Ah, the traditional Festive Feast.
So, so much food and so, so much work goes into the day, just to end up feeling stuffed to the brim and sluggish as all hell the next day.
There's another post where I gave you some tips to surviving the feasting fiesta that goes down in December and hangs around through a bit of January while we’re all in holiday mode. If you missed it then check it out here.
Today, I’m going to give you a run down of how I easily feed 20 odd people twice in the month of December. It ain’t all bad! I love having a happy hoard of people at the end of the day, so there’s no slap up involved here. Nor packaged shortcuts as you can imagine!
Did you know in parts of Europe and the US, the shops have all their veg chopped up in foil oven trays ready to just buy and throw in on the day? Some dishes are already sauced up or cooked and pureed 🤢 That’s just plain lazy I reckon!
BUT I will give everyone shortcut graces, it’s making the right shortcut that counts.
Here’s how my Festive day looks.
I’m not a fan of Turkey. It’s not something I cook often so it’s a skill I can’t be phaffed mastering for one day of the year especially when I don’t really like the flavour anyway. My sub out is chicken.
Choose what suits your style of cooking, what cooking space you have and how much time you can spare.
I have a steam oven that I put chicken breasts in and I’ve mastered how long to steam for without drying it out. I have done chicken drummies in the oven before and they work well too. Chicken thighs chopped in half are just as easy and super quick. Either way, I throw a good dose of Herbalicious, Smokin' or Spring Zing on and set and forget. They take 30 minutes to steam then I’ll slice them up nicely allowing people to have just a small few pieces if they fancy.
PERFECTING THE TIMING
I need the same oven for the veggies, I cook the chook then keep it warm while the veg steam for 10 minutes before serving. While the veg cook the gravy gets made.
Check out my gravy basics here. I am not super anal or list driven but Christmas day I actually count back in time on a notepad so I know exactly what time everything goes in and out and on so it lands on the table when I said it would (give or take 15 minutes!). Also good when you need to delegate jobs to people if you pin it to the fridge! It’s worth it to save having overcooked veg, cold meat and hungry Nannas! I grew up knowing dinner or lunch was never going to be on time, I’m talking 1-2 hours after the proposed time. That tradition stops with me!
BACK TO THE MEAT
I love a roast lamb so depending on how much time you have, choose a boned leg for the quickest cook, butterflied is even quicker and you can rub all those gorgeous herbs and spices in all the nooks and crannies!
I’m talking 40 minutes max. BBQ that baby if you’re up for handing the baton to a bloke who feels lost in the kitchen while you buzz around. (they really do just get in the way!😆). A leg on the bone takes about twice as long depending on how big it is and a shoulder is your choice if you have the ability to throw it in the oven 5 hours beforehand - set and forget, keep warm, impossible to overcook!
THE HAM, IF YOU’RE A FAN
Ham, if you’re a fan….glazed or not glazed? They are injected full of sugar and all sorts of chemicals so if you can't afford the additive free version then go without or just do it and get over it! That's what I do as we gorge on the stuff for a week or two. No time? Then slice that baby up and be done with it! Otherwise, another good job for the man folk who like to stand around a BBQ.
You don’t have to get fancy with the glaze but I will say, keep it simple. Sweet Spice is your best friend this Christmas. A tablespoon of her in with a cup of honey melted in with half a cup of butter and you’re sorted.
THE COLOURS OF THE RAINBOW
When it comes to the veg, I like to have plenty! Having a steam oven is the ducks guts by far when it comes to veggies. 10 minutes and I’ve done two full size trays to perfection. Think greens and carrots here. Then I always have a roast veg salad that’s quite possibly been made the day before, or better still, by someone else! It’s literally Herbalicious roast vegetables cooled, then tossed with some rocket and a decent ¼ cup of salad dressing before serving. My salad dressings are pretty simple: pretty much equal portions of olive oil and apple cider vinegar with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Done.
I find spuds a waste of valuable real estate on the table and in my belly! I can’t resist a well roasted spud, but generally speaking it’s a tasteless hole filler and there’s way too many other scrummy things I’d rather fill that hole with!
For a big group like ours we usually have boiled pink eyes. The little guys, freshly dug and unpeeled. An easy job to delegate to one of your lucky punters before they arrive. If you have plenty of oven space then you could ask for them to be pre-boiled for they arrive and then give them a little press to squish slightly, drizzled with olive oil and bake on a high heat for 30 minutes.
DESSERT IS SUPER SIMPLE
My chocolate chia cake, with the addition of Sweet Spice instead of cinnamon, 4 drops of Twenty8’s orange essential oil and dressed beautifully with a healthy chocolate ganache. To make it look amazing, I’ve got a pretty Christmas decoration poked in the top and served with a big bowl of fresh berries. I’ve never been a fan of the Christmas pudding but I will dive into a piece of this!
TOP THREE SURVIVAL TIPS
Oh, and just chill, it doesn’t have to be perfect because it is all about being together. Traditions change through the generations so you can create your own or stick to what is the usual. Little variations can be snuck in over the years if you’re clever!