How to: Create a Festive Feast!

Happy Christmas holidays!

Since the end of term is fast approaching, we decided to have our own little in-house Christmas meal before we all parted ways for the holidays. A perfect excuse for eating a huge roast meal and getting in the festive mood! Although we didn’t commit to the full turkey, we did manage to make a very delicious roast chicken instead. As is customary with any Christmas meal we had to be running around manically trying to juggle all the different elements at once BUT the great thing about some of these dishes is that you can make them a little in advance and then reheat them just before you’re ready to serve. The brussel sprouts, parsnip & apple and the sweet potato mash can all be done like this. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

We’ve included the following recipes:

-Thyme, Rosemary and Lemon Roast Chicken

-Red Wine, Onion and Garlic Gravy

-Extra Crispy Rosemary Roast Potatoes

-Honey and Balsamic Roasted Carrots

-Sautéed Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Garlic

-Sweet Potato and Sage Mash

-Sautéed Parsnips with Apple and Thyme

-Stuffing & Pigs-in-Blankets

Thyme, Rosemary and Lemon Roast Chicken

The star of the show! This recipe is just a classic combination of flavours that work really well with roast chicken. The lemon that you stuff inside steams the chicken from the inside out for a lovely citrus-y aroma.

Ingredients (serves 6)

1 Large chicken

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

For the Rub:

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small handful of rosemary (stripped from stalks)

1 small handful of thyme (stripped from stalks)

Juice and zest of half a lemon

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

2 cloves garlic (crushed)

Method

Time: 1hr 40mins

Mix together all the elements of the rub and rub all over the chicken skin.

Stuff the squeezed lemon half inside the cavity of the bird (a delightful job!).

Remove the skin and chop the onion into quarters then chop the ends off the garlic cloves (don’t worry about skinning them) and scatter the onion and garlic into the baking tray around the chicken. Drizzle them with a bit of olive oil.

Place in the oven at 180 degrees (fan) and cook for 1 hr and 20 minutes.

Baste (spoon the cooking juices over) the chicken half way through cooking and mix around the juices and the onion.

Once the cooking time is up, take the chicken out and double-check that it is cooked by prodding a knife into the leg joint and the breast making sure the juices run clear (i.e. not pink or red).

Transfer the chicken on to a plate and cover with tin foil: leave to rest for 15 minutes whilst you get everything else on the table.

Save the onion, garlic and chicken juice mix in the cooking tray for the gravy.

Red wine, Onion and Garlic Gravy

In my opinion, gravy can make or break a roast dinner. Good gravy is essential to a Christmas meal and you want it to be full of the rich flavours of the meat that you have cooked. Chicken is traditionally paired with white wine gravy but red wine gives it an even better flavour in my opinion. To bulk it up a bit I tend to add some gravy granules as a bit of a cheat. The consistency of the gravy depends on how long you reduce it down for, so that is up to your personal preference.

Ingredients

The chicken juices + the garlic and onion

300 ml red wine

Bisto gravy granules

Method

Time: 20 mins

Transfer the cooking juices of the chicken and the cooked garlic and onion into a large saucepan, making sure to scrape the pan thoroughly (this is where all the flavour is!)

Depending on how many people you are cooking for you will have to judge how much gravy you need (but I always go for more than enough): follow the instructions on the Bisto pot as to the quantity of granules you’ll need per amount of boiling water. Mix the Bisto with the water then add into the chicken juice, garlic and onion mix in the saucepan.

Now add in the red wine and simmer the mixture until it is has reached the consistency that you prefer and the alcohol has cooked off.

Pass the mixture through a strainer into your gravy boat.

The left over bits that don’t pass through the strainer are also delicious and I like to mix them up with my roast potatoes before serving but this is optional.

Extra Crispy Rosemary Roast Potatoes

The basic roast potato recipe was inspired by Jamie, although you’ll be pleased to know the potatoes do not need over an hour in the oven, as he suggests, to go deliciously crispy. The secret ingredient here is goose fat. Fear not, you don’t need to go on a frantic hunt in the indoor market for a goose, as the fat can conveniently be bought in a pot from Tesco.

Ingredients (serves 6)

12 large roasting potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped into the size you like them

Goose fat

Salt and pepper

A hefty portion of rosemary

A sprinkling of thyme

Method

Time: 1hr 10mins

Start by pre-heating your oven to 190 degrees.

Rinse your peeled and chopped potatoes in cold water in a colander. Transfer to a large pot on the stove, and cover with cold water. Season the water, depending how salting you like your potatoes.

Bring the water to the boil, then simmer for about seven minutes.

Drain your potatoes in the colander, then return to the pot and allow to steam for about three minutes.

Line your potatoes on a baking tray, making sure they’re not overcrowded and on top of each other.

Drizzle the goose fat over generously, and sprinkle with some herbs.

Put the potatoes in the oven on a high shelf at 190 degrees. They should take about 40 minutes to go golden.

Take the potatoes out, season with sea salt, pepper and the rest of your herbs!

We mixed ours in with the carrots, as well as the juicy onion-garlic sauce-y mix from the chicken, as all the flavours blend together beautifully.

Honey and Balsamic Roasted Carrots

Honey roasted carrots is a classic but the addition of the balsamic glaze is a fun little addition that works really well. If you don’t have any glaze, don’t worry, just follow the rest of the recipe and it will still be just as tasty.

Ingredients (serves 6)

6 carrots (or one large carrot per person)

1 tbsp runny honey

1 tsp sea salt

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic glaze

1 tbsp chopped rosemary

Method

Time: 1 hr

Peel and then julienne the carrots

Mix the honey, salt, oil, chopped rosemary and balsamic glaze together in a large bowl then toss the chopped carrots through the mixture

Put in the oven at 180 degrees for about 40 minutes until lightly crispy

Sautéed Brussel Sprouts with Bacon and Garlic

Although the humble brussel sprout has a bit of a bad reputation, it can be absolutely delicious if cooked properly and paired with the right ingredients. Bacon and garlic are perfect partners for brussel sprouts and this combination goes so well with the rest of the roast dinner it would be a crime to miss it out!

Ingredients (serves 6)

700g brussel sprouts

2 garlic cloves

6 rashers of streaky bacon

A small handful of chopped rosemary

Olive oil

Method

Time: 35 mins

Chop the tough little bit of stalk off the bottom of each of your brussel sprouts then peel off the outer layer of leaves.

Once you have done this with all the sprouts, wash them under cold water and then cut them all in half.

Finely chop or crush the garlic cloves and cut the streaky bacon up into little bits (scissors are good for this job). Fry these together on a medium heat with some olive oil until the bacon is lightly browned.

Now add in the brussel sprouts and a little more olive oil and cook on a medium/low heat whilst stirring very regularly for about 25 minutes until all lightly browned and cooked through

Sweet Potato & Sage Mash

We included this comforting root-veg mash to add a bit of variety to the plate, as the smooth and creamy texture goes perfectly with the chicken. Sage is a great pairing with sweet potato, but it also goes beautifully with rosemary or thyme. We included carrots as well to bulk out the mash, and to make sure to get some Vitamin C into the dish!

Ingredients (Serves 8)

6 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 knobs of butter

A generous portion of fresh sage, chopped

Fresh rosemary, chopped

Sea salt

Pepper

Method

Time: 15 mins

Put your sweet potatoes and carrots (peeled and chopped) in a large pot of salted water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for ten minutes.

When the veg is soft, drain it in a colander and transfer to a large bowel. Add your butter, sage and rosemary (and a little cream if you’re feeling indulgent!)

Blend with a hand blender, or vigourously bash with a fork if you don’t have a blender or food processor.

Season with salt and pepper , and top with some fresh sage… or you could even fry the sage a little to make it crispy.

Sautéed Parsnips with Apple and Thyme

This is a deliciously wintery side that’s bursting with flavor, one we would recommend you all to add to your Christmas feast. The apples and parsnips complement each other perfectly, adding the perfect amount of sweetness to your Christmas plate. The recipe we based this on suggests roasting but, as I’m sure you’ll find, we had a distinct lack of oven space. Sautéeing does the job just as well.

Ingredients (Serves 8)

1 bag of parsnips

3 large cooking apples

2 cloves of minced garlic

A generous helping of thyme

Sea salt

Pepper

Method

Time: 50 mins

Peel your parsnips and then chop into chunks, about 1 inch by 1 inch.

Chop your cooking apples, leaving the skin on.

Heat olive oil in a large frying pan, then add your parsnips and apples to the pan. It doesn’t matter if they’re all piled on top of one another because you will be sautéing them for a long time, it is a slow process.

Add the garlic, and a generous amount of thyme and sea salt.

Sautée for about forty minutes, gently stirring. You need someone on duty pretty much the whole time, so all the fruit and veg softens, and goes golden.

Season with salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

Stuffing

Stuffing is a great addition to any Christmas meal and it is also very easy to find delicious pre-prepared or even dried stuffing in a supermarket. So if you’ve got your hands full (like we did!) with everything else, just go for the dried packeted stuff. All you have to do is add a bit of boiling water (follow the instructions on the pack) and some butter then chuck it in the oven for about half an hour.

Pigs-in-blankets

These are a Christmas meal staple, and are pretty self-explanatory. Make sure to buy chipolatas (NOT fat sausages) and streaky bacon. Wrap each sausage in the bacon and secure with a toothpick. We put ours in the oven for about half an hour at 190 degrees. After ten minutes, the pigs-in-blanks will start to give off a lot of water. You can pour this into the gravy to give it a really meaty flavour, and ensure the sausages don’t start to boil.

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