With Christmas day looming, for many of us, it’s time to turn our thoughts to cooking and preparing the Christmas dinner. For those who have a small kitchen, this may be about the time that panic starts to set in. Will everything fit? How can I make sure everything’s ready on time? Should I have not invited those extra guests?
Whether your cooking Christmas dinner for two or for twenty, the key is to plan ahead. This will avoid turkey-related tears on the day. So with that in mind, we bring you our top tips for cooking Christmas dinner in a small kitchen.
Cooking Christmas Dinner with a single oven
Let’s be honest – your Christmas meal is, in essence, a roast dinner (albeit a particularly special one). And the clue’s in the title – roasting means putting a lot of things in an oven, and if yours is a small single one, you may be worried about how to fit everything in, and still make sure you have piping hot food on the table.
The key is to remember that not everything has to be in at the same time. Remember your turkey should be left to rest, so get that cooked first and then leave to rest covered in foil while you put your potatoes and other veg in the oven.
If you’ve got a lot of vegetables going on – think about whether they need to be roasted, or consider if you can make more use of your hob, and, dare we say it, microwave.
You’ve awoken on Christmas morning, got into your kitchen to start cooking, and… the turkey doesn’t fit in your oven. First of all – don’t panic – this is a more common issue that you might think, and can be solved, like many problems, by breaking it down (literally).
If your turkey doesn’t fit in your oven, start off by cutting off the legs using a sharp knife. To do this, find the point at which the legs meet the body and cut through the skin. You can then just pull the legs away and just cut between the joint. Then cook the legs separately. This is actually a technique employed by many chefs, as it allows the turkey meat to cook more evenly, giving you perfectly cooked turkey meat.
What parts of Christmas dinner can be prepared ahead?
Almost every element of your Christmas dinner can be pre-prepared, and as long as you have room in your fridge or freezer, getting ahead can really take the stress out of the day itself.
Consider this – if you can buy an item frozen or pre-packaged in a supermarket – you can also do so at home.
Get your roast potatoes pre-prepared by parboiling for around 6-8 minutes. Drain and allow to steam dry for a few minutes. The key to getting them really crisp is to “ruffle up” the edges, so put them in a colander and give them a good old shake. Add seasoning and a little flour and lay out on a tray and leave to cool. These can then be frozen, ready to be roasted on the day itself – no need to defrost! After all, who wants to be peeling potatoes on the day?
When it comes to cooking Christmas dinner – timing is everything! So don’t leave your timings to chance. Put pen to paper and make a plan, complete with what time you do to take each step.
Start with your desired serving time – so if you want to be dishing up dinner at 3pm (just in time for the Queen’s speech), start there and work your way backwards. While you can find a wealth of Christmas dinner plans online, if you have a small kitchen you may need to make further amendments, to allow for the space you have.
Make space for the extra food
For many of those who are limited when it comes to kitchen space, one concern starts well before the day… “where on earth can I store all that food”? And it’s not just your Christmas dinner items. These days, we end up with kitchen cupboards full of festive treats!
If you’re limited with storage space in your kitchen, consider whether you can clear away certain items elsewhere. For example, that set of plates that you never use? Could they be relocated to a living room cupboard for a short while? If you have outdoor space, keep drinks cool by storing them in sheds or garages (or even in a fully sealed coolbox in your garden!)
Don’t be afraid to cheat!
While in this modern days where we are bombarded with cookery shows, Instagram food bloggers and crafters making everything from scratch, everything can seem overwhelming. However, the shops sell pre-prepared veg for a reason! While undoubtedly making your own gravy can feel like an achievement, there’s nothing wrong with busting out the Bisto or buying pre-peeled vegetables.
When all is said and done – Christmas day is about sharing quality time with your loved ones, so don’t get bogged down in putting together the perfect meal. Ask those coming for dinner to bring along a dish to help take the strain. Get family members to help with peeling the potatoes, and above all else – enjoy your day.