Help me with dinner logistics. Bitten off more than I can (ho ho) chew?

(6 Posts)
Blithereens Thu 21-Aug-14 18:40:50

For reasons, we will be staying with PIL 23/24th Dec, then spending 24th late afternoon/evening and 25th early morning with my DM, then bringing my DM over to PILs for Christmas Day and dinner, which DH and I will cook along with the various BILs and SILs who will be there (numbers to be confirmed).

Sounds complicated but is actually the best scenario so that we get to spend time at both houses (Christmas Eve always been very special for DM and I) but eat at PILs house which is masses bigger, and neither DM (life of the party but terrible cook) or DMIL (fab cook but too anxious to do Christmas dinner) have to cook.

They will buy all the ingredients in if I give them a list. I'm thinking how to organise this. I'll have made Christmas cake and MIL will have made mince pies well in advance.

My current vague plan is to check all the ingredients when we get there on the 23rd, and run out for any extras. I won't be cooking a starter as we are more a bacon sandwiches and selection box kind of family grin

I'm thinking then on 24th morning we will do all the prep. Get everything chopped, in pans, on baking sheets etc. MIL has two ovens, two freezers, giant fridge and 'outside fridge' (garage). We may be cooking for as many as ten people, and certainly seven. Two are vegetarians but not vegans, so I could use some recommendations for a nice turkey substitute. And should I be doing two lots of roasties or is there a magical way of making them as nice as Nigella's goose fat ones even if I don't use goose fat?

Apart from instructing BIL to put the turkey in at a certain time on 25th morning, what can I do on the 23rd/24th to make sure that the 25th runs smoothly? This is our first 'blended' Christmas and I really want it to go well. DH, BIL and I are all good cooks but they are not organised fellows and rather prone to double-acting which is v amusing but not productive grin so I will be in charge of timings etc.

Does anyone have a foolproof timescale/to-do list that they swear by? We plan to eat at 4. Aargh, I don't want it to be a disaster!

FunkyBoldRibena Thu 21-Aug-14 18:47:57

Crikey - with that many ovens and freezers it should be no problem.

Meat in one oven, that comes out and into cooler oven - and two massive trays of roasties in hot oven an hour before serving - one veggie and one not. Don't forget parsnips and carrots and stuffing balls. All the veg prepped the night before go on 30 mins before serving. Use the meat and roasty pan to make the gravy [buy gravy browning, use flour to thicken and the veg water and cook on the hob]. Use gravy granules for the veggie gravy. All veg put in bowls and kept in cooler oven [keep veggie roasties together in one bowl and meaty roasties in another]. Dress meat, and take the meat and bowls of veg and gravy all out together. Get someone to carve meat and tuck in.

All those not cooking do the washing up. That's the most important bit of course.

Depending on how far you live from your inlaws, you could have a weekend/day early in December and do a lot of the prep and freeze it. Good Food normally start a Christmas plan ahead schedule - maybe even from September. Then you just need to follow their time plans. Or the Delia Christmas book has a time plan.

MadameJ Tue 26-Aug-14 07:14:22

I am very jealous of all the oven space, I have somehow managed to invite 12 people for lunch and I have 1 small oven so not sure how that's going to work?? I am looking at it as just another roast dinner, unfortunately 2 of the people who are coming are very good cooks so it may be interesting hmm

Also envy at fridge and oven space.

OK- for the vegetarians (I am one too grin ) do a vegetable nut roast (they are always trotted out as a Vegetarian Meal, but TBH, I never eat one when I'm out)
I have a recipe somewhere for a Good Housekeeping White Nut Loaf that I made for my Mum, DH and I. Don't be faffing about with souffles and things in pastry because of the timing.
WRT the roast potatoes - I make mine with Maris Piper , par boil, then shake to make them fluffy. Then let hem go cold. I use vegetable oil, and they are delicious, I've never eaten goose or duck fat, so I don't know what I'm missing.

Then loads of vegetables, and in our house, Yorkshire puddings (great if you have an oven you can set aside, put up to mega high and put a timer on)

SolitudeSometimesIs Fri 29-Aug-14 11:07:31

Jamie Oliver has a fab gravy recipe and you can do the majority of it in advance and freeze it, just take it out to defrost on the 24th then mix with turkey juices and heat.

When numbers have been confirmed you need to work out approx how much everyone will eat - how many potatoes, slices of turkey etc. Have you finalised a menu? We used Jamie Olivers recipe for goose fat roast potatoes and one off the BBC website for the traditional turkey. I printed off the recipes and had them sellotaped to the front of our kitchen press so we could see what needed to be done next, and as a step was completed we'd put a line through it. I wrote out the entire days cooking schedule and had that sellotaped up as well.

Set a time for dinner to be ready - say 3pm, then work backwards using your recipe timings to set alarms on your phone as reminders for what you need to do and at what time. It means you're not clock watching and you can really relax.

Christmas Eve you need to get everyone in to the kitchen with some alcohol and do all the prep. It'll take an hour max. if everyone pitches in. Cover everything in tinfoil and write what it is on top and what time it's to go in the oven. Par boil and refrigerate potatoes and veg in advance too, they can be finished in the oven.

I handled Christmas dinner like a military operation but we're doing it all again this year because a bit of organisation made sure it ran so smoothly.

Good luck!

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