Blogmas Day 9: Christmas Dinner Made Easy(ish)

Friday, 9 December 2016
I’m not making any promises here, Christmas dinner is exhausting to make. There’s so much going on, and you will 100% manage to forget something or end up burning yourself with oil (although now I have evidence that my oil was definitely hot enough for the sprouts).

Being paranoid about forgetting something, I started my shopping list back around the 14th of November. To do this, I found it best to sit and make a meal plan. The actual planning can be the slowest part for me as I have to think everything through fully to make sure it’s all gluten free for Nuala, no tomatoes for Jason, and not too creamy for me. I think Mary might actually be the easiest to feet out of the 4 of us… that’s a strange thought… Anyway, I’m getting distracted! To plan my meal, I wrote it out as if we were at a restaurant. That way, I could go through and see exactly what I was cooking. The next step for me was to write out the individual shopping lists for each course, before finally combining the lists into the ultimate food shop, remembering to omit the things I already have in the flat. 
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Menu and shopping lists
Once again, I found myself at the planning stages. Yes, I had all my food on its way, I had fully planned the food, but the next step is to figure out timings. This is crucial when it comes to cooking a dinner of this style and size. I like to work backwards in this situation ie figure out what time you would like to be sitting down to each course, and subtract times from then to figure out when each thing should be done. It also helps, especially when in a student flat, to figure out which dishes will be needed for each course.

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Starter – Pork Terrine
Ingredients:
  • 200g skinless duck breast
  • 200g skinless chicken breast
  • 150g pork loin fillet
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 3 tbsp brandy
  • 2 tbsp thyme
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 250g thin rindless streaky bacon
  • 1kg sausage meat*
  • 150ml double cream
  • 4 tbsp parsley
  • 2 tbsp tarragon
  • 1 tbsp thyme
  • butter
  • salt and pepper to season
Method:
  1. Mix the duck, chicken, pork, garlic, brandy, 2 tbsp thyme, oil and pepper in a large bowl. Cover this and leave it to marinate in the fridge for 24 hours.
  2. Drain the meats and cut them into small chunks before browning them on the stove. Season, and then leave to cool.
  3. Grease a loaf tin (roughly 1 litre in size), and arrange the bacon on the base and sides – double layering the base, and leaving enough over the sides to fold over the top.
  4. Soften your sausage meat with cream and the rest of the herbs before mixing in the now cold meat. Scoop this into the loaf tin, pressing down well, before covering with more bacon over the top.
  5. Heat your oven to 180C (for a fan oven) and double wrap the top of the terrine in foil. Place the loaf tin in a large deep-sided roasting pan and pour boiling water up to half way.
  6. Bake for one hour before removing from the oven and leaving to cool. Place this in the fridge overnight.
  7. Place the tin in a pan of just boiled water in order to soften the bacon. Once softened, you should find it easy to remove the tin from the terrine.
  8. Slice and serve with salad.

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The next part is the fun part. Ever watched your parents stress on Christmas Day and wonder why? It’s because there are so many elements to the main course and half the time they aren’t even eaten! Here’s how I prepared the main course:
Turkey:-
Ingredients:
  • 1 turkey crown (most come with it written on the side how many it serves)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp orange juice
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chicken stock

Method:
  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Our oven is a little strange with temperatures so I always adjust the temperature to match the oven. Only you know your oven so go with your gut instinct!
  2. Mix, in a small bowl, your maple syrup, orange juice and thyme. This is your glaze.
  3. Put your turkey crown in a roasting tray – piece of advice, a disposable one is perfect for this and you’ll appreciate it when it’s time to do the dishes. Generously brush the skin with the glaze. Season well with salt and pepper.
  4. Pour chicken stock into the roasting tin around the turkey up to a depth of around 2cm (roughly 500ml). Again, depending on the people you’re cooking for, you might want to check your stock cubes to see if they contain gluten!
  5. Calculate your cooking time. Allow 20 minutes per kg plus an extra 70 minutes. Of course, a lot of the turkey crowns now come with this already calculated and written on the packaging so check there to save yourself any calculations!
  6. Place your turkey tin in the oven and remember to re-glaze every 20 minutes or so. As you can see, I’ll be setting timers for everything!
  7. When time is up, remove your turkey from the oven and allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. To check your turkey is cooked through, check the juices are running clear.
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Roast Potatoes – Now this is one that you can easily cheat – buy a pack of ready made and shove them in the oven! However, as a family we always have homemade roasties on Christmas Day. And with Nuala being unable to eat the ready made ones, I get the fun of making my own!
Ingredients:
  • approx 650-700g potatoes. Maris Piper work best in my opinion
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tbsp flour (gluten free in my case)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt and pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C (notice that here’s your first problem – two different temperatures for things that need to be done at the same time!) and peel and half your potatoes. For larger potatoes, you may wish to quarter them.
  2. Put your empty (yes empty) roasting tray in the oven to preheat.
  3. Parboil your potatoes for 8-10 minutes on the hob in a large pot of boiling water.
  4. Drain your potatoes and dry them, before tossing them in the mix of flour, oregano, turmeric and salt and pepper.
  5. Pour your oil into the hot tray and stick it back in the oven for 5 minutes. Allow your potatoes to sit out in the open during this time as it helps crisp them slightly.
  6. Add your potatoes to the oil and toss them so they’re fully coated in the oil. Roast for approximately 40 minutes, remembering to turn them half way, and take them out when golden and crispy.
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Mashed Potato – Again, this is something you can cheat by buying the ready made stuff. Alternatively, you can make your own in advance and then shove it in the microwave for 10 minutes before serving!
Ingredients:
  • 900g potatoes (can use the same ones as above!)
  • 250ml milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:
  1. Peel and cut your potatoes, same as in the roast potato section.
  2. Pop them in a pot and pour in enough water to cover them.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and bring the water to the boil. Once boiling, lower the heat so it’s simmering until the potatoes are soft (about 15 minutes) and drain.
  4. Return the potatoes to the pot and add your milk and butter.
  5. Using either a masher or an electric beater, mash the mix until smooth and creamy. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Carrots and Parsnips – Now, at home we tend to have this mashed and so it’s cooked the exact same way as the mashed potato recipe above (without the milk and with extra butter) however as a flat, we prefer the roasted vegetables.
Ingredients:
  • 250g carrots
  • 250g parsnips
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 4 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
Method:
  1. Peel your vegetables and preheat your oven to 220°C. As with the roast potatoes, put an empty tray into the oven to heat.
  2. Slice your vegetables into halves or quarters, so they are all a similar size.
  3. In a large bowl, mix the oil, honey and mustard. Add your vegetables and toss thoroughly to evenly coat the pieces.
  4. Place them on the hot tray and roast for around 30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
Note: I tend to cheat for this and instead, I only mix the mustard and the honey, before adding the vegetables to the same tray as the potatoes! Saves on dishes, and means I save a little oil!

Brussel Sprouts – the bane of all Christmas dinners. Who actually enjoys these? And yet I couldn’t count it as a Christmas dinner without these! So here’s how I make them slightly more tolerable.
Ingredients:
  • 15 sprouts halved length-wise
  • 1 and a half tbsp butter
  • 1 and a half tbsp oil
  • 3 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Method:
  1. Melt the butter in the oil in a pan over a medium-high heat.This is where I miss my gas hob at home! Do this until the butter is ‘foamy’
  2. Reduce the heat a little before adding the garlic. Cook this until it is lightly browned and then take it out and bin it (yes really)
  3. Add sprouts cut-side down, cover and cook without stirring on a medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  4. Serve them up!

For the GravyPigs in blankets and Stuffing I would recommend just buying ready made or powers that you just add water to for the gravy and stuffing. It saves a lot of time and hassle! Follow the instructions on the packaging and keep quiet when people compliment your skills on these three things!
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Dessert – Chocolate Mousse
The penultimate course! Our flat is filled with a strange mix. Nuala can’t eat anything glutenous, Jason tends to like most things but can be quite straight when telling you his opinion on something, Mary isn’t a fan of mixing sweet and savoury, none of the three of them like Christmas pudding, and I really am not a fan of cream. So we’re a bad bunch to make dessert for! This is why I settled on a nice mousse.
Ingredients:
  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp brandy (optional)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 100ml whipping cream
Method:
  1. Grate 50g of the chocolate and set it to one side.
  2. Melt the remaining chocolate in a bowl before stirring in your alcohol if you are using it.
  3. Whisk the egg whites into stiff peaks.
  4. Spoon in half the sugar, whisk into stiff peaks again, add the rest of the sugar and whisk again.
  5. Whip your cream in a separate bowl.
  6. Fold your melted chocolate into the egg and sugar mix. Once fully folded in, fold in the cream and two thirds of the grated chocolate.
  7. Spoon the final mixture into individual cups and chill in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours.
  8. Serve with the remaining grated chocolate sprinkled on top, and if you’re feeling fancy add a strawberry or some raspberries!
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And finally – Citrus Crush.
This has become a traditional pudding that I make. Actually, while writing this post I’ve just realised that I need to find new dishes to serve the mousse in as I had planned on using the dishes I use for citrus crush! Whoops… Anyway, this is a recipe for what can only be described as something somewhere between a sorbet and a slushy but it is so so tasty!
Ingredients:
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 300ml water
  • 2 grapefruits (halved)
  • 4 oranges (halved)
  • 2 limes (halved)
Method:
  1. Dissolve the sugar in the water in a pot on the hob. Remove the sugary water from the heat and leave to cool.
  2. Juice the fruit and sieve the juice into the now cooled sugar water.
  3. Pour this into a container, roughly pour in 2-3cm in depth but I find this doesn’t overly matter.
  4. Freeze this for 2 hours. Remove, and ‘fluff’ (I mash) it with a fork.
  5. Return it to the freezer and now fluff every half hour between now and serving. I tend to forget so I don’t think it overly matters but just as long as you give it a chance to fully freeze. Mash it before serving though!

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And that brings us to the end of a very long Christmas Dinner Recipe! I hope you find it useful, and if you do decide to try making it let me know how it goes!
 ​
​Ktkinnes xx

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