I love a good Christmas lunch. Coming to uni, discovering the wonders of a limited budget and the expensive intricacies of a Southerner’s palate, my view of food has definitely changed. While we all deserve something special this year, it is still difficult for us poor ol’ students to rustle up a Christmas dinner worthy of Mr Ramsay himself. But by all means we can attempt something along the lines of edible.
I saw a butcher’s video on Instagram that said, this year, most people will be opting for smaller turkeys. That seems like a logical choice for those in smaller families and groups (especially as large family Christmas lunches will be out), but they also raised the question of what will happen to all the large turkeys. They then said that we should buy the large turkeys (!), as they can be portioned off and frozen to use at a later date. As a student, I do love my tupperware and pretending that I’m budgeting, so if this is something that you enjoy, then it could possibly be on the cards. Turkey has the highest proportion of protein to grammage, especially considering how low in fat it naturally is. There are plenty of videos online of how to fillet the meat, and it looks like a lot of fun too, for those interested in butchery, of course.
The most important thing about treating the meat is to keep basting it, so cover it with oil and season the skin, and keep taking it out the oven to drizzle its own juices over itself. I like to keep my roast potatoes (after portioning and boiling until fluffy) in the same tray as the turkey, as its juices will also infuse the potatoes themselves and will make them deliciously crispy. They cook at very similar times so don’t be worried about one being done before the other.
Further ways to work in a bit of veg that is a bit more exciting can be done by honey roasting. I make a traybake of carrot and parsnips, parboiled if you like them more tender, and settled in a roasting tray with honey and oil. They caramelise and are a bit more exciting, and go really well with the umami taste of the turkey. For those who hate brussel sprouts, i.e. me, you can include them in your Christmas menu without just boiling them and making it all taste like old shoes. Mixing them in a tray with bacon and more oil and setting them at the bottom of the oven makes a more preferable crispy and salty buffet. The best part is that it doesn’t even taste like sprouts, but allows you to feel that bit more Christmassy.
For drinks, go for the festive classic of Bucks Fizz, which is essentially the same as a mimosa at lunch. Don’t fancy any alcohol? Go for an orange juice and lemonade instead – virtually the same thing but more avant-garde and a lot more affordable. My family’s beverage of choice is a Snowball, which is a mix of advcaat (that you can make yourself with egg yolks and brandy) and lemonade. Try garnishing your drinks for a bit of extra wow. A sugar-rimmed glass will make you feel unstoppable.
Try your hand at flambé for dessert, if you’re brave enough. If flaming Christmas Pudding isn’t your jam, then you can try a crepe suzette, poached pears, even setting a Yule Log alight will have some sort of entertainment factor, as well as the bonus of very melted chocolate. Try looking at the left hand side of supermarket shelves because that tends to be where the cheaper items are located. That might be the best place to look, unless you’re aiming for something extra special.
In short, there are plenty of ways to spice up an ordinary Christmas meal within a student budget. This Christmas, get wild and get fed!