Roast chicken is already delectable as it is, so how do you improve on perfection? With stuffing, of course.
Prepare the bird in the usual way. Fry off two minced garlic cloves, diced onion and a couple of chopped bacon rashers in a very generous knob of butter — go on, nobody’s watching. Combine with fresh white breadcrumbs, enough milk to bind, and a smattering of tarragon or sage. Dry herbs are fine. Add a little salt and pepper. Stuff cavity. Roast, serve, devour.
2.Chocolate pudding (world’s simplest version)
Chocolate pudding: the real way to win friends and influence people. And the perfect vehicle for an excess of whipped cream and vanilla ice cream.
Combine 1 cup self-raising flour, 1/2 cup of caster sugar, 2tbs cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of milk, 50g melted butter and one egg in a bowl, stir with wooden spoon and pour into buttered baking dish. Mix a cup of boiling water with 3/4 cup of brown sugar and a tablespoon of cocoa and pour over batter. Bake at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes, you want the bottom to remain gooey. Presto — chocolate pudding AND sauce in one dish. Too easy. Plan a long, vigorous walk the following day, as you will certainly have seconds. And thirds.
3. Bangers and mash. And gravy.
No recipe required, brilliant on a cold night. Try rosemary and lamb sausages or chicken, feta and basil for something a bit different. Don’t forget to drown everything in gravy.
4. Shepherds pie
An English classic that dates back to the 18th century, shepherds pie (if you use beef, it’s cottage pie) is the ideal winter warmer.
Fry garlic, onion, carrot and celery until soft. Brown the lamb mince and season to taste. Add half a cup of corn kernels and peas now, if you like. Put mixture in baking dish, top with mashed potato. If you're feeling frisky, rake the potato into peaks with a fork. Dot with knobs of butter and bake until mash turns golden.
5. Mulled wine
Not strictly a meal (or is it?), but definitely a winter crowd-pleaser.
There are countless variations on this, but you can’t go wrong with the peel of an orange (avoid the white pith) and a splash of its juice, 4 cinnamon sticks, 8 cloves, a few slices of ginger, brown sugar and a few cups of water to taste. (Water cuts the acidity of the wine, and makes it go a lot further if you’re serving an army.) Don’t boil the wine, or you’ll cook off the alcohol. And what would be the point of that? Serve in fancy coffee cups to guests seated in Chesterfield armchairs by the fire. (Or, the couch will do nicely.)
If none of these get you going, try buttery baked potatoes, home-made mac and cheese, hot chocolate, slow-cooked Irish stew or delicious lasagne laced with béchamel.