Enjoy festive feast without stress

THOSE hosting Christmas lunch this year are most likely beginning to feel the pressure of putting together an impressive feast.

Christmas Day is almost upon us, so here are some tips to help prepare a decadent, affordable and stress-free yuletide meal.


Keeping food costs down

Owner of home entertaining business and cooking school, Life's a Feast, Gail Rast, said Christmas was a time to "cook something special" but that didn't mean it had to be expensive.

The entertaining expert said it was all about being organised, planning and thinking about "what was most appropriate".

"Plan a menu that's most appropriate to the type of Christmas entertaining you will be doing - it may be a sit-down formal dinner for six, a barbecue for 10, a buffet for 20 or a stand-up cocktail party for 50," Ms Rast said.

"Start looking through your cookbooks for ideas of dishes to prepare. There are many good websites that have numerous recipes and ideas too - refer to the Life's a Feast website for our recommended links. Look for recipes that can be made ahead of time and require a minimum of fuss. Stock up on non-perishable items, especially when you see them on sale.

"If you're organised you have time on your side and can take the time to shop around."


Buying meat and seafood

Owner of Meatworld Maroochydore, David Hamester, advised not leaving your trip to the butcher to the last-minute. He said pre-ordering would guarantee your order and everything you required would be there for you to pick up closer to the big date.

Pork leg is the 'Rolls Royce' of pork cuts for Christmas.

When choosing pork, he said it was important to buy fresh. Mr Hamester, who made sure to stock only local, 100% Australian pork, said fresh pork had a "nice pink colour about it".

Another sought-after meat over Christmas is, of course, ham.

To prolong the life of a ham once it is cut open, cover the ham with its rind and store it in a special ham bag. Soak the ham bag in white vinegar and water first and the ham will keep for at least two weeks, he said.

As a guide to determining how much meat is needed to keep guests satisfied, Mr Hamester recommended allowing 250g of meat per person.

"If you work on that you can't go too far wrong," he said.


Guide to buying alcohol

Not sure what's best to accompany your Christmas feast? A few suggestions include:

  • Turkey: Chardonnay is an ideal match for your Christmas turkey. With its creamy, buttery and complex character, it enhances the delicate flavours of the turkey.
  • Ham: Ham is a classic meat served at Christmas celebrations. Try a lighter style wine with ripe fruit character like pinot noir.
  • Seafood: Riesling generally pairs well with seafood, as it usually contains lemon, lime and mineral characters, which complement fresh and barbecued seafood dishes.
  • Pudding and desserts: Fruit puddings and sweet wines make a great pair. The sweeter the pudding, the sweeter the wine. Pair your sweeter fruit puddings with a botrytis riesling.
  • Non-wine drinkers: Beer is the perfect match for Christmas favourites. Lighter, lager beers work well with seafood and delicate flavours, while more robust, flavoursome ales pair well with richer meat dishes.

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