Christmas on plate, without any fuss, and on a budget

Gráinne O’Keefe: Everything you need for an easy, inexpensive Christmas lunch or dinner

Christmas dinner is my favourite meal of the year. It wasn’t always this way though. The run up to Christmas is a notoriously busy time for restaurants, and for restaurant workers it is usually early mornings, late nights and last minute present shopping through the crowds on Christmas Eve. I spent two consecutive Christmases working on the 25th and 26th of December, when I was in a hotel kitchen, and afterwards vowed to never eat turkey again.

Fast forward a few years and my enjoyment of Christmas has returned. I set aside more time to spend with family and meticulously plan the menu for the day (down to the late night Christmas sandwiches with a packet of cheese and onion).

I usually prep in advance, curing the trout, cooking the ham the evening before, stuffing and rolling the turkey, and any small little preparations that can be done to save time on the day. Every year Rick from Higgins Butchers provides me with the turkey and ham, and this year he will also have deboned turkey legs available in his shop.

These are some of my favourite Christmas dinner staples. The addition of miso to the roasties gives them an incredible umami depth of flavour. The key to the ham is waiting until it has cooled before adding the glaze on top so that it sticks on for the whole cooking time and gives that beautiful golden colour and caramelised flavour.

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The trout makes a perfect starter, or even a luxurious breakfast or brunch, and can be prepped two days in advance. The sticky toffee pudding is a popular choice for after dinner and is the perfect option for people who aren’t a fan of the traditional Christmas pudding.

Recipe 1: Beetroot cured trout, bread and butter pickles

Recipe 2: Stuffed turkey leg, honey glazed ham, miso roasties, turkey gravy and sprouts

Recipe 3: Christmas spiced sticky toffee pudding with Calvados toffee sauce