For many, Christmas dinner is one of the most festive meals prepared all year (maybe even more so than Thanksgiving). You spend weeks planning the menu, decorating your home, cooking and baking, in anticipation of the meal. Some may entertain large numbers of people, while others host just a few; however large the party of guests coming to your home, there is undoubtedly a lot of pressure riding on the host or hostess' shoulders.
So, when something happens along the way, whether it’s as simple as forgetting to order a cake for dessert, or your main dish not being ready in time, panic might set in just thinking about all the hungry mouths you have to feed.
But this year, it won’t — we’ve got some last-minute quick Christmas meal fixes that will save the day.
Didn’t Plan an Appetizer
If you have a meal to serve your guests, and a drink to put in their hand, the situation is not too dire. However, if you have some snack mixes or nuts in your pantry — even candy — place a couple of bowls filled with these for people to nibble on (and it won’t look like you spaced things out). Have crackers, jam, and a spreadable cheese like Boursin on hand? Unmold the Boursin onto a platter, and dump the jar of jam on top. Serve with crackers for an instant appetizer that everyone will rave about.
Ran out of Bubbly
While there is no good excuse for this (it is the holidays, after all), when you must offer your guests a drink that packs a punch but have no bubbly to offer, my favorite trick is to spice up a cheap white wine with an ounce or two of St-Germain (or another liqueur like Solerno, Aperol, or Chambord), a couple of ice cubes, and a splash of sparkling water. Add a twist of lemon or orange for a brightly colored finish — and no one will know the drink was a last-minute concoction.
An Overcooked Roast
If you forgot about the beef roast in the oven, and it comes out much too dry to serve, this is a delicious quick-fix. Simply cut up the meat into bite-sized pieces and gently heat the meat in a pre-made sauce, like the Tikka Masala sauce from Maya Kaimal. These shelf-stable sauces come in glass jars and are easy to find, so you can always have them on hand, while the moisture of the sauce will help mask the dry meat. If your meat is too burnt to eat, you can always make a big bowl of pasta sauce and toss it with truffle butter (buy a package and store it in your refrigerator or freezer for crises like these) and shaved Parmigiano for a decadent quick-fix meal.
An Undercooked Roast
Whether you ran out of time, or your oven thermometer failed, with everything going on while you prepare your Christmas meal, it is possible to end up with a whole lot of undercooked meat in front of you. While you could slice the meat, put it on a platter, and then microwave it until it’s cooked properly, there is something about microwaved meat on Christmas that is just… Wrong. Instead, cut up the meat into bite-sized chunks. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat and add some oil. Toss in the cubes of meat and sauté then until cooked through, like a stir-fry. For added flavor, you can also add in sliced garlic, sliced ginger, sliced dried fruits and a splash of wine or sherry, or a bit of cream and shaved cheese.
Forgot a Vegetable Dish
Even if you try to always buy your produce in season, or at your local farmers market, there is nothing wrong with having a couple of boxes of green beans almondine in the freezer. For a last-minute vegetable side dish, all you need to go is place the veggies in a bowl, with a bit of water, pop it in the microwave and cook it until tender. Toss with salt and pepper and top with the little bags of toasted, slivered almonds that are included for a delicious side dish that took little time and effort to assemble.
Didn’t Order the Christmas Dessert
Another mishap that could be quite easy to fix. If you’ve baked Christmas cookies, set out a large platter of treats for people to choose from. Serve the cookies along with coffee, cocoa, or even steamed milk (spike it with some booze for something more festive), and no one will know that the sweet finish to their meal was not planned. For something more special, if you have a couple of pints of ice cream in the freezer, and a bag of sweetened coconut flakes in the pantry, you're in luck. Taking inspiration from these snowballs from St. Clair Ice Cream, simply scoop out balls of ice cream into a bowl filled with the coconut flakes, and cover the balls completely with the coconut. Serve over a puddle of warm chocolate sauce for a fun dessert.