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Throw a party to remember that won't break the bank

Any of the recipes from the last two days are good enough for your flatmates or to serve to a classmate -- but every now and then you are going to want to produce something a little more spectacular, whether to impress your mum and dad or for that incredibly hot girl/boy who unexpectedly agreed to come for dinner.

Caesar salad is easy and tasty, roast chicken is the ultimate comfort food and everybody likes pancakes and chocolate. If your date is vegetarian, stick with something safe like pasta for the main course and wow them with the starter (without the anchovies) and dessert. Portions are for six people, halve the quantities if cooking for two.

Beer can chicken (serves six) This is the classic American college student recipe. Cooking the chicken standing up on a half-full beer can like this ensures a crispy skin with a moist interior. Price variation depends on the quality of chicken you buy. If you are nervous about cooking a chicken standing up (it can fall over) follow the recipe but omit placing the can inside the chicken and roast it on its back as normal. Boiled carrots and frozen peas will add colour and make this seem like a feast.

Ingredients: 1 large chicken €5-7, 50g softened butter, lemon €0.10, salt and pepper, chopped herbs, 1 garlic clove €0.05, 1 can of beer €1.10.

Total Cost: Approx: €6.25-8.25

Pre-heat the oven to 190°C. Remove the chicken from its packaging, including the elastic string. Rub the chicken all over with soft butter, squeeze on the lemon and season with salt, pepper and herbs, pushing them into the butter. Place the garlic clove and lemon inside the chicken.

Open the can of beer and drink one third of it. Pour a little less than a third into a roasting tin and stand the can in the tin.

Open the legs of the chicken out and carefully place it on top of the can so it is standing up with the can inside the body. Carefully place the chicken in the pre-heated oven and roast for approx 1 hour and 25 minutes (larger chickens take a bit longer).

Carefully remove the chicken from the oven holding it upright with a tea-towel or oven glove.

Test the chicken is cooked by cutting between the breast and leg -- the juices should run clear. If the juices are still pink, roast for a further 15 minutes and check again.

When you are sure the chicken is cooked, carefully remove the can, place the chicken on a plate and cover loosely with tin foil, rest for 15 minutes then serve.

Pour the juices from the roasting tin into a jug and allow the fat to rise to the top. Spoon off the fat adding one tablespoon to the roasting dish and discard the rest. Heat the fat in the roasting tin, add a tablespoon of flour and stir for a minute. Slowly add the juices from the chicken and the beer that is left in the can and some reserved carrot or potato water, st irring until you have a thick gravy.

Roast potatoes (serves six)

Ingredients: 1kg potatoes €1.15, 50g butter, €0.15, 1bsp oil and 1tsp salt.

Total Cost: Approx: €1.30

Peel the potatoes, chop into golf-ball sized chunks and place in a saucepan of cold water. Bring the water to a boil and cook for 5-7 minutes, drain and keep the water for the gravy or any extra vegetables you are cooking. Place the lid on the saucepan (or use a plate) and shake 5-6 times to bruise the potatoes. Heat the oil and butter in a pan (or use the roasting tin), add the bruised potatoes and sprinkle with salt. Fully coat the potatoes in fat and place in the hot oven for 45-60 minutes until crispy.

Dauphinoise potatoes (serves six)

Ingredients: 1kg potatoes, €1.15, 50g butter, €0.15, 2 peeled garlic cloves, (lightly crushed) €0.10, 250ml milk, €0.25, salt and pepper, 250ml cream, €1.11.

Total Cost: Approx: €2.76

Heat the oven to 200°C. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Rub the butter around an oven-proof dish and carefully add the potatoes in overlapping slices.

Heat the garlic, milk salt and pepper in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Once the first bubbles appear pour the milk and garlic over the potatoes and place the dish in a hot oven (200°C) for 25 minutes. Using the same saucepan, bring the cream to a boil, pour onto the potatoes and cook for a further 20 minutes until the top is browned.

Pancakes (serves six)

Ingredients: 2 eggs, €0.60, 250g flour, €0.15, 450ml milk, €0.50, 50g butter, €0.15.

Total Cost: Approx: €1.25

Break the eggs into a bowl and whisk in the milk. Gradually add the flour, whisking all the time until you have a thick batter. Ideally, leave the batter to prove for an hour.

Heat a pan and add a small dab of butter until sizzling. Add a ladleful of pancake mix to the pan and cook on both sides for approx one minute. Keep the pan hot and add a small dab of butter for each pancake.

Mars bar sauce (serves one-two)

Ingredients: Mars bar, €0.90, milk €0.05.

Total Cost: Approx: €0.95

Chop a Mars bar (or any chocolate toffee bar) into small pieces and place in a saucepan.

Add a little milk and heat, stirring all the time, until melted. Then simply pour over your dessert.


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