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Downton S5 Christmas Special: Nothing Heals Like a Restorative Broth

Caroling by the Christmas tree (ITV)

What a marvelous end to Downton Season 5.  The Christmas Special was like a perfectly laid out buffet with something for everyone. There were love stories, great injustice, selfless acts, grouse hunting, secret plots, reunions, touching farewells and Christmas carols.

It was a wonderful season, over for us in North America, but yet to be discovered in other parts of the world. Do come back and visit here from time to time as I continue to share the love of food from Downton era. Together we can get through Downton downtime together. I will be regularly sharing new recipes here, but you will find me more active on my Facebook and Twitter pages.

I was particularly delighted that one of the sub plot lines this episode featured “the challenge of the wooden spoon”. Dowager mentions the words of a previous maid ‘every good lady’s maid should know how to make a restorative broth.” When Miss Denker suggested that those days had not gone, Sprat pressed her to produce her own chicken broth. Seems fitting then that this week’s recipe is chicken broth.

Downton Dish

Preparing the Christmas Dinner (ITV)

So there it is, another season of Downton has been completed. A wonderful season, a full course meal which have left us pleasantly satiated, at least for now. Sadly there is only one season left of Downton Abbey.  Here are articles to help aid digestion.

What happened in S5 Christmas Special

Denker tries to make chicken broth (ITV)

A quick recap of what went on down and upstairs this past week:

  • Anna is in jail, visited by Mary. John confesses to the murder of Mr. Green and then vanishes.  Molesley and Miss Baxter track down the pub where Mr. Bates had had his lunch thus giving him an alibi. Bates returns as a Christmas miracle.
  • Tom seems serious this time about leaving Downton after Christmas.
  • The family is off to shoot grouse with their new in laws at Brancastle, leaving Violet behind to arrange the reunion of the Prince and Princess Kuragin. She sadly regrets that she will never receive another indecent proposal.
  • Brancaster Castle is getting ready to receive the guests, and Lord Sinderby’s butler Mr. Stowell is even more nasty than the Lord himself.  Mary sets Thomas to put Stowell in its place, and manages to reveal a secret of Lord Sinderby’s as well. Rose’s quick thinking saves him, finally gaining his respect.
  • As an aside, Alnwick Castle in Northumberland was cast to serve as Brancaster Castle.
  • Downton trades a painting for a new footman. Sounds like Daisy will have a new beau in Season 6. Go for it, Andy!
  • Mary seems interested in the dashing Henry Talbot (played by Mathew Goode), perhaps it is his powers of observation and his sweet ride.
  • Isobel gave Dickie walking papers after his sons refusal to accept their union.
  • Robert has health scare, which turns out to be an ulcer, but nevertheless is taken off rich foods and alcohol until Christmas.
  • It was another wonderful Christmas with caroling around the tree, lots of food and memories.
  • Mary, Tom and Edith have a touching moment in the nursery remembering Sybil.
  • Mr. Carson proposes to Elsie Hughes.  Finally!

My favorite quote: (Mrs. Hughes to Mr. Carson) “We are celebrating the fact I can still get a marriage proposal at my age.  Of course I will marry you, you old booby. I thought you would never ask.”

Abbey Cooks Entertain: 2nd Edition

2nd Edition is now Available!
2nd Edition is now Available!

A new season means viewing parties. Whether you are hosting 2 or 20, this book has lots of ideas. Containing 220+ traditional Downton era recipes with a modern twist, this is a great book to create some simple or complex dishes for your Mary or Anna.

This 448 page ebook has been updated to include both metric and imperial measurements and now includes famous Downton dishes from Season 1-5.  Book sales help offset my costs in food, equipment and time to provide you new recipes on a regular basis.

This ebook is now available for download here (see right) and on Amazon:  Abbey Cooks Entertain: 220 recipes inspired by Downton Abbey, Seasons 1 – 5

The good news is that the 2nd Edition is available on Amazon. The full book is 450 pages and will contain famous Downton recipes from Seasons 1-5.  The not so great news is that with the size of the book, Amazon needs to charge Lady Mary price to recoup their printing costs. Stay tuned for an alternative.

For Your Downton Abbey Collection

Marvelous additions to your Downton Collection.

Is There a Difference Between Stock and Broth

While we tend to use the terms interchangeably, there is a difference.  There are a number of ways to explain it, but I like this explanation the best:

Chicken stock tends to be made more from bony parts, whereas chicken broth is made more out of meat. Chicken stock tends to have a fuller mouth feel and richer flavor, due to the gelatin released by long-simmering bones.

If you don’t have a Daisy in your life to deliver home made broth to you, a good quality low-sodium chicken broth is next best thing.  You can enhance its flavor by adding any combination of the following and simmering for as long as you can: carrots, onions, leeks, celery, fennel, parsley, bay leaf, black peppercorns, or garlic.

Abbey Chicken Broth
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from Abbey Cooks Entertain
Abbey Chicken Broth
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Print Recipe
from Abbey Cooks Entertain
Servings Prep Time Cook Time
10people 20minutes 3hours
Servings Prep Time
10people 20minutes
Cook Time
Servings: people
Servings: people
  1. Place all the ingredients into a large stock pot.
  2. Add 4-6 cups of water to cover all the ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Lower the heat, cover partially and skim occasionally until the chicken is cooked. This will take an hour.
  4. Take the chicken out and when cooled, take the meat off the bones and cut or shred into pieces. Save for a meal or wonderful chicken noodle soup.
  5. Use a strainer to separate the liquids from solids. I like to press down on the solids to let some of the flavour come through, but it will give you a slightly more cloudy stock.
  6. If you are going to use right away, use a fat separator if you have one to remove the fat, or you can blot the top of the surface with paper towels, add ice cubes or simply skim with a large flat spoon.
  7. Cool immediately in large cooler of ice or a sink full of ice water to below 40 degrees. Place in refrigerator overnight. Remove solidified fat from surface of liquid and store in container with lid in refrigerator for 2 to 3 days or in freezer for up to 3 months.
  8. Wonderful in chicken noodle soup (see link below). I always keep a supply of soup frozen on hand when someone in the family is starting to feel unwell.
Recipe Notes

Making your own brothdoes takes a bit of time, but for the most part you just leave the pot simmering on the stove, and is well worth the effort. The trick is to keep a stockpile of ingredients in your freezer. I often save celery and broccoli stems and toss them into the freezer, ready for the soup pot. I have purchased bone in chicken breasts, and saved the bones for the post as well. Chicken wings are also great for the stock pot.

When I make broth I am intending to make chicken soup so I use the meat from the whole chicken to put back into the pot. This recipe is like making sour dough. You use some of your previous batch to enrich your current creation.

If you are starting from scratch you can always reach for a quality low sodium "stock in a box" if you don't let Spratt catch you. I also like adding wine to my stock to give it more depth of flavour. Experiment and make your own creation worthy of the Dowager's praise.

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2 thoughts on “Downton S5 Christmas Special: Nothing Heals Like a Restorative Broth

  1. I can’t tell you how MUCH I enjoy Downton Abbey Cooks! As an unabashed foodi, I’ve had the best fun trying some of the receipes you’ve posited, especially the Charlotte Rousse! My mom & I enjoyed it one Sunday night for our “Downton Tea” as we call it. I get all ready, move the tea table ( it’s really a coffee table) make the pot of tea & are ready for the opening! We have our dessert with a pot of tea while we watch each episode. One week, I made the Charlotte Rousse, as my great-grand father used to promise my mom & uncle that he would bring them each one when he went to the city for the day. He never did. Mom’s 90 now, so I made us one! Thank you for the reciepe so I could.

    1. What a lovely story. Thank you so much for sharing. As Granny would say “It would be a shame to miss such a good pudding”.

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