Thursday, 30 November 2017

Christmas Dinner on a budget

Christmas dinner doesn't need to cost the earth – here's how to do it on a budget.

Christmas dinner from your childhood might be a little beyond your means, but as long as you have access to a kitchen, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t make your own budget version. It’s also a brilliant opportunity to show off your cooking skills to your friends.
First off, forget the turkey. They’re generally the most expensive part of any Christmas dinner, but probably not all that helpful for you. They’re massive and overpriced around Christmas. Supermarkets sell turkeys around £4.50 per kilo. Compare that to chicken – around £2.20 per kilo – and you can see where you can save money.
Next up, the veggies. Don’t be tempted to buy frozen roast potatoes: it’s cheaper and much nicer if you buy them loose, and do them yourself. Brussels sprouts are the great polariser, but fry them up with some pancetta, and voila! Awesome sprouts for everyone. Gravy, stuffing, and sauces don’t cost too much if you buy them ready made, and dessert is easy – there’s nothing nicer than your traditional Christmas pud. Sparkling fruit juice is a great complementary drink too.

This recipe assumes four people are attending. If there are more or less, simply divide all the ingredients by four, then multiply by the amount of people you need.
Approx. cost: £20 (£5 per person)
Main dish:
1 x whole chicken (approx. 1.5kg): £3.50
1kg potatoes, loose: 60p
300g carrots, loose: 20p
300g parsnips, loose: 50p
300g sprouts: £2
250g pancetta: £2
1x packet gravy mix: £1
190g stuffing mix: £1.20
1 x jar cranberry sauce: £1.00
1 x packet bread sauce mix: £1.00
Bits from the cupboard:
Olive oil
Christmas pudding: £3
2 x bottles sparkling fruit juice: £4

Pre-heat the oven to 240°C/gas mark 9. Rub the chicken with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Place in a roasting tray and cover with aluminium foil, with the shiny side facing down. Cook for one hour and 20 minutes. Baste by spooning the oil over the top around every 20 minutes to keep it moist. When there are 30 minutes left, take the foil off to brown the top.
Wait until the chicken has 45 mins left, then you cook the veggies, so everything will be ready at the same time. While the chicken is cooking, peel the potatoes, carrots and parsnips, chop them, and place them in a pan with just enough water to cover them. Heat on the hob until the water boils, then drain and ‘fluff’ them by stirring vigorously with a fork – this will make the edges crispy. Cover the bottom of a baking tray with a layer of oil, and heat this in the oven with the turkey. When it’s hot, add the veggies and cook for 15 mins, then turn them over and cook for another 20-30 mins until everything’s golden brown.
Start the sprouts when the chicken and veggies have about 15 minutes to go. Chop the sprouts, and heat a frying pan containing a coating of oil until it’s hot, then add the pancetta and brown it. Add the sprouts with a little water and fry for five minutes, stirring continuously, until they soften.
Just follow the packet instructions for everything else, and remember to factor in the time they’ll take, so everything is ready at the same time.

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