Christmas dinner (on a budget)
Stuff the turkey sandwiches: Christmas dinner doesn’t have to break the bank! Here’s how to get festive (with all the trimmings) for around £3 a head.There’s nothing better than throwing a Christmas dinner with your mates before heading home to the ‘rents – and you can push the (gravy) boat out for less than you think. Here’s how to bring it together like Nigella.
Get a group of four or more mates and buy value or frozen ingredients to bring the cost down to as little as £3 per head. Or surf over to mysupermarket.com to see where you can grab the best buys.
A whole chicken works out cheapest pound-for-£ but can be tricky to get in a small oven, so we’ve gone for breast meat. If you’re veggie, add onions, frozen puff pastry and soft goat’s cheese to your list instead for Nigel Slater’s tasty tart recipe.
- Chicken or turkey breasts (1 per person)
- Potatoes (Maris Piper)
- Peas (frozen)
- Yorkshire puddings (ready-made frozen)
- Gravy granules
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
If budget or tastes stretch to it, turn up the good tidings with pigs-in-blankets (sausages wrapped in bacon), Brussels sprouts, sage and onion stuffing, and cranberry or bread sauce. Garlic, honey, herbs, flour and lemons are cheap flavour enhancers to have on-hand, too.
You’re Gordon Ramsey
If you’re uber confident, you can always opt to make a few more things from scratch – Yorkshire puddings, homemade gravy and even cranberry sauce. Being foul-mouthed and intensely disagreeable while you do it: optional.
Peel your potatoes, cut into bite-sized chunks and stick them in boiling water for 10 mins. Meanwhile put a couple of tablespoons of oil in a roasting pan and whack it in the oven at 220 degrees centigrade (this gets the oven ready for the meat, too).
Drain the par-boiled spuds in a colander or sieve – feel free to really bang them about you drain the water off, as any rough edges crisp up a treat. For even more heavenly crispiness, add a spoonful of flour now and shake to coat.
Carefully add the potatoes to the hot pan making sure they’re evenly oiled up. Add a dash of salt, pepper and herbs if you have them: roast for 15 minutes, turn the pieces over, and roast for another 15 minutes. Poke them with a fork to test if they’re done.
Top tip: Get your potatoes in the oven at the same time as the meat for well-timed serving: if it’s big enough, roast your meat and veg in the same pan to let the flavours mingle.
Carrots and parsnips
Peel and cut in half, then into long slices. In another oven dish (or the same pan if you can fit it all in), drizzle with oil and coat generously with honey. Sugar can work if you’re low on honey. Roast for 20 to 30 mins – keep turning and checking to get ’em how you like ’em.
Whack your chicken or turkey breasts in the oven for about 30-35 mins at 200 degrees, in a casserole dish with a little oil.
Optional kick: If you’ve any bacon rashers in the fridge, drape over the meat to keep it moist while cooking, and chuck in any seasoning (garlic cloves, herbs, lemon juice, honey or salt and pepper). Or up the stakes with our turkey stuffed with smoky bacon recipe.
- Roasting a whole chicken? Put it in for 20 mins at 220 degrees, then turn the heat down to 190 degrees for 45 mins until golden brown and crispy – put it in before the potatoes to stay on schedule.
- If you’re making the onion tart, you’ll also need to allow 20 mins prep and 45 mins cooking time.
Peas and Yorkshire puddings
If you’re running low on oven space serve up the majority and then hand round the Yorkshire puddings after they’re cooked – they only take a few minutes to heat.
Making your own puddings? Pop a little oil in a muffin tray and place it in the oven when you boil the spuds. Then mix 4 eggs with 350ml of milk, gradually whisk in 215g of self-raising flour and pour the batter into your hot tray and roast along with the potatoes. They’ll puff up and turn golden brown when ready. Don’t have muffin or cupcake baking trays? Just make a massive one in a normal tray and cut up once it’s cooked.
If you’re making your own gravy, just pour the juices from the meat into a pan, whisk in some flour to thicken, and bring to simmer with the water you used for the peas. Add a stock cube and some gravy browning (optional) for colour.
And there you have it. All you need now are some funny hats, bad puns and someone throwing a wobbly and voilà: Christmas dinner just like at home!
If you fancy something cheap and cheerful for afters, have a go at these simple chocolate truffles.
Have fun and let us know how you get on – send us pics to claim your bragging rights.
Merry Christmas from Save the Student!