Cling to tradition as we may, many of us have long admitted that ye olde European Christmas Dinner isn’t particularly appealing when the mercury’s above 40. Sensibly, the Aussie Xmas has adapted with its own celebratory cuisine, as fresh-caught seafood, smoky barbecue and crisp salads make their way into the Christmas feast. 

But just because we in Australia have engineered a new style of Christmas cuisine doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our roasted meats and root vegetables. All it takes is a little creative scheduling: Christmas in July.

Apart from serving up the time-honoured meal in suitable weather, Christmas in July lets diners enjoy these dishes as nature intended: with fresh, in-season ingredients.

During the Australian winter, beautiful root vegetables such as parsnip and carrot are ready to eat, citrus fruits including lemons, oranges and mandarins are fresh and juicy, and fennel and cabbage are ripe for refreshing salads.

So we’ve come up with a Christmas feast full of seasonal produce that’s simple to prepare – which is worth celebrating, any time of year.

Mandarin-Glazed Ham (serves 6)

  • 3kg ham
  • 1.25 litres COCA-COLA
  • 8 mandarins
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • cloves
  • cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Prepare the ham by removing the layer of skin on the outside. Make an incision under at the edge of the leg, peel away the skin and set it aside.
  3. Using a short, sharp knife, score the fat in a criss-cross pattern, making diamond shapes over the side of the ham. Make sure you don’t cut the flesh, only the fat.
  4. Press cloves into the incisions at the corners of the diamonds, covering the entire fatty side of the ham.
    To make your mandarin glaze, add the COCA-COLA, vinegar and 4 peeled mandarins to a saucepan on medium heat. Simmer until this mixture reduces to a thick, sticky glaze. Season to taste.
  5. Brush the glaze onto the ham, and place it on a baking tray.
  6. Cut the remaining mandarins in half, dust with cinnamon, and place on the tray next to the ham.
  7. Cook the glazed ham in the oven at 180 degrees for an hour, basting with the remaining glaze after half an hour.
  8. Cover ham with aluminium foil and rest out of the oven before serving.

Crackling

Score the ham lightly with a very sharp knife (a box-cutter will work perfectly). Rub with lemon, salt and oil, and place in a very hot oven (200 degrees) for an hour. Cut with kitchen scissors to serve.

Honey and Rosemary Parsnip and Dutch Carrots

  • 8 small parsnips
  • 1 bunch Dutch carrots
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • Rosemary
  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Remove woody tops of parsnips and trim the carrots’ leaves, keeping the small green shoots.
    Boil a large pot of water and blanch carrots and parsnips, then drain in a colander.
  3. Toss the vegetables with the oil, salt, pepper and honey, scattering fresh rosemary on top.
  4. Cook in oven at 180 degrees for 1 hour, turning every 20 minutes

Red Cabbage and Fennel Slaw

  • Half a red cabbage
  • 1 small fennel bulb
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 4 Spring onions
  • Fresh mint
  • 1 Lemon
  • 1tsp hot sauce
  1. Thinly slice the cabbage, fennel and salad onion on a mandolin.
  2. Combine with fresh mint leaves and stir through mayonnaise, hot sauce and the juice of a lemon.
  3. Serve scattered with more fresh mint.
  4. Serve with a fresh sliced wholemeal cob loaf

Nutritional Profile (per serve)

  • Energy: 3830
  • Protein: 89.7g
  • Total Fat: 29.7g
  • Sat Fat: 7.8g
  • Carbohydrates: 65.6g
  • Sugars: 53.6g
  • Fibre: 12.1g
  • Sodium: 6278mg