Saturday, December 1, 2012

Cheap, cheap, cheap Christmas Lunch!

Why do we get all hysterical about Christmas Lunch?

I can turn out an impressive lunch any ol' day, and it doesn't have me hot and bothered for weeks or days in advance. Nor does it mean the kind of assault on my bank account that means no more bling for me for six months!

We've all gotta just calm the farm (as my twelve year old says) on this Christmas lunch thing.

A crisp white or patterned sheet on the table, a simple centrepiece, polished cutlery and glasses and a tasty meal with our family and friends close, and we're fine and dandy here thanks!

Here's my all time favourite for a posh but penny pinching impressive lunch. Good enough for guests, frugal enough for my peace of mind, and just as pretty as a picture!

Mama Guardians's Famous Festive Chicken Roll
Serve hot or cold

One will serve 4-8 people, depending on the size of the serves and how thick or thin you cut the roll. It also slices more readily into thinner slices, once chilled. You can double or triple the ingredients but I recommend making multiple rolls or miniature ones (adjusting the cooking time accordingly) over making one gigantic one. It won't present as prettily and will be too dry on the outside and not cooked through. This is also fabuloso, cooked in Texas muffin pans with the filling in the middle, or in smaller ones as a cocktail bite.

500gms minced meat ... turkey, chicken, pork, veal and beef are all good
2 eggs
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs (plus 1 cup extra)
1/4 cup milk
2 tbsp chopped dried fruit and/or nuts
2 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (chives, parsley, thyme)
Baking paper

Mix the mince, 1 egg, the milk, 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs, and the fresh herbs.

Take a sheet of baking paper and spread the mixture over the paper in a large rectangle about 20cm x 30cm.

Mix the other cup of breadcrumbs, the dried fruit and/or nuts, and the second egg. Spread this down the long side of the mince rectangle, closest to you.

Using the baking paper to start the roll, enclose the stuffing and then roll into a long sausage shape, finishing with the 'seam' underneath (it's a bit like rolling sushi or a swiss roll sponge). Press the ends together.

Place, seam down on a baking sheet, and bake covered for 45 minutes, then remove cover and bake for a further 10 minutes.

Serve sliced with relish or sweet chilli sauce, salad and crunchy bread.

I love Christmas. I don't love what it does to people's anxiety levels. I think this recipe helps reduce some of that anxiety. For under $30, I can feed 30-40 people by making six of these. I vary the fillings so that when they're cut, they look prettily jewelled. Add another $20 for seasonal fruit and salad leaves, and we're well fed with a memorable meal. $10 more and I can have make 2 of my Mums Pumpkin Fruit cakes for dessert, and we're as happy as Larry.

Here's the recipe in a few sentences, the way they used to be passed from family to family, hand to hand. Always a winner.

Save 1 cup mashed pumpkin from dinner for this cake. Cream 1 cup brown sugar and 125gms unsalted butter. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add the mashed pumpkin and 2 tablespoons Treacle. Add a cup and a half of mixed dried fruit. Stir well and add 2 cups Self Raising flour. Pour into a lined cake tin and bake at 175C for an hour and a half.
Have a calm Christmas....

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