Only 5 sleeps to go! As always at Christmas time, in among the good-news stories, are the media reports about the increased costs of living and the impact that has on many Australians. But there’s no need to worry about Christmas dinner breaking the bank. An abundant and festive Christmas feast doesn’t have to cost the earth – a few simple touches will make all the difference.
When my mum was a kid, her family ate a lot of lamb. It was the cheap meat. Chicken was a Christmas treat served once a year. With a bit of tender love and extra attention, the humble chook can be a magnificent centrepiece for the Christmas table.
My Christmas budget menu also contains sweet potato puree, crispy roast potatoes, buttered green beans with almonds, honeyed roast carrots and of course, gravy!
My recipe for a succulent rosemary, garlic and lemon roast chicken is here.
To make a stuffing – shred up half a loaf of bread and add it to about 4 onions which have been diced and sautéed until soft, with butter and whatever other flavours you fancy – lemon zest, parsley, garlic. Put it in a little baking dish and dot with butter. Bake for about an hour alongside the chicken.
For tips on how to make great gravy and crunchy roast potatoes, go to this blog.
Sweet potato puree is easy – peel and cut up a couple of sweet potatoes, boil until tender and drain well. Mash them with a good knob of butter and season with salt and pepper. To make them extra Christmassy, sprinkle a little nutmeg over the top.
For buttered green beans, blanch the beans in boiling water for a minute or two until still bright green and a little bit crunchy. Toss them with some butter, salt and pepper and scatter a few toasted slivered almonds over the top. Alternatively top them with some toasted sesame seeds or toss with roasted garlic. The biggest thing with green beans is to not overcook them.
For delicious honey roast carrots, look at the recipe here. It uses Dutch carrots, to make it more affordable, use ordinary carrots cut into pieces.
A big rich meal like this is lovely finished off with a simple dessert – try some beautiful ripe strawberries served with sour cream mixed with brown sugar to dip them in. Alternatively my lemon lime tart is very cheap to make and can be done ahead of time! Here’s a video of how to make it. You can use all lemons (no limes) to drop the price a bit.
So by using inexpensive seasonal fruit and vegetables, and making everything from scratch, you can put on a Christmas spread that is quite decadent and festive, and friendly on the wallet. Happy Christmas!