Christmas time is one of my favourite periods of the year. A crisp chill in the air, warm jumpers, scarves and hot chocolate fill everyone’s minds. A time where family, biological or chosen, come together and appreciate one and others company. Food has always been a monumental part of Christmas from me. I remember as a young child I would help my parents cook the big dinner, albeit my job was to toss the stuffing and nothing more, I still adored being a part of the process. As we get older and embark on new adventures in life, it can often be hard to return home on time for Christmas. Sometimes we even want to share the joy with the people we are living with now. While college Christmas is typically synonymous with day long shenanigans, spending time with our friends cooking up a nice meal can truly be something special. A hearty Christmas dinner also doesn’t have to break the bank! Below I’ve compiled recipes for all the classics including perfectly roasted chicken, creamy garlic mash, crisp roasties and flavourful root veg. You may have noticed there is a glaring lack of turkey, and you’d be right. Not only is chicken much cheaper than turkey, it also holds moisture much better. I’d take juicy chicken over dry turkey any day! I’ve included a shopping list with an average price of ingredients so you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything and can focus on creating magical memories. I’ve chosen rosemary as my herb of choice here as it is quite robust and compliments all of these ingredients. Feel free to swap it out for your favourite herb or add a couple together to build even more flavour.
🎅 Christmas Dinner on a Budget – Shopping List 🎅
Large Chicken – €4.50
1.5kg Potatoes – €2.79
0.5kg Carrots/Parsnips or a Combination of Both – €0.50
2 Onions – €0.60
500g Bread Crumbs – €1.25
Garlic – €0.20
Butter – €0.50
Honey – €0.50
Fresh Rosemary – €0.99
Brussels Sprouts – €0.89
Smoked Pancetta – €1.00
500ml Chicken Stock – €0.20
Olive Oil – €1.00
1 tbsp flour – Pantry Staple
Salt – Pantry Staple
Pepper – Pantry Staple
Milk – pantry Staple
Perfectly Roasted Chicken
- Large Chicken
- Olive Oil
- One of my biggest tips for cooking a roast chicken is to spatchcock it. If you haven’t heard of this technique before, do not fret as it is fairly straightforward. Place your chicken on a chopping board breast side down. Locate the backbone and using kitchen shears or scissors cut along either side of the bone. Once the backbone is removed, flip your bird back over and press down firmly between both breasts. You should hear a small crack and the chicken should be relatively flat.
- Transfer to a roasting tray and coat in olive oil, salt, pepper and finely chopped rosemary. Cooking a chicken like this ensures every part is cooked evenly. It also dramatically reduces cook time. Place the bird into a 220°C oven for 50 minutes or until the internal temp hits 74°C. Leave to rest for 10 minutes before carving. By spatchcocking, it should also be much easier to break down the bird.
Potatoes 2 Ways
- 1.5kg potatoes
- 4 cloves Garlic
- 100g Butter
- Splash of Milk
- Olive Oil
- Peel and chop potatoes into roughly 2cm pieces. Add to a pot of salted cold water and place over a high heat. This will ensure the potatoes are cooked evenly. Bring to a boil and cook for 5-10 minutes or until fork tender.
- Drain and set half the potatoes aside for roasting. Arrange them in a single layer on a sheet pan. Allow to cool slightly and drizzle over olive oil. You will need more than you think, so don’t be shy! Season with salt and pepper and gently agitate until fully coated. Place into an oven at 220°C for about an hour. You’ll want to remove the tray every so often and flip the potatoes. If they look particularly dry, add more olive oil. Remove once they are crisp all over and golden brown.
- For the mashed potatoes, return half the potatoes to the pot. Add 100g butter and mash until creamy. Season with salt, pepper and finely minced garlic. If you prefer looser potatoes, add a splash of milk.
- Bread Crumbs
- 1 Onion
- Rosemary (and any other herbs you’d like)
- 100g Butter
- Finely chop the onion and add to a bowl along with finely chopped herbs and breadcrumbs.
- Melt 100g butter in a small saucepan and add to breadcrumb mixture. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place whole mixture into a foil lined baking dish. Cover with foil and bake in a 220°C oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil in the final 5 minutes of cooking to crisp up the top.
Brussels Sprouts w/ Smokey Pancetta
- Brussels Sprouts
- Smoked Pancetta
- Although simple, this side dish elevates the humble Brussels sprout to new heights. Peel off outer layer of leaves and chop each sprout in half.
- Place pancetta into a cold frying pan and place on medium heat. Bringing the heat up slowly helps to render out more fat, which is what we are going to use to fry off the sprouts.
- Once the pancetta has expelled enough fat, add the halved sprouts to the pan. Fry on medium heat until cooked through but still crisp, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if needed.
Honey Drizzled Root Vegetables
- Carrots and/or Parsnips
- Olive oil
- Peel the root veg and chop in to batons of roughly the same size. Add to a roasting tray and toss in olive oil, salt, pepper and finely chopped rosemary.
- Roast at 220°C for 45 minutes until tender. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey and more fresh rosemary.
- Juices from roasted Chicken
- 500ml Chicken Stock
- 1 tbsp flour
- Add the juices from the roasted chicken into a saucepan along with 500ml of chicken stock (you can use stock cubes or pots here). Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- In a small bowl whisk 1 tbsp flour with a couple of tbsp of boiling water until the mixture is smooth and no lumps remain.
- Add the flour mixture to the chicken stock and quickly whisk. Continue to whisk over medium heat until the gravy starts to thicken. If the gravy is still too loose, repeat the second step again.
- Season the gravy with salt and pepper.
This whole Christmas feast comes together for just less than €15. For a group of 4 friends that comes out at just €3.75 each, the price of a coffee! By making some small changes to the traditional ingredients of a Christmas dinner you can create something just as tasty on a budget. However you choose to spend your holidays this year, I hope you can enjoy some delicious food with the ones you hold closest.
As always if you make any of the recipes featured in the Express, we would love to see them! You can post a picture on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag #ExpressCooks.