For any cook it can be a daunting task. Especially if undertaken solo. There is so much that can go wrong. Timing, skill, luck… it all comes into play.
This year why not try something easier? An easier main dish that requires almost no babysitting. Allow yourself one or two complicated sides and leave the rest simple and delicious. Your Christmas dinner menu will come together beautifully. My only advice? Ask someone else to bring dessert or buy it at your favorite bakery.
My husband’s favorite food is ham. Happiness for him is walking into a house and smelling the smoky, sweet smell that only a ham has. His mother used to always serve a spiral sliced ham during holiday open houses. Where he grew up in New Jersey there was even a store devoted entirely to selling spiral sliced hams. Spiral sliced hams are wonderful. They are fully cooked and sliced. All that is needed is to heat them up and then add a little extra flavor with a glaze.
For a busy family wanting to slow down and enjoy the holidays, hams are a perfect main course to celebrate Christmas or any mid-winter feast. Plus, they leave you with a lot of leftovers that are delicious in many dishes.
Here is my menu for a Christmas Day feast featuring ham. I wish you a Merry Christmas and happy eating!
Ham Christmas Dinner Menu:
Orange and Rosemary Glazed Ham
Parsnip and Potato Gratin
Roasted Carrots with Spices
Parker House Rolls
Orange Marmalade and Rosemary Glazed Ham
The tang of the marmalade really complements the ham and the rosemary gives it that warmth that always makes me think of Christmas. For an even more festive ham you can substitute cranberry jam for the marmalade. For me ham wouldn’t be ham without marmalade on it. That’s how my mother always made it when I was growing up.
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup grapefruit juice
2 Tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3 to 5kg spiral sliced ham/or regular smoked ham
Preheat the oven to 275F. Remove the ham from all of its packaging and place it in a large roasting tray. Make sure the largest exposed area of the ham is facing down the joint is facing up. Pour over half of the glaze (instructions below) and cover with foil. Place in the preheated oven and roast for 1 hour and then baste with juices and add more glaze. Uncover and continue to bake until heated through (give yourself about 20 minutes a pound/35 minutes a kg) to fully heat the ham. For the last 20 minutes raise the oven temperature to 425F. This will help the glaze set. Then place under the broiler for a few minutes until the glaze is glistening and dark brown and caramelized. Let rest for 20 minutes and then serve.
In medium sauce pan whisk together brown sugar, mustard, marmalade, grapefruit juice, rosemary, and salt. Bring to boil over medium heat; reduce to low and simmer 6-8 minutes, stirring often so it does not stick. It should be sticky and thick.
Now the sides…
Parsnip Gratin with Gruyere and Thyme
The best part about this particular side dish is that you can make it the day ahead. Assemble it and par cook it – that is cook it about halfway – and then the day of you only need to take it out of the fridge and pop it back into the oven with the ham.
Potato gratin dishes are a traditional side with ham. This dish takes a spin on those potatoes by adding delicious, nutty parsnips. The end result is a creamy wonderfully comforting dish. A note: I often use weight measurements in recipes when it comes to butter. I find it much more accurate than just staring at the big block of stuff and cutting off a portion. The recipe calls for Gruyere cheese which is delicious, but also can be pricy. You can substitute Swiss cheese for a cheaper option.
1 lb Parsnips, peeled and sliced thin (about 1/8 inch)
1 lb potatoes, peeled and sliced thin (about 1/8 inch)
1 med onion
2 large minced cloves garlic
42 grams butter + 4 grams butter
1 Tbsp flour
3 cups heavy whipping cream – warmed in the microwave or the stove.
1/4 tsp fresh nutmeg ( or ground)
1/4 tsp white pepper
1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 T Fresh Thyme
6 ounces, grated gruyere cheese, plus extra for top.
Preheat oven to 400 F
Peel and slice the potatoes and the parsnips. Slice them about 1/8 inch thin, or as thin as you can get them. The thinner the slices the better.
Thinly slice the onion. In a medium sized frying pan melt the 4 grams of butter on medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until they are soft but not colored. Add the garlic and cook for one minute more. Watch carefully so that it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat.
In the frying pan melt 42 grams of butter until it just starts to foam. Sprinkle in the flour and stir until it is a light toast color and smells sweet. Slowly whisk in the warmed cream and cook until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Remove from heat and add the nutmeg, pepper, salt, and thyme. Then stir in the cheese.
Grease a 9×13 inch baking dish with butter. Layer the parsnips and potatoes in a single layer, add 1/3 of the onion mixture, then ladle a third of the cheese sauce over top. Repeat the layers twice more. Top the dish with extra grated cheese.
If you are cooking it the same day cover with foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove foil and check with a fork that the vegetables are tender. Then put under the broiler to make the top brown and crispy. Let sit for 15 minutes then serve. If you are cooking it the next day cover the top with foil and bake for 20 minutes in the oven. The next day take it out of the fridge and keep it covered. Then put it in the 275F oven with the ham for about 20 minutes. When you raise the oven temperature on the ham take the foil off and continue to cook until hot and bubbly. If you like it even browner on top put it under the broiler for a couple of minutes.
Parker House Rolls
Rumor has it Parker House Rolls were invented in Boston in the 1870s when an impatient cook put unfinished rolls into the oven. The result were these soft little pillows. Making your own rolls is easy, though a little time consuming. Do not make these the day ahead though. Nothing compares to fresh bread, especially a warm, buttery roll.
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup warm milk
1 Tbsp active dry yeast
7 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
56 grams butter, melted and cooled + 30 grams of butter, melted.
4 – 5 cups sifted all purpose flour
Put warm water in a measuring cup. Add 1 tsp sugar and yeast. Let the yeast sit 7 minutes until it is foamy.
Mix yeast mixture, milk, salt, 56 grams of melted butter and remaining sugar in a mixing bowl. Add 4 cups of flour and mix until the dough starts to come together. Add more flour if necessary. The dough should be slightly sticky but elastic.
Knead the dough by hand for 8 to 10 minutes, or about 4 minutes with a stand mixer.
Shape the dough into a smooth ball and place back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot and let it rise until doubled in size or about an hour. Punch the dough down and roll it out to 3/4 inch in thickness.
Cut into 3″ circle. (I just used the top of a glass cup to do this. You could also use a round cookie cutter.)
Dip the dough circles into the 30 grams of melted butter. Score the rolls slightly off centre with the back of a knife and then fold them over into a half-moon shape. Place the half-moons about an inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment and let rise for 30 minutes.
Bake at 425 degrees for 10-14 minutes or until golden. Remove from the oven and brush the tops with more melted butter and serve right away.
Roasted Carrots with Spices and Pomegranate
This is another recipe you can do mostly ahead of time. I do all the prep ahead of time; cut the carrots, mix up the spice mixture, and prep the pomegranate. Then all I do is assemble it and pop it into the oven. Use organic carrots for this recipe and just wash them well instead of peeling them. Cut off the carrot tops but leave about an inch of the tops to add a pretty touch to the dish. If you do not have dried marjoram on hand use dried oregano instead. Pomegranate are a traditional symbol for the Christmas season and their tartness adds to the flavor of this dish. Don’t skip them.
8 large organic carrots with tops
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp marjoram
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
3 Tbsp pomegranate seeds
Preheat oven to 425F.
Wash the carrots and cut off the carrot tops leaving about an inch. Cut each carrot in half lengthwise and place cut side down on a cookie sheet.
In a measuring cup whisk together the oil, marjoram, paprika, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Pour over the carrots.
Place in the preheated oven and roast until golden but still crisp. About 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and place in the serving dish. Sprinkle the pomegranate seeds over the top.
Green Beans with Lemon and Butter
I love green beans. They are perfect with ham, especially cooked this way. They remain crisp and fresh. This side dish is very simple and most of the prep can be done the day ahead. You can even blanch the beans and keep them in the fridge and cook them in the frying pan the next day.
1 1/2 lbs green beans, trimmed.
Salt and pepper
28 grams of butter
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
Fill a large pot with water and add a generous pinch of salt to the water. Bring to a boil. Put the beans in the water and cook for about 4 minutes. The beans should be bright green but still crisp.
Drain the beans and run them under cold water to cool them.
In a frying pan melt the butter and add the beans. Fry quickly adding salt and pepper to taste. As the beans begin to color add the zest of the lemon and the juice. Quickly stir until heated through and then serve.
There you have it! What do you enjoy most about Christmas Dinner? Are you a Ham or Turkey lover? Or do you skip it all and make your own unique meal? If you decide to try one or more of these recipes we would love your feedback in a comment below!