Christmas dinner for one on a wooden board

I wrote this post on December 25th 2020. A day when many people were facing Christmas alone, and in a lot of cases, reluctantly. Being an ex-pat in Dubai, I was hoping to travel back to the UK a few days before Christmas, but with the worsening situation in the UK, it was simply an unwise option. I didn’t want to miss out on one of my favourite feasts of the year though – plus cooking provided a great distraction for the day. So meet my ultimate Christmas dinner for one!

Spending Christmas alone, if it’s your personal choice, is great! It’s a day you can carve out for yourself and self indulge. However, for those people who are alone because of circumstance rather than choice, it can feel like one of the hardest things ever. I spent days running up to Christmas feeling pretty sad and utterly disappointed. I’d not seen my family for a whole year! But I realised that I had to get on with things and make the best of an unusual day.

Christmas dinner trimmings for one

I’m going to jump straight into how to plan and make the best solo Christmas dinner ever. If you’d like to read my tips about spending Christmas day alone, which I’ve included after the recipe, then you can jump to that information here!

What’s on the menu?

This really is a Christmas dinner for kings (or queens!) Yet it uses only 1 baking tray/sheet, 1 baking dish and a couple of pans. I also outline the things that can be done the day before so that you can maximise your TV binge-watching, sleeping, pampering or whatever else you have on the agenda for the day.

This Christmas dinner for one includes:

  • Roast Chicken – you can certainly do a full turkey if you are happy to eat leftovers for several days. Or you can get a turkey crown, although personally, I would miss the brown meat!
  • Gravy – made from the bird juices
  • Roast potatoes – made super crispy!
  • Roasted sprouts
  • Roasted parsnips
  • Roasted carrots
  • Bread sauce – I absolutely could not miss out on the one day a year that I get to indulge in bread sauce, but skip it if it’s not your thing.
  • Sage & onion stuffing

I didn’t have any pigs in blankets which was a bit of a shame – I simply couldn’t find any here in Dubai, nor the right sausages to make any with. Definitely make some if you can!

For anyone cooking such a feast on their own, a few ‘cheat’ dishes are 100% acceptable. For me, I bought ready-made cranberry sauce. But if you feel like buying ready-done stuffing or frozen veg then do what makes you feel best! This is your day.

For the full ingredients with weights/measurements jump to the printable recipe card

Starter Options

While I don’t include a starter in this post, I can certainly give you a few great recipes which would make a perfect Christmas day starter:

Below, clockwise from top left:

Christmas dinner for one starters

For the bread sauce (can be made the day before)

For the stuffing (can be made the day before)

Sage and onion stuffing ingredients

For the chicken and veg:

(you’ll also need a couple of teaspoons of flour) and a cup of chicken stock to make the gravy…)

Christmas dinner for one ingredients

How to make it including timings

Here is the full rundown including timings on how to make the ultimate Christmas dinner for one. The timings are based on eating at 1pm, so adjust according to your preferred time.

I’ve also outlined what can be made the day before, but you can get up earlier to make all this on the day if you don’t have time in advance or you could eat later.

The day before

Bread sauce

Cut the onion in half across the fat part of the onion. Stud with the cloves. Place in a small saucepan with the milk, peppercorns and bay leaf and place over high heat. Heat until it almost starts to boil and then remove from the heat. Cover with a lid and place in a warm place (on the top of a radiator is a good place). Leave to infuse for at least two hours.

Make the breadcrumbs by removing the crusts from the bread and using an immersion blender or mixer.

Once the milk has infused remove the onion, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf and place over a medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and heat slowly until the breadcrumbs have swollen and the sauce has thickened. Add half the butter and continue to heat, stirring often, until it has fully incorporated into the mixture.

Now place the sauce into a bowl and cover and leave in the fridge until around half an hour before you want to serve it.

Recipe steps 1-3 - stud the onion, simmer in milk, make the breadcrumbs and mix

Stuffing

Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot add the onions and sauté for around 4-5 minutes until softened.

If you are making the stuffing more than a few hours ahead then let the onion fully cool before the next step.

Add the onion into a large bowl with the sausage meat, chopped sage, garlic, oregano, baking powder, flour and breadcrumbs. Season well.

Mix everything together until evenly combined. It’s easiest to use your hands. Then roll the mixture into large bowls and place in a bowl and cover. Refrigerate until you are ready to cook.

Stuffing Recipe steps

On the day

10:30am

Prepare the chicken so you can get it in the oven for 11am. Given that it’s Christmas, I’m preparing the chicken in an extra-special way, with butter and streaky bacon. This gives super moist meat as the bacon fats help to baste the chicken as it cooks. Plus some crispy bacon is always a bonus on the side of the plate!

First rub the butter all over the chicken, including around the legs. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the pieces of streaky bacon on top of the bird so they don’t overlap.

Next make a trivet in the bottom of the baking dish. This stops the chicken touching the bottom of the dish which helps it cook underneath properly. Slice the onion into 6ths and slice the lemon into quarters. Break apart half the bulb of garlic (no need to peel) and toss it all into the dish along with half the rosemary. Place the turkey on top and cover well with foil.

At 11am place in the oven and set the timer for 1 hour.

While you are waiting prepare the veg:

  • Peel and wash the parsnips and cut in half across the middle. If any of the pieces are very thick then cut in half lengthways
  • Cut the bottom off the sprouts and remove the outer leaves and wash. You really don’t need to cross them – check out my sprout experiment
  • Peel the potatoes and cut in half and place in a large bowl of cold water until needed
  • Peel and wash the carrots and cut into thick pieces (if you are using baby carrots or heirloom then you can just cook them whole and you don’t need to peel)
Preparing the turkey

12pm

Remove the foil from over the chicken and remove the bacon to allow the skin to crisp up (keep the foil for later – don’t throw it out). You can place the bacon on another tray and leave it in the oven if you want it extra crisp to eat with the dinner!

Place the potatoes in a large pan of cold water and season well with salt. Place over a high heat and then cook for 10 minutes from when the water starts to boil. Add the parsnips to the boiling water for the final 3-4 minutes.

Carefully remove the parsnips from the water with tongs and tip the potatoes into a sieve or colander and leave to steam for around 5 minutes.

Once steamed, place the potatoes back into the pan and place on the lid. Shake the pan vigorously for 10-20 seconds until the edges of the potatoes are roughed up (but the potatoes haven’t fallen apart).

12:20pm

Place the baking tray over medium-high heat on the hob to heat it up. Add the olive oil, remaining garlic cloves (again no need to peel) and the remaining rosemary. Once the oil is steaming carefully tip the potatoes onto the tray. Shake to combine and then push them to one side. Next, add the parsnips to the tray and the stuffing balls and then place it in the oven for 40 minutes.

Preparing the veg, potatoes and gravy

12:30pm

Remove the chicken from the oven, place on a chopping board and cover with the foil and then place a tea towel over the top. Leave to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

Remove all the big pieces from the baking tray that the chicken was in and tip the tray so the juices run to one side. Use a spoon to skim all but 1 tbsp of the fat from the top of the juices. You should be able to see the fat floating on the top of the liquid left.

Scatter the flour over the top and place over medium-high heat and mix everything together with a spatula until the flour is combined with the juices.

Add the stock to the pan and use a whisk to constantly stir. Reduce the heat to medium and leave the gravy simmering for around 10 minutes, until thickened to the consistency you like.

12:45pm

Add the sprouts to the tray along with the potatoes, stuffing and parsnips for the final 15 minutes.

Place the bread sauce into a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until warmed through and then stir in the remaining half of the butter and cream.

1pm

Serve exactly as you wish – it’s your day. Pile everything onto a place, drown everything in gravy, or pick the chicken carcass apart in front of the TV!

Christmas dinner for one on a plate
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Christmas dinner for one on a wooden board

Christmas Dinner for One


  • Author: caroline
  • Prep Time: 3 hours
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: 1 1x

Description

Spending Christmas alone? That doesn’t mean that you can’t indulge! Check out the ultimate Christmas Dinner for One! 


Scale

Ingredients

For the bread sauce (can be made the day before) – makes enough for plenty of leftovers!

  • 1 large brown onion
  • 16 cloves
  • 8 black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 500ml (2 cups) full-fat milk
  • 100g / 3.5oz white breadcrumbs (for this you’ll need around 5 slices of bread – ideally stale, but you can use fresh if that’s all you have – see instructions below)
  • 50g / 1.75oz / 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp double or whipping cream

For the stuffing (can be made the day before) – makes 2 stuffing balls

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 onion, peeled and diced
  • 10g breadcrumbs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 2 sprigs fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp plain flour
  • 75g sausagemeat

For the chicken and veg:

  • 1 chicken – size dependent on how many leftovers you want!
  • 1/2 lemon (if you are happy with a little lemon flavour to the gravy – if not then leave it out)
  • 4 slices of streaky bacon
  • 300g potatoes, peeled and halved
  • 100g carrots – if you use heirloom or baby carrots then you don’t really need to peel them, thus reducing some of the work – if not then peel and cut into thick pieces
  • 150g sprouts, washed and outer leaves removed and cut in half
  • 300g parsnips, peeled and halved
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 250ml / 1 cup chicken stock

Instructions

The day before

Bread sauce

  • Cut the onion in half across the fat part of the onion. Stud with the cloves. Place in a small saucepan with the milk, peppercorns and bay leaf and place over high heat. Heat until it almost starts to boil and then remove from the heat. Cover with a lid and place in a warm place (on the top of a radiator is a good place). Leave to infuse for at least two hours.
  • Make the breadcrumbs by removing the crusts from the bread and using an immersion blender or mixer.
  • Once the milk has infused remove the onion, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf and place over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and heat slowly until the breadcrumbs have swollen and the sauce has thickened. Add half the butter and continue to heat, stirring often, until it has fully incorporated into the mixture.
  • Now place the sauce into a bowl and cover and leave in the fridge until around half an hour before you want to serve it.

Stuffing

  • Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot add the onions and sauté for around 4-5 minutes until softened.
  • If you are making the stuffing more than a few hours ahead then let the onion fully cool before the next step.
  • Add the onion into a large bowl with the sausage meat, chopped sage, garlic, oregano, baking powder, flour and breadcrumbs. Season well.
  • Mix everything together until evenly combined. It’s easiest to use your hands. Then roll the mixture into large bowls and place in a bowl and cover. Refrigerate until you are ready to cook.

On the day

10:30am

  • Prepare the chicken so you can get it in the oven for 11am. Given that it’s Christmas, I’m preparing the chicken in an extra-special way, with butter and streaky bacon. This gives super moist meat as the bacon fats help to baste the chicken as it cooks. Plus some crispy bacon is always a bonus on the side of the plate!
  • First rub the butter all over the chicken, including around the legs. Season with salt and pepper. Lay the pieces of streaky bacon on top of the bird so they don’t overlap.
  • Next make a trivet in the bottom of the baking dish. This stops the chicken touching the bottom of the dish which helps it cook underneath properly. Slice the onion into 6ths and slice the lemon into quarters. Break apart half the bulb of garlic (no need to peel) and toss it all into the dish along with half the rosemary. Place the turkey on top and cover well with foil.
  • At 11am place in the oven and set the timer for 1 hour
  • While you are waiting prepare the veg:
    • Peel and wash the parsnips and cut in half across the middle. If any of the pieces are very thick then cut in half lengthways
    • Cut the bottom off the sprouts and remove the outer leaves and wash. You really don’t need to cross them – check out my sprout experiment
    • Peel the potatoes and cut in half and place in a large bowl of cold water until needed
    • Peel and wash the carrots and cut into thick pieces (if you are using baby carrots or heirloom then you can just cook them whole and you don’t need to peel)

12pm

  • Remove the foil from over the chicken and remove the bacon to allow the skin to crisp up (keep the foil for later – don’t throw it out). You can place the bacon on another tray and leave it in the oven if you want it extra crisp to eat with the dinner!
  • Place the potatoes in a large pan of cold water and season well with salt. Place over a high heat and then cook for 10 minutes from when the water starts to boil. Add the parsnips to the boiling water for the final 3-4 minutes.
  • Carefully remove the parsnips from the water with tongs and tip the potatoes into a sieve or colander and leave to steam for around 5 minutes.
  • Once steamed, place the potatoes back into the pan and place on the lid. Shake the pan vigorously for 10-20 seconds until the edges of the potatoes are roughed up (but the potatoes haven’t fallen apart).

12:20pm

  • Place the baking tray over medium-high heat on the hob to heat it up. Add the olive oil, remaining garlic cloves (again no need to peel) and the remaining rosemary. Once the oil is steaming carefully tip the potatoes onto the tray. Shake to combine and then push them to one side. Next, add the parsnips to the tray and the stuffing balls and then place it in the oven for 40 minutes.

12:30pm

  • Remove the chicken from the oven, place on a chopping board and cover with the foil and then place a tea towel over the top. Leave to rest for 30 minutes before carving.
  • Remove all the big pieces from the baking tray that the chicken was in and tip the tray so the juices run to one side. Use a spoon to skim all but 1 tbsp of the fat from the top of the juices. You should be able to see the fat floating on the top of the liquid left.
  • Scatter the flour over the top and place over medium-high heat and mix everything together with a spatula until the flour is combined with the juices.
  • Add the stock to the pan and use a whisk to constantly stir. Reduce the heat to medium and leave the gravy simmering for around 10 minutes, until thickened to the consistency you like.

12:45pm

  • Add the sprouts to the tray along with the potatoes, stuffing and parsnips for the final 15 minutes.
  • Place the bread sauce into a small saucepan over medium heat. Heat until warmed through and then stir in the remaining half of the butter and cream.

1pm

  • Serve exactly as you wish – it’s your day. Pile everything onto a place, drown everything in gravy, or pick the chicken carcass apart in front of the TV!


Notes

  1. I totally guessed the nutritional information for this recipe as it completely depends on how much of the chicken you eat, how much you leave for leftovers if you include the bacon etc. Also, who really cares about counting calories on Christmas day?
  2. The veg and potato quantities listed make a very generous portion for one meal but if you want leftovers you may want to increase the amounts.
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Hob / Oven
  • Cuisine: British

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 1000
  • Fat: 30g
  • Carbohydrates: 30g
  • Protein: 30g

Keywords: christmas dinner, festive, for one, single portion, chicken, stuffing, bread sauce, veg, roast potatoes

Tips for spending Christmas day alone

1. Plan your day in advance

By making a plan for the day you will feel in control and occupied. And that plan can include anything you want it to. Plan a load of back to back movies, schedule some time to go for a walk, decide what you will cook and when. If you get up on the day and leave things to chance then you’ve more chance of feeling at a loose end and moping around.

Perhaps there is a project you’ve always wanted to find the time to do, or a new hobby you want to give a go. This is the perfect opportunity to make space for something you’ve always wanted to do. This blog post ended up being my project for the day. However, it’s also perfectly acceptable if you want to spend the day watching box sets and eating chocolate – as long as you’ve made the conscious decision about what you want to do.

2. Treat yourself

I hate to say this, as it probably sounds very materialistic, but this was probably what made the biggest difference for me on my Christmas day alone. Last-minute plan alterations and being in a different country from my family meant no gifts under my tree (and I hadn’t even bothered putting up a tree in the first place!) I decided that I was going to really push the boat out and treat myself to a gift that I’d wanted for the longest time. For me, that was a shiny new camera.

I bought it, wrapped it and placed it where I could see it in my living room a couple of days before. Having something to really look forward to opening actually made me kind of excited about Christmas morning, instead of dreading it.

Christmas present to myself - new camera

Treating yourself doesn’t have to mean spending money. You can plan an afternoon of pampering with a super-indulgent bubble bath and face mask or eating all your favourite foods.

3. Listen to uplifting music

I’d rather be a comma, than a full stop

– Coldplay, Every Teardrop is a Waterfall

I couldn’t really bring myself to listen to all the usual Christmas music this year. Lyrics about driving home for Christmas and seeing all ‘those faces’, or crowing about jack frost nipping at your toes just didn’t seem appropriate when spending a day alone in the desert.

I decided to have a ‘song of the day’ – one which was positive, lively and made me feel good. At times like this, the only way is Coldplay.

I hope that if you are spending Christmas day alone that this may in some small way help you. I’d also love to hear any tips you have about facing the holidays alone.

Remember, you are awesome and one day out of the whole year, or your whole life, makes very little difference in the long run.

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