Here are a couple of easy recipes for Christmas Day if you don’t feel like slaving over a hot stove but still want to impress. Everything is really easy, and really tasty; each dish complements the other and when it’s all put out on the table, looks festive and exciting. I made these dishes for a last minute Christmas dinner with a bunch of our friends here in Newcastle before we head back to Darwin; to a very quiet Christmas day, consisting of just the two of us, three dogs, twelve chickens and hopefully a yummy seafood lunch.
You could serve these dishes as part of a bigger feast (we also had two roast chickens, a greek spinach pie, and multiple salads, all brought by our beautiful friends), but it is also nice just to have a few key dishes and really appreciate them. I find that sometimes at Christmas there is just so much to choose from that the flavours in each dish get hidden by one another; or maybe just by a big slosh of gravy.
I hope you’re all excited for Christmas and have some time off work to enjoy with your friends and family. Happy cooking!
5kg smoked ham leg
2/3 cup spiced rum
1 cup honey
1/3 cup molasses
3/4 cup marmalade
1 tbs fresh ginger, grated
handful of cloves
Grain mustard and fresh white bread, to serve
Combine all ingredients apart from the ham, mustard and bread in a medium saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Bring to the simmer and reduce heat to low. Continue to simmer for about 20mins or until thickened (be careful as it may foam up). Remove from heat to cool slightly. Strain through a sieve, reserving both the strained part and the unstrained.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees celcius. Line a large baking dish with baking paper.
To prepare the ham, cut through the skin around the bone in a zigzag pattern. Use your fingers to separate the skin from the fatty layer underneath (you need this fatty layer to hold the glaze so try not to remove it).
In a criss-cross pattern, score the fat in lines about 2cm apart. Press a clove into each cross section. (traditionally they are pressed into the centre of each square but I think more flavour gets into the ham like this).
Brush the ham with some of the strained glaze and place in the oven. Cook for about an hour, brushing with the glaze every 10mins.
Remove from the oven and cool for 15mins or so before carving. Serve warm or cool. Combine any leftover glaze with the chunky parts left from when it was strained; serve this alongside, as well as the mustard and bread.
Citrus and Fennel Salad
2 baby fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
6 baby radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 a spanish onion, thinly sliced
3 oranges, peeled and sliced (a mixture of regular and blood is good, if you can get them)
1 red grapefruit, peeled and sliced
A few big handfuls of mixed mescaline leaves
A handful of mint leaves, torn
Seeds from 1/2 a pomegranate
Olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt and pepper for dressing
Combine the fennel, lemon juice and pinch of salt in a bowl and toss to combine. Add the radishes and red onion and lightly toss, but don’t mix too much or the colour will leach out of the radishes.
In a large shallow bowl, arrange the mescaline leaves and most of the mint. Top with half of the fennel mixture, then half of the orange and grapefruit, then the rest of the fennel mixture and rest of the orange and grapefruit. Top with the pomegranate seeds and the rest of the mint. Very lightly drizzle with the olive oil and the red wine vinegar, season with salt and pepper.
Crispy Sweet Potato Bake
1-2 large white (purple skinned) sweet potato
6 red rascal potatoes
4 cloves garlic
Handful of fresh herbs, such as oregano, basil, parsley or sage
2 tbs dried mixed herbs
1/2 cup olive oil
3 tbs butter, melted
salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Thinly slice the sweet potato, potatoes and the garlic on a mandolin. (or just thinly slice by hand if you don’t have one, but take your time as the slices need to be very thin).
In a large bowl combine the sliced sweet potato, potatoes and garlic with the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix, making sure everything is well coated.
Use your oily hands to grease a baking dish. Arrange the slices of potato in a vertical position, like books on a shelf, filling the gaps with smaller slices and arranging so that the tray is evenly filled.
Sprinkle with a little extra salt and pepper and bake for about 45-60mins or until tops are brown and crispy and underneath is tender.