With December’s chilly arrival, the Christmas countdown is well and truly on and festive songs are in full flow! But this year, whether you’re cooking for a family of four or a bumper festive feast for 10 peeps or more, making the Christmas dinner a quick winner is up there on my festive wish list this year.
The perks of an easy Christmas dinner are many; less time in the kitchen equals more family time (and more mulled wine) – a sure winner this festive time! But where to start? There’s so much to prepare, so many mouths to feed and aunts and uncles to keep happy. Don’t worry: we’ve got your Christmas dinner in the bag right here. But yule need to get planning early with our make-it-easy, no-stress guide…
I like to take a leaf out of domestic goddess Nigella’s book and invest in a handy pack of foil trays when cooking dinner for many. A bonus for a busy day of cooking lots of meat and veg, these handy trays can be easily discarded after cooking; avoiding having to face that dreaded mountain of washing-up later in the day.
For the starter, main and dessert consider replacing your usual stoneware with natural wheat fibre bowls and plates. I love these environmentally friendly fabulous little bowls and plates which are made from fibrous wheat residue and have natural caramel colour. Inexpensive, they offer a great alternative to cheap, floppy paper plates and are much more robust. Perfect for serving up Christmas dinner and an eco-friendly winner!
Make starter a tasty but tempting treat by offering your guests a choice of warming and tempting soups. Easy and quick to cook, serve your soup with par-baked bread rolls from the supermarket bakery for delectable doughy softness. These take no time in the oven – and think about the amazing aroma of freshly baked bread; your guests will never guess it wasn’t homemade!
Keep aside some of the bread rolls and serve hot, layered with a special pâté or two. Choose favourites such as duck-liver parfait, chicken liver or smoked mackerel – all will go down a treat at this time of year. For vegetarians, try Sainsbury’s mushroom pate and for a simply but tasty vegan version, make this simple but delicious red pepper and butternut squash version.
The main event (plus the trimmings)
When choosing a turkey, opt for a crown rather than the whole bird. In doing so, your cooking time will be shorter and easier to manage, increasing the chances of ensuring your meat is perfectly cooked (avoiding the risk of dryness) which can be notoriously difficult to avoid when cooking a full turkey.
To make the veg an effortless task, choose frozen varieties. As well as being inexpensive and quick to cook, you’ll save time and effort by avoiding the faff of prepping, washing, peeling and cutting. Or if you prefer, go for a mix of fresh and frozen veg; choosing easily choppable fresh varieties, including broccoli and cauliflower.
And who doesn’t love roast potatoes with their Christmas dinner? Opt for a bag of pre-frozen beauties to get your roasties on their way in no time. Grab yourself a bag or two of McCain’s oven roast potatoes, ready in 30-40 minutes.
Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the customary trimmings, chestnuts included. But no need for a roasting fire (phew) – pick yourself a few packs of sweet chestnuts from your local supermarket. Merchant Gourmet’s whole chestnuts are a great choice – mix a few into your stuffing mix before cooking to add a touch of seasonal sweetness. And not forgetting the cranberry sauce; there are plenty of pre-made brands to choose from.
There’s no need to make the stuffing and gravy from scratch, either; buy a pack or two of Mrs Crimble’s stuffing mix and a pack of gravy granules. For the stuffing, the only extra ingredients you’ll require are 4 tablespoons of vegetable oil and 300ml of hot water. It’ll be ready in 20 minutes at 190°C.
Christmas pud (it’s so good)
The pièce de résistance of Christmas dinner, you know everyone’s waiting to tuck into their fruity Christmas pud served with lashings of sweet custard and brandy butter. But two hours to wait for the puds to steam? I find pre-made fruity supermarket varieties a dream – enough to feed your whole party and ready in super-quick time. Sainsbury’s six-month-aged pud serves up to eight and only takes five minutes in the microwave to bowl.
Follow this Christmas-dinner guide and you’ll not only be cutting out unnecessary time over the stove this festive season, you’ll also free up time to relax and spend some quality time with friends and loved ones – which is, after all, the whole point of Christmas.
This is a collaboration.