It is unbelievable how quickly 2016 has flown by, and the final month of the year is showing no signs of slowing down. In just a couple of weeks it is Christmas; meaning the obligatory 8,000 calorie dinner and a day spent with loved ones while watching the Queen’s annual address and the entire Harry Potter back catalogue. I do love the spirit of Christmas, the spirit of giving, and so I wanted to do something a little special for those closest to me in the run-up to the big day.
Now admittedly I am very time-poor at the best of times and, while I really wanted to reward my family with a handcrafted meal, I just didn’t have enough hours in the day to slave over a hot stove. On top of that, my culinary knowledge isn’t exactly pioneering and my signature dish is a perfectly cooked medium-rare fillet steak. Hardly a Heston Blumenthal, I know, but I was still determined to do something useful in the kitchen for the Christmas season.
While I am a regular online shopper at Tesco, I only recently discovered their premium range of Tesco Finest*; readily available to order online and apparently very easy to cook. Being full of the festive spirit it was a bit of a no-brainer; I could serve up a storm with minimal fuss. The majority of their dishes cook at the same temperature too, which makes the whole process a doddle. The only real pressure being timekeeping, rather than cooking skills. As of writing this up, it was also 3 for 2 on most of the best dishes, making it a very economical choice too.
Delivered to the door within a few days and then smartly arranged on a festive backdrop for the compulsory flatlay, my attention could turn to cooking. Thankfully most of the Tesco Finest* dishes could all be cooked at 180-degrees (fan assisted: very important) and would be ready within just a few minutes of each other. As instructions go, these were fairly straight forward. The only thing simpler to cook, for me at least, would be that medium-rare steak; surely even I couldn’t get this meal wrong. Cue twenty minutes of pre-heating, unboxing and tray-loading. The oven did most of the work and I all I needed to do was keep an eye on that timer.
Before I knew it, the buzzer was going off. With the dishes all served, the prosecco poured, and feeling slightly relaxed and smug at my culinary efforts, it was time to concentrate on what matters at this time of year; food, family and friends. Everyone huddled together over the very popular Camembert sharing bread, discussing what to get each other for Christmas and the typically-British subject of the Arctic-esque weather. The rest of the sharing dishes were equally excellent; full of flavour and gobbled up without a breather. A personal favourite was the mini steak and ale pies which provided bitesize pieces of a perfectly-prepared British classic. For dessert, the steamed puddings went down an absolute treat and, with very full bellies, we moved next door to finish the excellently crisp prosecco by the fire.
While there will never be a substitute for mum’s Christmas dinners, I was genuinely surprised by the quality of the Tesco Finest* range, especially given how easy it was to cook. Preparing food for a larger group of people can be a real pain, especially when different temperatures and timings come into play. These dishes took away any confusion out of that process, leaving me with plenty of time to chat and drink with those that are closest to me. I even had change from £40 with enough to feed and water six fully-grown adults.