Christmas Dinner Cheats: How To Make A Shop-Bought Roast Dinner Look Totally Homemade
The Debrief: Because we don’t all have time to pluck a turkey and roast loads of potatoes from scratch alright?!
For those not versed in the lands of Cooking Without Losing Your Mind, inviting people round for a roast dinner is probably not a great idea. Unfortunately, some of us get drunk and make plans and then find out we promised to host a Christmas party the day before, despite the fact we can’t make cheese on toast without setting our sleeves aflame. Don’t panic, though, because there’s a foolproof way to whip up a roast for you and a few posho mates (if you've invited 30 people then sorry, but you’re screwed) and it rhymes with schmoopershmarket.
Or, more specifically, scho schoo scha schmoopershmarker schmand schmuy schmings schmen schmake schem schlook schome schmade (translation: go to the supermarket and buy things then make them look homemade).
There are a few ground rules before we begin to make magic and begin spinning the culinary web of lies and deceit. Firstly, make sure it’s all ready to go and sitting in the oven, staying warm, before they arrive so you can hide all the boxes. Secondly, don’t get drunk before or during the ‘cooking’ process. It will impair your judgement on what looks subtle, and you’ll undo all the good work by immediately showing everyone this article before they’ve even sat down.
Now, let’s get to the big boys: the components of the roast. Can be found in all good supermarkets.
What to buy: A pre-stuffed turkey. Double check on the label that the only thing required of you is to put it in the oven.
What to do with it: Put it in the oven while you’re doing everything else
The homemade touches: Sprinkle with rosemary, splatter grease all over the kitchen, and when you bring it in make sure you’ve got a tea towel covered in turkey juice over your arm and stay as quiet as possible on the ‘how did you stuff it’ question.
The roast potatoes
What to buy: Those pre-cooked roast potatoes that you put in the oven to heat up.
What to do with them: Put them in the oven.
The homemade touches: Chop a couple of them in half, wonkily, so they’ll cook weirdly and look a bit less uniform. Then overcook them until one of the edges of one potato goes a bit black so you can say, ‘Oh, I think I overcooked the potatoes.’ If they physically won’t overcook, or you’re too scared, then say, ‘Oh, I think I undercooked the potatoes.’ Add extra salt and extra fat to them too so people can complain about that (everyone complains about roast potatoes). Flakes of salt will make it look more homemade, as will rosemary.
What to buy: Literally anyone in the world can boil a broccoli, so buy some fresh broccoli and then buy some shit frozen peas and carrots from Iceland.
What to do with it: Cut the broccoli into edible chunks (so it looks like lots of little trees) and put it in boiling water for six minutes. Put the shit frozen veg in boiling water for as long as the packet says.
The homemade touch: Salt, pepper and butter will immediately make them taste great. Unfortunately, the texture of the carrots will be utterly repulsive – but because you’ve gone to the effort of doing fresh broccoli, nobody will assume they’re frozen. And you can cover them in gravy anyway. And maybe some more rosemary because, y’know, fuck it.
What to buy: A tub of ready-made microwaveable mash with a name like ‘creamy, buttery’ per person
What to do with it: Omigod, microwave it.
The homemade touch: Extra pepper, extra butter, wholegrain mustard. The holy trinity, and clever because the seeds in the wholegrain mustard will add a bitty, gritty texture that feels way more homemade than the smoothness of shop-bought mash. For added bonus points, pour the mash into a big pan, beat the shit out of it with a big wooden spoon and be all, ‘Oh, I’ll put this pan on the table, so we can all help ourselves ’cause I never know how much mash people like,’ so they can look at the pot (the outside of which is smeared with potato stains) and WEEP.
What to buy: Stock cubes and Bisto gravy
What to do with it: Boil water in a pan, sprinkle a few heaped tablespoons of Bisto in along with some stock cubes (it really depends how many people you’re serving, so I can’t really direct you to exact amounts. I say crumble one in, do a taste test, and keep going until you’ve got it right – the Bisto will act as a thickener, so if it’s a bit watery then opt for more of that).
The homemade touch: This is my favourite bit ever. You're going to pull tiny strings of turkey off the turkey and drop it into the pan so it looks like you've made your own gravy. If you feel the need, pull some of the stuffing out of its arse to add the to the messy homemade gravy effect. Also, it’s worth noting that you don’t want to make this gravy very thick, but watery and full of flavour/bits of meat. You big fraud.
Stuffing and cranberry sauce
What to buy: Paxo stuffing and cranberry sauce
What to do with it: Make the stuffing and put the jar of cranberry sauce on the table
The homemade touch: Mate, everyone makes Paxo stuffing and nobody under the age of 40 makes their own cranberry sauce. Just be honest about it for once in your cheating life.
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