Many people think that gourmet meals are extravagant. The truth is though, you can make a gourmet holiday meal using only a few expensive ingredients. This means you can still wow your guests on a small budget. The key is knowing where to splurge and which items to save on. Best of all, your guests will never realize the gourmet feast you just served them was prepared on such a small budget.
Meats, Glazes and Rubs
During the holiday season, turkeys and hams can be purchased for well under a $1 per pound. This is an extremely economical way to feed your guests. The key to making your meal gourmet though is finding ways to flavor a turkey or ham in nontraditional ways. For example, a smokey barbecue rub on a turkey is unexpected and also allows you to play around with the side dishes. A ham glaze prepared using apple cider or a high dollar brand of cane sugar sweetened root beer adds tremendous flavor while allowing you to stick to a small budget. Remember, the turkey and ham are the star of the holiday meal, take time to play around with different flavors and ingredients until you find a combination that will impress your guests.
One of the easiest ways to wow your guests and stick to a small budget is to go for the unexpected. People expect mashed potatoes, corn and cornbread dressing at a holiday meal. Simply changing the side dishes can make a traditional holiday meal seem gourmet. For example, instead of serving traditional mashed potatoes, why not serve blue cheese and roasted garlic mashed potatoes, which would be the perfect side to roast beef. A turkey dinner can also be jazzed up by making homemade cranberry relish or a apple and cranberry chutney. And, if you want to make a ham dinner more gourmet, try preparing mashed sweet potatoes with maple syrup and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
You have many options when it comes to serving a gourmet dessert. One of the easiest options is to visit a local bakery. Since you were able to save on many of the other items, you can splurge on a store bought dessert. If you prefer to keep your holiday meals homemade, remember the trick mentioned above and go for the unexpected. Instead of serving a plain pumpkin pie, jazz it up with candied pecans and a bourbon flavored whipped cream. An apple pie prepared with cranberries is also a real winner. Another option is to take the flavors from one dessert to create something completely different. For example, instead of a pumpkin pie, why not make a pumpkin cake with cinnamon buttercream frosting? The sky’s the limit and these ideas are budget friendly.
Visit any respectable wine shop and the salesperson will be happy to help you find an inexpensive wine that matches the flavors of your menu. You can find many quality wines for less than $10 a bottle, which allows you to purchase both dinner and dessert wines for a small budget. If you want a less expensive option, many grocery stores now have extensive wine selections for reasonable prices. The only downside is that you need to have knowledge on which wines work best with the foods that you’re serving.