Thinking about holding Christmas in July at your place?
26 June, 2020
Our guide to cooking up a killer midwinter feast
A juicy burnished roast as the centrepiece, golden roast potatoes, a table heaving with glorious side dishes. There’s no denying the festivity and sense of celebration of a traditional Christmas roast. But for a lot of people, the very thought of preparing such a meal in the height of summer in December is unbearable.
Whether you want to call it Christmas in July, or just a midwinter feast, there’s no denying that now is actually the perfect time for Chatswood residents to embrace their inner Nigella and spend a glorious weekend day cooking up a storm.
The main event – what to centre your feast around
A classic Christmas feast is traditionally centred around some kind of roast. Turkey is undeniably popular (but can be a bit tricky to find at this time of year), with other popular choices including things like an impressive standing beef rib roast or a rolled loin of pork. More obscure choices include alternative birds like goose or duck, which you might be able to source online from a specialist supplier. And of course, there’s a lot to be said for a perfectly roasted chicken, like a Macro Organic Chicken from Woolworths which is frequently a larger bird, ideal for a crowd, and a more complex flavour than a conventionally reared chicken.
Vegetarians and vegans don’t need to miss out either. Nut roasts are popular for good reason, or you can order something from somewhere like Suzy Spoon’s Vegetarian Butcher.
How many sides is too many sides?
Of course, for some people, a midwinter roast is really all about the sides. And how many is enough? Well, that’s up to you, but really, does such a limit exist? Give your veggies the star treatment they deserve with ideas like:
- The ultimate roast potatoes: elevate your spuds to new heights with options like roasting in duck fat, adding fresh herbs or just parboiling and tossing in a pan before cooking to roughen up the edges for extra crispiness.
- Brussels sprouts: Forget boiling and instead roast or sauté your sprouts, combining them with something like bacon and apple, chorizo, roasted chestnuts or toasted almonds.
- Cauliflower: Make your cauli-cheese extra special by adding some broccoli and pre- roasting to get a yummy hint of charring before dousing in béchamel sauce and topping with a sharp cheese (a great cheddar is perfect and blue cheese can provide a delightful tang) before baking to perfection
- Maple-roasted parsnips: Nigella Lawson suggests these in her Christmas cookbook and we are here for it
As well as a table heaving with veggies (and the ideas above are just the beginning – there’s a big wide world of brilliant brassicas, earthy roots and delicious shoots out there), another traditional Christmas classic is stuffing. Bringing together things like breadcrumbs, dried fruits, nuts and herbs, bound with eggs and baked is actually a bucketload yummier than it sounds. Stuffing really is greater than the sum of its parts. To get you started, why not check out these ideas from Woolworths.
What about the sauces?
What’s a roast without gravy? Sad, that’s what. And of course, you can pick up a box of Gravox at Woolworths – we won’t judge! But if you’re wanting to create gravy magic, try this recipe for something a bit more special. Other sauces you might like, depending on what you’ve cooked, include cranberry sauce, apple sauce and the ever-so-British bread sauce.
Don’t forget dessert!
OK, so you’ve tested the limits of your clothing and are feeling a wee bit like a stuffed turkey yourself. But did somebody say dessert? Go classic with that Christmas pudding you’ve got left in the pantry after everyone ate the pavlova instead back in December. An alternative is something like a classic baked cheesecake. Or if everyone really is groaning, maybe just offer around a tray of spiced cookies and mince pies to nibble on with your tea or coffee.
Or even take your midwinter feast in a whole new direction!
These ideas are very northern Europe in vibe. But if you want to spice up your Christmas in July feast with the flavours of north Africa, the Middle East, Asia or anywhere else in the world that takes your culinary fancy, go wild.
The great thing about a celebration like a midwinter feast is that really, there are no rules. Experiment, have fun, and above all, enjoy getting together to share a fantastic meal with your nearest and dearest.