazz up their festive feasts," he said

"Whilst turkey remains as popular as ever, it's guinea fowl, goose and duck that have been growing the most in popularity with Christmas shoppers.

"Guinea fowl, is a particular gourmet treat with its rich and succulent taste. As it's smaller than the other traditional Christmas birds it's something to consider for a smaller gathering."

Belfast Telegraph

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