Every family dream of the perfect Christmas dinner but it can be such a stressful and daunting task. Whether you’re planning to cook for two or being a little more audacious/crazy and making dinner for twenty, preparation and planning is key, and if one task isn’t finished on time it can throw the whole schedule off course. So, let us go through the best tips and schedule how to prepare and enjoy the perfect Christmas dinner.
Christmas Excitement in the Kitchen
With all the excitement of opening presents and enjoying a glass or two of wine before you start cooking, it is easier to start preparation on Christmas Eve. Start with planning on the time you want to eat and then ensure you know how big your turkey is.
The size of your turkey will determine how long it needs to cook for, but then you need to add another 45 minutes to allow it to rest and then subtract this time from the set time you plan to eat. Knowing this, allow you to work out when you will need to start putting the turkey in – Christmas dinner rises and falls on the turkey quality. Don’t forget to put the oven on for about an hour before you start cooking the meat.
Having A Few Drinks? Prep Before
If Christmas Day involves a few drinks then start preparing the vegetables on Christmas Eve. Peel, trim and slice all the carrots, parsnips, potatoes and sprouts and then put into Tupperware bowls and then placed in the fridge for the following day. Onions can be peeled and sliced, sausages can be wrapped in bacon and bread can be crumbled to make bread sauce. It’s just that easy!
The food will be absolutely fine for the next day. In addition to saving much valuable time, it gives you the opportunity to see if you have overlooked something and to ensure you have enough for everyone. If not, then a quick last minute dash to the supermarket is on the menu.
The last thing to do before you head up to bed is to take the turkey out of the fridge as the meat is best cooked when it has been at room temperature – this helps with flavour. Ensure that there are no restraining apparatuses such as string or rubber bands. If you like your bird to be salted then this is the best time to do it. Cover the turkey with a nice clean tea-towel and ensure that no cats or dogs can get to it. If it is possible, you can store it in one of the kitchen cabinets.
Christmas morning- Open those Kitchen Cabinets and Get Cooking
Before you start breakfast and the urge to unwrap presents overwhelms you, get into the kitchen and turn the oven up high. It typically takes about an hour to get to the right temperature, allowing you enough time to prepare and enjoy your breakfast.
Before putting the turkey in, remove the wishbone. This can be done with a sharp knife and allows an easier time carving the bird after it’s been cooked. Take your butter, pepper and any other seasonings you wish to use and smother the meat with it. Onions can be placed whole inside, as well as beneath the skin on the sides, as the juices can be used to add to the gravy later on.
While the turkey is cooking
Once the turkey is cooking nicely in the oven you can make a start on the vegetables. Boil carrots and sprouts until they almost cooked, take them off and place them in cold water. This allows you to gently heat them up five minutes before you dish them up and have them perfectly cooked. Peel and parboil the potatoes, drain and then place in cold water for later.
Whilst these vegetables are cooking, you can prepare all the little luxuries that make the perfect sumptuous Christmas dinner (the ones you’ll regret later). Go to the kitchen cabinets and get out what you need to start on the stuffing (if you didn’t stuff it inside the turkey), make the bread sauce, the cranberry sauce and mint sauce if your guests desire them.
Thirty minutes before the turkey is due to be taken out, take a metal pan and pop it into the oven ready for the roast potatoes.
While the turkey is resting
Once the turkey is out of the oven, take it out of its roasting tray and pop it onto a warmed dish. As the vegetables just need to be gently heated up, you can cook the potatoes and parsnips in relative ease. Take out the potato tray heating up in the oven and transfer the already parboiled potatoes into it. Some like plain oil to be drizzled over their potatoes whilst others prefer goose or duck fat. This recipe is great for roast tatties. Some salt, pepper or other seasonings can be thrown on top. Place in oven and within an hour they will be nice and crispy on the outside but fluffy inside. Perfect!
If you want to make your own gravy then you can use the juices from the turkey. Simply heat the pan up to boil and then add in flour and stock. Squash the onions down as far as they will go and then sieve the mixture into a jug ready to be poured over the meal.
The perfect Christmas dinner is something that is often dreaded by the main family cook as it can be a daunting task to bring all the ingredients together. However, by wisely planning and preparing, you can avoid all the stress – unless you are planning on putting in a new kitchen before Christmas!