Foolproof Christmas dishes for 20 mates

2011-12-02 10:57

Christmas dinner can be a daunting prospect, but if you are hosting the main event this year, this foolproof, easy selection of recipes will save you from dishing up the same old fare.

These three meals, incorporating 12 recipes, have been costed to feed 20 people at a mere R100 a head.

Each meal incorporates a meat, starch and vegetable component. So if you have a more modest gathering, you can choose to cook just one or two of the complete meals.

Also, much of the preparation and some of the cooking can be done in advance, and the chef will tell you how to plan your kitchen time to make sure you don’t exit a frazzled wreck.

The quantities also ensure that there is plenty left-over for your guests to take home for Day of Goodwill (December 26) snacking and for you to take at least a few days off from the stove.

Menu one

Roast chicken with caramelised apple and ginger stuffing, served with a corn, broccoli and cherry tomato salad and citrus dressing

Of his selection for this meal, Afek says: “Roast chicken in South Africa is a must-have. The stuffing with the caramelised ginger and apple give it a nice depth and the bread, kitka, makes it light and fluffy.

“With corn (mealie or maize) being another starch, there’s no need for potatoes or rice with this dish and the citrus dressing complements the chicken and stuffing, creating a unique and delicious tastebud experience.”

Ingredients:

» 2x large chickens, about 1.4kg to 1.6kg each

» A few sprigs of fresh thyme

» 2 tablespoons of olive oil

» Salt and pepper

The stuffing:

» 1 kitka bread, cubed or crumbed

» 2 apples, peeled, cored and cubed

» 1 large root of ginger, peel and cut into strips

» 1 cup brown sugar

» 6 eggs

» Salt

» Olive oil for frying

Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Rub chickens with olive oil and thyme, then season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a heavy-based saucepan, add olive oil and fry ginger for two or three minutes.

Add brown sugar and cook until it starts to caramelise and all the sugar is melted. Add the apple and cook for a further three to five minutes on a low heat.

Let it cool.

Add the bread and six eggs to the mixture.

Blend well and season with salt. Fill the cavities of both chickens with the mixture until plumped up and full.

Tie the legs together with string if you have it, but it is not a necessity.

Put any spare stuffing into a dish and roast alongside the chicken.

Put the chickens in the preheated oven for one-and-a-half hours.

When the chicken turns brown, drop the temperature to 180°C.

Remove from oven, stick a skewer in the joint, if the juices run clear, it is done.

Let it rest for about 15 minutes before carving.

Tip: The stuffing can be made the day before (or the week before and frozen) and put in the fridge, but remember to take it out well before you want to stuff your prepared chickens.

Or otherwise, it will be too cold and will compromise the cooking time.

Corn, broccoli and cherry tomato salad with citrus dressing


Ingredients:


500g broccoli, steamed till tender


6 cobs of corn, precooked (boil for 10 minutes or micro for 5)


500g or two punnets of cherry tomatos


Dressing:


»1/2 cup olive oil


»1 heaped dessert spoon Dijon mustard


»1/4 cup honey


»2 oranges, juiced


»1 teaspoon orange rind, optional


»2 cloves garlic, crushed


»1 dried chilli or 1/4 teaspoon chilli powder or a fresh chilli


»salt and pepper for seasoning


Method:


Put the broccoli florets in a bowl, chop the tomatoes in half and add,

cut the corn off the cob lengthways and add. Add the dressing

ingredients and whisk together. Pour the dressing over the broccoli

corn, corn and tomatoes just before serving.


Tip: The dressing can be made in advance and put in the fridge


Menu two

Roast deboned lamb and Pilaf rice, served with tomato, spring onion, feta and mint salad

Deboned lamb

Afek says: “The idea here is to keep each dish simple, not too many flavours so it all works together in harmony.

“The rice, with cumin seeds and just a touch of mustard seed, gives it a very distinctive flavour, but it’s not overpowering.

Together this meal (lamb, cumin, feta and the mint and tomato) has a Mediterranean flavour – Greek perhaps.”

Ingredients:

» 3.5kg deboned leg of lamb, not butterflied. Ask to keep the bones

» Maldon salt or other flaked salt

Marinade:

» 4/5 sprigs of oreganum

» 4/5 sprigs of Thyme

» 1 sprig of Rosemary

» 1 cup olive oil

» 1 cup white wine

Method:

Preheat the oven to 250°C. Whisk the marinade ingredients together. Put the lamb in a sturdy plastic bag, like a large roasting bag. Pour the marinade into the bag and tie it up tight. Do this four to 12 hours before cooking.

Put the lamb bones on a baking tray if you have them and then put the lamb on top of them.

Sprinkle the lamb with flaked salt and put it in the hot oven for 15 minutes.

Reduce heat to 200°C and cook for a further one-and-a-half hours.

The meat should be medium.

For well done, add 30 minutes to the cooking time or return it to a preheated oven for 20 minutes before serving. Remember to let the lamb rest for 10 minutes before carving.

Tip: Get the lamb into the marinade overnight and take it out of the fridge well before you plan to cook it to get it to room temperature.


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