The best advice I can give anyone panicking about the Christmas turkey is – don’t. Small producers, who tend to employ more local labour, report that it should be business as usual for them, though they do advise ordering early.
If you can’t find a whole bird within your price range at your local farm, imagine yourself tucking into your seventh turkey sandwich of the season and consider scaling down. We waste the equivalent of 263,000 birds every Christmas, so you might even save yourself some money with a couple of legs (frankly, the best tasting bits) or a crown instead. Less turkey means more room for roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, bread sauce – you know, the things that everyone not so secretly prefers.
Equally, you could happily substitute a duck, a goose, a big chicken, or indeed a quail or a partridge apiece, depending on what’s available locally. Perhaps, however, this is the year that you finally realise that vague plan to ring the changes with a shoulder or belly of pork, which work well with the traditional turkey accompaniments and come with the added bonus of crackling. Alternatively, make baked ham the star, rather than the Boxing Day understudy, or swap the bread sauce for mint and serve up a slow-roasted shoulder of lamb, goat or hogget – more forgiving of the harassed cook than leg, and cheaper too.
Or maybe it’s time to come good on that claim you’ve really cut down on meat and ditch it altogether in favour of a vegan wellington, a stuffed squash, or any of the many wonderful vegetarian ideas Yotam Ottolenghi has provided the Guardian website with over the years. After all, Christmas is about more than just a big bird.