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Ideas for a super-quick and easy Christmas menu?

(33 Posts)
AchtungBaby Fri 23-Sep-11 12:29:38

Last year (when DS was ~4 months old), DH and I faffed about for hours making a roast Christmas dinner. The results were generally pretty good, but (in hindsight) we were sleep-deprived, and we would rather have relaxed and spent our time having fun with DS and our guests.

So, now we're not sure what to do this year - another roast Christmas dinner, or something much easier / quicker confused?

girlywhirly Fri 23-Sep-11 13:15:34

Well, if you think your guests would go for it, why not casserole some chicken portions in a lovely wine gravy, and roast some potatoes and root veg (potatoes, parsnips, carrots) You could do a few pigs in blankets and stuffing in a dish, and stir fry shredded sprouts or savoy cabbage with pancetta.

The casserole is easily assembled and won't take hours to cook, but will need no attention while in the oven. Peel and chop root veg on Christmas eve and store in the fridge in plastic bags, shove in roasting tin with oil and herbs to roast. You may need to check briefly how these are doing from time to time.

Make stuffing in advance (I make mine well ahead and freeze) thaw out and shove in oven to bake in an ovenproof dish, serve in wedges. Wrap streaky bacon around chipolatas and these can also be frozen in advance, just thaw completely and roast in oven.

This just leaves the sprouts or cabbage to be stir-fried before serving. Shred the veg, leaves only so remove stalks (and big veins on cabbage, this can be done the day before too) Heat wok, and add chopped pancetta slices, cook until beginning to crisp. Add veg, stir fry stirring well for 2 mins, then add a splash of hot water from kettle which will make it wilt slightly. As soon as the water has steamed off, it's ready!

If you have a starter, choose one requiring minimal assembly, and a pud that requires none.

rubyrubyruby Fri 23-Sep-11 13:22:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

oldraver Fri 23-Sep-11 14:16:51

The last few years I have have a stuffed duck from either M+S or Waitrose and they now come in a ready to roast tray and they take about an hour and a half, but best bit is you dont do anything to them. Most places do good quality trimmings and even roasties ready to cook now

You could go the whole hog and have it all 'bung in the oven' or just get a few bits and add your own fresh veg and stuff. I usually do my own Dauphinoise which once prepared and put in the oven doesnt really need touching

pissedrightoff Fri 23-Sep-11 21:12:53

As much as I love Christmas (and that is a lot) I really do not enjoy cooking, at all, even a little bit.

So all hard core foodies look away now as I explain my festive menu....

Put a pre-stuffed, pre-seasoned chicken in slow cooker first thing in the morning.

3 x cartons of Covent Garden soup as a starter

Heat up oven and arrange on my largest baking tray...Aunt bessies roast potatoes, potato croquettes, honey glazed parsnips.
Transfer chicken from slow cooker into a roasting tin and throw a couple of slices of bacon over the top.
Chuck all into the oven for around 35 mins.

When nearly ready, boil up some frozen button sprouts and microwave a tub of tesco fresh chicken gravy .

Dessert will be a choice of individual Christmas pudding with custard or Raspberry brulee cheescake. (Shop bought obv)

Fine dining it ain't but we enjoy it and takes less than an hour out of my day.

AchtungBaby Sat 24-Sep-11 09:11:01

Thanks for the replies, I didn't think that I'd get so many.

So, my options seem to be:
A. Get on with it, it's not that much work. It probably isn't, but DH did most of it last year, and he's not that used to cooking multi-course meals (we discovered at the last minute that we didn't actually know how to make gravy blush). At least I'll be able to help more this year.
B. Get on with it, and prepare as much in advance as you can. I don't think we did this last year, I'm sure it would help a lot.
C. Out-source to M+S / supermarket. This is definitely under consideration.

I think that rubyrubyruby is right, it has to be a roast (either turkey crown or beef), especially as we very rarely make one. We'll probably buy in most of the trimmings though (although I make rocking roast potatoes, so I'll make them), we'll prepare what we can in advance, and we'll ask our guest to bring snacks + desert. Last year it was more a case of 'buy everything that we need, then worry about it on the day'.

AchtungBaby Sat 24-Sep-11 09:13:20

Just to add, I like your style pissedrightoff grin.

DH and I are hardly fabulous chefs the rest of the year, so I'm not sure why I expect us to turn into them on Christmas day.

HattiFattner Sat 24-Sep-11 09:20:26

pissedrightoff has the right idea. Buy everything ready made/pre-prepared. Dont you dare feel guilty! If you have a young child and you are not passionate cooks, why put yourself through all that drama? Have something easy and good and sod what everyone else thinks.

And console yourself with the idea that many of us will be eating dry turkey, overcooked sprouts and instant gravy and trying to choke down auntie Mauds ancient and awful recipe christmas pud. Because we are at the inlaws for CHristmas.

AchtungBaby Sat 24-Sep-11 09:27:02

HattiFatner grin.

pissedrightoff Sat 24-Sep-11 09:34:56

Ooh thanks guys, was worried that I'd be kicked out and banned from this year's poncetastic thread. smile

tassisssss Sat 24-Sep-11 09:43:29

I like to cut corners and have it all...!

I try to have the starters and main courses totally made in advance.

Stuffing/bread sauce and cranberry sauce also made in advance.

All veg prepared on Christmas Eve. I like braised red cabbage but make it weeks in advance and freeze...it then reheats in the microwave.

BastardDog Sat 24-Sep-11 09:44:53

Yes. I'm with pissedrightoff. It's exactly what I do. The family love it and all I have to do is remove stuff from the freezer and put it in the oven at the appropriate time. Easy!

Bohica Sat 24-Sep-11 18:43:40

Would you kindly share your braised red cabbage recipe Tassisssss and how far in advance do you make it.

I'd love a new stuffing and cranberry recipe as well but I won't push my luck grin

YokoOhNo Sat 24-Sep-11 18:58:19

Outsource it to M&S. Definitely a lot more expensive though! I am convinced that M&S make all their money out of lazy cooks. Their clothes are crap and I count myself as a v lazy cook BTW, so no criticism. When you've got a baby, there's nowt wrong with buying ready cut carrot batons and a pre-stuffed turkey crown with the instructions on the side. Your guests will have a better time too if you are happy and relaxed. Ply them with drinka nd they wont remember half the meal anyway wink

For v quick to prepare starters, I usually do smoked salmon - peel it out the plastic, add some green garnish/side salad and a wodge of lemon. Serne with bread rools and butter. You can plate it up hours in advance and don't even have to switch on the gas to heat it. Easy peasy and looks quite posh.

YokoOhNo Sat 24-Sep-11 19:00:15

that would be "bread rolls and butter" blush

AchtungBaby Sun 25-Sep-11 08:15:51

Ooh yes, can you share your braised red cabbage recipe tassisssss?

Hurray, I now feel fully justified in having as lazy efficient a Christmas meal as I want. Thank goodness for DS.

I just read the recent replies to DH, who snorted and said 'Starters?!' grin.

HazeltheMcWitch Sun 25-Sep-11 15:27:45

Firstly I'd say that you tried it all homemade and made that day last year, and that did not suit you, so lose the guilt now about trying a different way!

I decide what are the family's my favourite thing, and I make them. And buy the rest ready-made. So there is no way I'd make bread sauce, for example; for me it's just not worth the bother.

Also have a think about when you want to eat, what did not get eaten last year and what was not finished - and that might scale back the amount of cooking for you. We also do not bother with starters, although do stuff ourselves on 'nibbly bits' beforehand. Mostly these are pastry and cheese-based - as I like eating and making them.

I am also unabashed about making and freezing beforehand. So, it is is something that I want homemade and freezes well, frozen it will be. I also make a vat of (Delia's) red cabbage in advance and freeze: I claim it is better frozen, although in hindsight I may have just made this up, and believed my own lie! I also make in bulk and freeze - sausage rolls, and veggie ones; mince pies; a quiche or two for Boxing Day; Delia's parmesan parsnips, and often a stuffing.

Also, delegate without shame, and never, never steam your Xmas pudding (on the day) to heat. Use the microwave and you will save a gajillion hours and you will not get overheated.

LoveInAColdClimate Sun 25-Sep-11 16:22:54

Another vote for prepping everything the day before and buying stuff from M&S for the stuff you really can't be faffed prepping. For example, we buy M&S pre-made cranberry sauce (not jars, the fresh stuff in trays) because, even though it's ever so easy to make (and quite enjoyable) it's One More Thing to do and the Marks' stuff is nice.

LoveInAColdClimate Sun 25-Sep-11 16:24:57

Oh yes, and agree with smoked salmon starter - easy and light before giant main meal. Did butternut squash soup one year and was lovely but too filling (ooooh, although now wondering about doing shot glasses of it...).

Waswondering Sun 25-Sep-11 16:31:23

I made Jamie's gravy last year - it's totally amazing, and you can do most of it in advance.

Also do veg on Christmas eve (with sherry and carols from Kings on R4) ... and if you can I recommend getting the table set in advance too (here breakfast is muffins and coffee in the lounge with paper being ripped open, so don't need the table for that).

... this year it's a v big deal as for the first time, my parents are coming to us!! Eeeek. Will be very lovely (but a bit daunting as they are both fabulous cooks.) So watching this with interest ....

Waswondering Sun 25-Sep-11 16:48:17

(http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/other-recipes/get-ahead-gravy Jamie's gravy recipe]])

Waswondering Sun 25-Sep-11 16:48:40

( recipe)

AchtungBaby Sun 25-Sep-11 20:32:52

Ah, delegating grin - we tried that with FIL last year, and he said 'No, there would be too many people in the kitchen!'.

I'm going to ask DH to read this thread, so that we can make a joint (ouch) decision.

AchtungBaby Sun 25-Sep-11 20:34:48

Thanks for the link to the gravy recipe Waswondering, I like that most of the hard work is done beforehand!

HazeltheMcWitch Sun 25-Sep-11 21:06:52

Re delegating:

FIL: "No, there would be too many people in the kitchen!"

Achtung: "That's ok, I'll give you a bowl and the peeler and you can peel the potatoes from this chair".

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