Dine Birmingham have released their first ever local food calendar, just in time for Christmas. Adele Franghiadi takes a look.Written by Adele Franghiadi on 13th December 2017
Recipe: Christmas Dinner Guide
As the end of term approaches, News Editor Phoebe Radford serves up a comprehensive guide on the perfect student Christmas dinner
The end of term is nigh, and many student houses like to get together for a Christmas dinner in the last few weeks of term, but cooking a full roast dinner is a bit of a stretch for many, both in budget and effort. When your specialty dish is a spaghetti bolognaise, a Christmas dinner is ambitious and perhaps a bit daunting.
That’s where Redbrick Food&Drink steps in. We’re here to provide a definitive guide to an easy Christmas dinner. If you’re unsure where to begin or what to do, you can follow the guide step-by-step, but if you’re feeling more confident, feel free to swap items or add in extras.
We’ve opted to create a chicken roast dinner, as chicken is more readily available and cheaper than turkey. They also vary more in size, so you can seek a smaller bird if you’re catering for a few, or a larger one if you have many mouths to feed. Timing for cooking can vary a little bit depending on the size of your bird, so double check information on the packaging. If in doubt, BBC Goodfood has a roast timer calculator online that you can consult.
Christmas Dinner Shopping List
First things first, you need to buy your food. Pre-prepared and frozen food can save you some time in some cases, but mostly it will just cost you more. For example, buying a frozen bag of carrots and parsnips is likely to cost a lot more than preparing yourself, which is not that much effort.
“Follow the rule of 30 minutes cooking for every 500g of meat.
However, buying gravy granules or a stuffing mix is much more straightforward than boiling up your own meat juices to make a stock for gravy, and faster than breaking up your own breadcrumbs for stuffing. We’re all in support of cutting some corners when it makes sense to, but don’t be fooled into thinking all pre-prepared food is worth the extra cost.
Here is our recommended shopping list:
- 1 Chicken
- Red onions
- 1 lemon
- Herbs – thyme, rosemary, bay
- Bag of potatoes
- Bag of carrots
- Bag of parsnips
- Brussel sprouts
- Gravy granules
- Stuffing mix
This will provide for a basic roast with chicken, veg, stuffing, gravy, and then a seasonal side of pigs in blankets. Quantity will depend on how many people you’re catering for, so customize this guide accordingly.
Similarly, if you are cooking for vegetarians, make sure you have a vegetarian gravy and that you don’t cook the potatoes or veg in meat fats. You can swap the meat for a vegetarian alternative like a nut roast or tart. Quorn also offer a range of meat-free roasts.
Some of your prep you will be able to do as you go along whilst other bits are cooking, but for things to run smoothly, you might like to prep beforehand.
- Firstly, get your chicken out of the fridge. Give it at least 30 minutes to warm up to room temperature.
- Turn your oven on to 200°C and leave to heat up.
- Wash and peel your potatoes, carrots and parsnips. Cut your potatoes in half, and cut your carrots and parsnips length ways into quarters. Parsnips can have quite a hard center, so cut this out if you like.
- Chop your onion and garlic into large chunks and spread over a roasting tray. Add in your herbs and drizzle in a generous amount of oil.
- Prick your lemon all over, then stuff it into the chicken cavity with some more herbs. Place your chicken in the tray, and drizzle in oil.
- It is also easiest to mix your stuffing now, especially if you want to roll it into stuffing balls. Follow the instructions on the mix, but this will normally involve mixing with boiling water and perhaps a bit of butter. Leave to one side for now.
The chicken will take the longest to cook. Follow the rule of 30 minutes cooking for every 500g of meat. For example, a 1.5kg chicken would therefore take 90 minutes in the oven. A 1.5kg chicken would serve around 4 people, and this guideline will follow the timings for a bird this size.
This cooking guide therefore takes 90 minutes, as the chicken will need the longest. If you end up using a bigger bird, add in the extra time from the beginning, but then all the later steps can be followed at the times given, which work like a count down. For example, where is says ‘25 mins – add your stuffing to the oven’ that means with 25 minutes left in the total cooking time.
90 minutes – put the chicken in the oven and set your timer to 90 minutes. You can then start the prep for everything else straight away, but you don’t need to rush! There is plenty of time!
80 mins – parboil your potatoes, carrots, and parsnips for 5-10 minutes. Drain, and then leave for one moment. If you don’t have enough space for all your vegetables in the chicken roasting tray, transfer them into another roasting tray and add some oil if you want them to be vegetarian-friendly.
60 mins – start to prepare your pigs in blankets. Cut your rashers of bacon in half length-ways, and wrap around your chipolatas. Place the pigs in blankets in a tray.
45 mins – if you’re still preparing your pigs in blankets, just take a moment to put your roast vegetables in the oven, either adding them to the roast chicken tray if they will fit, or in their own tray. Check how the chicken is looking, if it looks a bit dry, drizzle some more oil over the bird.
35 mins – put your pigs in blankets in the oven. Then, grab your stuffing mix and either roll into balls and place on a tray, or fill an oven proof dish with the stuffing.
25 mins – add your stuffing to the oven.
Everything you needed to get into the oven is now done, with 25 minutes of cooking time left. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on how everything is doing, and drizzling the chicken in more oil if it looks to be drying out.
The last two things you need to prepare are the sprouts and the gravy. Sprouts will take about 5 minutes on the hob in boiling water. Whilst the sprouts are simmering, you can prepare your gravy according to the instructions of whatever granules you’ve bought. This should not involve much more than pouring hot water over and mixing.
Lay the table! If you’ve been doing the cooking solo, then this is definitely a job you can pass on.
After 90 minutes in the oven, your chicken should be done. Get the chicken out the oven first, and leave to sit for about 10 minutes whilst you get everything else out of the oven and serve up.
“If you have the space to warm your plates in the oven, then do!
If you don’t have the space or wherewithal to put all the veg and sides into serving dishes, then it is probably best to serve directly on to plates. If you have the space to warm your plates in the oven, then do!
Having rested for at least 10 minutes, it’s time to carve your chicken! This is quite straightforward, cutting along the breast and thigh, but if in doubt, there are lots of youtube videos on this.
Serve up, and enjoy!