A Christmas feast - keep it simple!

With the festive season approaching, many people find the thought of preparing the Christmas dinner terrifying. Don't get frazzled. 

Appetiser: Dips and crudités

Give everyone time to mingle while partaking in a recipe of your choice. Dipperiffic with some easily made crudités and easy to consume with a drink in hand.

Main: Roasted free range chicken with fresh thyme and lemon

Ros Royal gave us this scrummy recipe. You could serve it with wild rice or golden roasted potatoes and pumpkin.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 1 x fresh free range chicken 1.2-1.4 kg.
  • 2 lemons
  • fresh thyme…from your herb garden! (I like to use lemon thyme, to give that wonderful extra lemon tang.
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper
  • sea salt

Method

  1. Set oven to 220°C
  2. Rinse chicken under cold water (including the cavity) and dry with kitchen paper.
  3. Cut lemon in half lengthways, and place inside cavity, along with a nice sized bunch of thyme.
  4. With a long piece of string, tie the lower ends of the legs together. Do the same with the wings.
  5. This will keep the extremities of the chook close to the body, and therefore not overcook the lower legs, or the wings.
  6. Place in stainless steel baking dish. Pour a dash of etra virgin olive oil over the bird, and sprinkle liberally with sea salt, and a grind of black pepper.
  7. Place in hot oven, and cook at this temperature for half an hour.
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 200°C, and continue cooking for another hour approximately, basting occasionally. The chicken will exude wonderful juices, so be sure to keep basting these over the chicken, to keep the bird moist, and packed with flavour.
  9. Test whether the chicken is cooked by inserting a skewer into the point between the breast and the leg: if cooked, the bird will exude clear juice. If there is a touch of pink the chicken needs a little more cooking.
  10. Remove cooked chicken to a baking tray, and cover very loosely with foil.
  11. Meanwhile, place the pan with the juices onto the stove, and heat until the juices bubble. Add a splash of white wine, and half a cup of water, and stir vigorously. Simmer gently for a couple of minutes, then strain into a serving jug.
  12. Return to the chook. Untie string and gently carve the legs, wings, and breast.
  13. Place attractively on a serving platter, or, if serving individually, place on individual dinner plates.
  14. Serve with the pan juices, wedges of lemon, baby potatoes, and my old favourite — a rocquet and avocado salad.

Wine suggestion Roast Chicken marries beautifully with a grassy young Semillon, or a delicious Pinot Noir.

Easy and stress-free, and kind to the digestive system.

Merry Christmas!

Dessert: Mixed berries in blackcurrant jelly

Ingredients (Serves 4)

  • 300g frozen mixed berries
  • 1 cup blackcurrant juice
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 teaspoons gelatine
  • 20 fresh mint leaves (the little leaves on top of the stalks)
  • 4 tablespoons fresh cream
  • A little extra mint and a couple of fresh or frozen currants for garnish (optional…or go the whole hog with a cake decoration: Santa, reindeer or sprig of holly)

If you like a stronger blackcurrant flavour, use only 1/4 cup boiling water and fruit juice for the rest.

Method

  1. Portion berries and mint leaves into 4 glass tumblers.
  2. Dissolve 3 teaspoons gelatine in 1 cup boiling water.
  3. Add 1 cup blackcurrant juice to the water and gelatine mixture, mix well.
  4. Pour the fruit juice mixture over the berries. Refrigerate until jelly sets.
  5. Serve berries in jelly with a tablespoon of fresh cream on top, and your Christmas garnish positioned in the ‘snow’.