As much as I love the concept of a white Christmas with a big feast with a traditional turkey and ham, etc, I have recently come to the conclusion that Christmases Down Under are pretty freakin awesome.
Being summer in the land down under during the festive season, many families will no doubt sit down to a traditional turkey dinner, despite the fact that it’s a million degrees outside, the sidewalks are melting and the backyard looks like a burn out barren wasteland. There will be flies the size of your pupils, all the men in the family will be crowded around the TV watching sport and the smell of barbecued meat mingles with the scent of a distant bushfire. (Image source, left)
We spraypaint white “snow” on our windows , leave santa cookies and milk and are fascinated with American Christmas movies when our Christmas couldn’t be any more different.
Christmas feasts have come a long way in Australia. Yes, many will have an elaborate roast dinner with all the trimmings, but many Aussies are taking advantage of our fresh, beautiful produce, seafood and great cuts of meat and putting together mouthwatering lunches and delectable dinners.
Ideas for Christmas dinner & lunch, Aussie style:
- A good old fashioned Aussie BBQ- complete with sausages, lean cuts of steak, hamburger patties, grilled onions, corn on the cob, marinated chicken skewers, prawns and fish fillets.
- To accompany the fine array of BBQ offerings, there’s the customary selection of salads- potato salad, pasta salad, Greek salad and maybe a rice salad.
- Desserts for the great Aussie Christmas BBQ include the good old fashioned pavlova (Image source, right), trifle, choc peppermint log and chocolate & coconut truffle balls.
Sit Down Lunch
Because Aussie Christmases tend to be ridiculously hot and stressful, your Christmas lunch hostess is not likely to want to be slaving over a hot oven and the guests aren’t likely to be wanting a heavy, hot lunch. So we often opt for a light lunch, full of fresh flavours rather than a heavy meal.
- Grilled or bake fish (whole of fillets)- barramundi, snapper, salmon and tuna are popular choices. Also, you can’t go wrong with prawns, scallops and oysters if wanting to impress your Christmas guests. We are luckyto have fantastic fresh seafood here down under and the seafood needs minimal preparation and cooking time so you can focus on the sides and desserts. (Image source, right).
- The easiest way to appeal to the appetites of your guests is to offer a selection of salads or vegetable sides. If serving seafood, I would serve a brown rice and vegetable salad with a citrus and dill dressing; wok stir fried ginger and garlic vegetables if serving Asian-inspired fish. A big green leafy salad never goes astray. Lemon and garlic sauteed potatoes are always a hit as well as a light spinach and walnut salad. The options are endless, but the idea is keep the flavours light, keep the texture light and you want lots of bright colour.
- The perfect dessert for a light Christmas lunch would be something like some merengue nests filled with fresh berries and whipped cream; layered berry trifles complete with sponge, custard and fresh fruit, a big fruit platter with honey cream or for a bit of tradition, but with minimal work- how about some brandy snaps filled with whipped cream?
Aussie Christmas Dinner
When the sun goes down on a sweltering Christmas day, the kids have tired themselves out playing with their new toys and the house starts to fill with dinner guests, who are undoubtably already exhausted and still stuff from the Christmas lunch they have already endured with their evil in-laws, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. So keep it simple, tasty and light to avoid going to bed like a stuffed turkey.
- Chicken or beef are popular options for a light dinner- something simple like a roasted chicken or a stuffed, rolled beef fillet or chicken breast are great, simple ideas that are very satisfying.
- Roast chicken stuffed with mushroom, leeks and bacon is delish and so moreish, your guests will forget how filling lunch was.
- If opting for seafood, a baked salmon with salsa verde makes a statement.
- Marinated chicken breast served with a lovely mango salsa is light and fresh and perfect for summer.
- A roulade- beef, chicken or even salmon, makes a stylish main course and the possibilities and combinations are endless. Plus, presentation is almost guaranteed to be impressive when plating up. (Image source,right)
- For the vegeterians, consider a layered chargrilled vegetable terrine.
- If you’re aching for a traditional turkey, try a different stuffing- walnut, raisin and sage; quince and pistachio; cranberry and walnut; pistachio and pancetta stuffing.
- You can’t go wrong by finishing the evening with a fruit and cheese platter. For the perfect cheese platter, you need to choose a selection of cheeses with various textures. Choose creamy cheeses like Brie and Camembert, a sharp crumbly vintage cheddar, a peppercorn cheese for a bit of spice, blue cheese (if that’s your thing), and perhaps a smoked cheese, or fruit cheese.
- To ensure that your cheese platter is perfect, serve with muscatels, dried figs, grapes, slices of crisp pear and red apple, walnuts, quince paste, water crackers and lavash bread or something special like a walnut bread.
- Be sure to serve your cheese at room temperature, don’t crowd the platter and ensure there is an individual knife for each cheese. (Image source, left)