The festive decorations adorning our retail stores are a stark reminder that Christmas day is just around the corner.
For many it’s a time to gather with family and friends.
My family has rotating roster that dictates who will be hosting Christmas lunch.
My wife and I are both chefs, so we at least have to put in half an effort when it’s our turn to host.
So we follow some basic rules for planning:
- My wife makes the rules, which she can change without notice.
- Don’t leave planning to the last minute – which I most likely would if I made the rules.
- The food should be relatively healthy; as the average person puts on 1kg at this time of year (I’m consistently above average). And, try to take it easy on the booze.
- Keep it simple; don’t be trapped in the kitchen all day while everyone else is enjoying themselves. Consider using disposable plates, because nobody appreciates floor-to-ceiling dirty dishes on Christmas day.
- To avoid food poisoning, keep hot food above 60oC and cold food below 5oC. Do you really want a family reunion in hospital on Boxing Day?
- Try not to prepare too much food. There’s often a ridiculous amount of leftover ham and salads etc. in the week following Christmas.
The days following Christmas are very predictable.
Exchanging or returning gifts (broken or unwanted), coping with a hangover, post-Christmas bargain hunting and lots of leftovers in the fridge.
Of all the leftovers, baked ham would be the most common. Most people don’t want to waste big chunks of meat – but how do you use leftover ham without getting bored?
A little imagination! But don’t make sandwiches, because that’s boring.
A cheesy ham omelet for breakfast would be better. Or, a filo pastry parcel filled with garlic rice and chopped ham.
My favourite recipe for leftover ham is ‘Easy Peasy Pasta Carbonara’.
- 500g pasta
- 100g chopped ham
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp cream
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ½ cup Parmesan cheese. Grated
- Cook the ham in a fry pan until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels. Set the ham aside.
- Cook the pasta as directed on package.
- Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks, cream, and garlic in a medium bowl and beat until well blended.
- When the pasta is cooked, drain and immediately return to the pot.
- Stir in the egg mixture and toss thoroughly until combined.
- Add the bacon and cheese and toss again to coat. Season if required.