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Christmas at home - how do avoid spending the day in the kitchen?

(54 Posts)
DTisMYdoctor Sat 05-Oct-13 11:58:22

We're planning on spending Christmas Day at home for the first time this year - just me, DH and DS - and we want to have Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, but without spending the whole day in the kitchen!

Any tips? What to make in advance, what to cheat on by ordering from M&S (have some vouchers stashed away etc). We've always been out on Christmas Day, so not sure where to start (hence the planning ahead).

theolddragon01876 Tue 08-Oct-13 03:51:27

Ireallymustbemad yeah it is. You can find brine recipes on line. I put my turkey in a roasting bag with the brine,in a cooler over night the night before I want to cook it. I then stuff it an cook it. NEVER dry,always moist and cooks SO fast ( works for big chickens too btw )

BeaLola Mon 07-Oct-13 10:48:07

We vary starters but they are always easy & quick to do eg smoked salmon or a salmon terrine, we have done garlic king prawns before or a prawn cocktail. You could buy these in if uou didnt want to make them from scratch.

We always cook our turkey christmas eve evening & have bacon sandwiches once cooked from the bacon that covered the turkey - yummy !

Ireallymustbemad Mon 07-Oct-13 07:49:10

I may be ignorant here but what do you mean by brining the turkey? Do you just soak it in salty water??

theolddragon01876 Mon 07-Oct-13 01:39:15

I found brining the turkey the night before not only stops it drying out but it cooks REALLY fast. I did a 15 pound stuffed turkey in 3 1/2 hours last year ( 350 F ). I was amazed.

I do the veggies in advance and leave them in cold water.

I make the starters and deserts in advance too,try for things that are cold ie cheese cake,yule log etc

I like to cook the Christmas dinner though and dont mind pottering around in the kitchen

soontobeslendergirl Sun 06-Oct-13 21:33:17

We have a very similar timetable...or did when the boys were little and wanted breakfast at 7am! Now they are older (12 & 13) they tend to be happy to wait until presents etc are all done so we maybe eat about 10am - with a nice glass of Bucks Fizz smile

So, we more or less skip lunch or maybe grab a wee bit crusty bread before heading out for a walk while everything is in the oven. We eat the main event about 3ish. After everything is cleared up, we settle down to a game and a movie with desert thrown in. A nice wee aperitif for us and a weak snowball for the boys.

And if there is repeat of last year, the cat will bring in a Robin to massacre in the evening, half kill it and then my poor OH has to take it outside and finish it off.............very festive, thanks Cat!!!!

DTisMYdoctor Sun 06-Oct-13 19:23:39

I'm thinking of a similar timeline BonaDea. DS wouldn't eat a big meal early afternoon, and one of the reasons for staying at home was so we could suit ourselves a bit more, go out for a walk etc.

BonaDea Sun 06-Oct-13 18:15:40

Last year we tried something new. We had breakfast at the usual time, then had the starter of soup around 12, along with crusty bread. Had a walk and watched a film, then felt ready for the main event about 3.30 or so. I used a crown from Waitrose and had prepped the veg so not much to so. We then had dessert watching Downton at 8.

We found it great because we got to eat all the lovely stuff but didn't feel too stuffed because it had been spread out over the day. It also lessened the impact for the cook (me) because there was only a little to do at a time. And DH wasn't in the kitchen for hours because he cleared up completely after each course.

We'll be doing it again this year!!

TheYamiOfYawn Sun 06-Oct-13 18:05:08

Our "starter" isn't really starter, but nice things to nibble between normal lunch time and Christmas lunch time, so smoked salmon on wheaten bread, olives, salami, raw veg, that kind of thing. It is eaten standing up while setting the table/finishing off the meal/tidying up the wrapping paper etc.

ChoudeBruxelles Sun 06-Oct-13 17:12:49

Do all veg in advance. Peel/chop/par boil as necessary. You can par boil potatoes and freeze them. The just bung in the oven from frozen. Just get a crown of turkey if only 3 of you.

MadeOfStarDust Sun 06-Oct-13 17:07:30

For us it is just a roast turkey dinner - with the addition of pigs in blankets.. and some stuffing.. don't really "get" all the hassle of spending all day in the kitchen.... I suppose if you have 20 guests it takes a while to peel spuds... but when it is a family of 4/6 then it really doesn't take that long? Does it? Have I been doing it all wrong?

No starters here..... and pud is usually something fruity and light - Eton mess with pineapple instead of berries - that sort of thing. takes 2 min to whisk up.... and does not need cooking...

wheredidiputit Sun 06-Oct-13 10:55:58

We don't bother with starter either OldRoan, always seems A). more hassle then it's worth and B). We done actually eat that much anyway.
Even puddings tend to be eaten about 2 hours after dinner anyway.

I would also suggest buying a meat you like, don't just buy Turkey because it's Christmas. We have gammon and Rolled Rib of Beef as I we don't like turkey enough to spend a lot of money on it.

OldRoan Sun 06-Oct-13 10:27:30

Lots of people seem to have starters - is that not much more hassle in terms of washing up (regardless of preparation)?

We don't generally bother with one which I think makes working out times for everything much easier.

MoominMammasHandbag Sun 06-Oct-13 00:09:16

We have our Christmas dinner at dinner time to avoid snoozing all afternoon. I do as much as possible in advance. Last year I bought a few family games for the kids. Kids and adults all played at the kitchen table while I pottered around heating things up and occasionally suggesting good moves, scrabble words etc over their shoulders.

It was really lovely and relaxed actually and people broke off to pitch in with me from time to time. 10 minutes before I served up, everyone cleared off the table and laid it beautifully.

QueenoftheSarf Sun 06-Oct-13 00:03:44

I find a way to spend just half of Christmas day in the kitchen but unfortunately it means spending half of Christmas Eve in there!

PurpleCrazyHorse Sat 05-Oct-13 23:47:14

We do roast chicken in our slow cooker most Sundays. It doesn't have a golden brown skin on it when you take it out but TBH we take the skin off it anyway before serving. It will also help as you won't need to fit the meat in the oven to cook (leaving plenty of room for roasties and pigs in blankets!!!) and can just set it off in the slow cooker on the morning. I'm sure you could get a small turkey to fit.

Possibly buy packets of ready to steam veg (few mins in the microwave) and then you've just got some potatoes to par boil and shove in the oven.

We use instant gravy too (just treat ourselves to the 'posh' varieties) so again, just need to boil the kettle.

I'd also second the disposable trays, that way you won't spend the rest of the day washing up smile

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 05-Oct-13 23:23:38

blush I love the Christmas cooking.

I've got a through lounge/dining room/ kitchen.
So I do my prep in the kitchen while the soaps are on. (I don't watch EE except for Christmas and I haven't seen Corrie for 6 weeks. Emmers now and again. I won't have a CLUE by Christmas but they always have a rough time)

DH and I are vegetarian. DC have a Free Range chicken breast each.
They don't take ages to cook unlike a whole turkey. DH and I have Quorn roast, it can cook ahead.

I do the veg just before I need them but Christmas Day isn't a day to worry, so it makes sense if you want to do it before.

Things like Yorkshire Puddings I do at the last minute (but I weigh everything out in advance)

I've got a double oven but the top one is really slow.
I use it on a low heat to keep things warm but take the oven shelf out to use in the main oven (so 3 shelves)
And I have a halogen mini oven which is brilliant for Yorkshire puddings.

Steamer for veg (and use the water for gravy)

If it's cold, put drinks outside to keep cold (put a binliner in a heavy box to protect it)

When you do your planning , work out the times of everything , I have a blackboard in the kitchen.
I write everything on it and what time it needs to go in.

Warm your plates
Put a jug of iced water out

Table top warmer? (either tealights or mains)

Fill your sink with soapy water to dunk things in

Have a huge bin with a clean bag to put rubbish in.

Get some guinea-pigs to eat the veg peelings (except potato)

Ireallymustbemad Sat 05-Oct-13 22:56:30
Old daily mail link but lots of tips that work well.

TheYamiOfYawn Sat 05-Oct-13 22:45:28

In general with the veg, you cook for a few minutes, then plunge into icy water, then dry on paper towels, then refrigerate (or leave in the garden) until you are ready to cook it.

TheYamiOfYawn Sat 05-Oct-13 22:43:16

I had a quick google and found lots of good tips. One good recipe was to roast carrots and parsnips for 20 minutes on Christmas eve, and then on the day add a honey and mustard glaze and roast for another 25 minutes.

DTisMYdoctor Sat 05-Oct-13 22:38:40

Thanks for taking the time to post that TheRealHousewife..

Wrt prepping veg in advance that will be roasted is it better to put the prepped veg in water or just covered in the fridge?

TheRealHousewifeOfSomewhere Sat 05-Oct-13 22:29:41

There is very very little you cannot do the day before. I don't buy anything ready made and cook for minimum of 8 every Xmas and spend little time in the kitchen on Xmas day. I do put aside a few hours on Xmas eve (usually in the morning) to prepare though and its makes me feel christmassey to have the radio on with all the christmas songs and a glass of sherry as I go about the prep. now my DC are older I get them helping with the veg as well.

All veg prepped and in pans on hob.

Any stuffing - made in fridge/on trays reasy to just be bunged in the oven. Any roasting tins for spuds/parsnips etc - all prepped ready and in the fridge stacked up for food to be added when ready to be put in the oven.

Pigs in blankets - all made the day before in a dish in the fridge or even on a baking tray (if you have room) so they are ready to just be wacked in the oven/put on the bird when needed.

Cranberry sauce - make 2 days before if you want - it lasts 5 days but I make loads and we like it with the inevitable cold turkey salads that follow the few days after Xmas - so always make mne Xmas eve so it lasts.

Mince pies etc - cook now and feeze and just get them out 24 hours before you want them. Even if you dont make them now - you can make pastry in advance and freeze or refrigerate for upto 5 days.

When it comes to the turkey everyone has their own fave way of cooking and prepping it but I have found a way to cook a bloody big turkey without it drying out and not needing me to go in and baste the thing every 30 minutes. So here is what works for me:
Xmas eve late afternoon/evening I go and prep my bird. Put it on a criss cross of very long foil in a baking tray.

Loosen the skin with my bare hands and shove loads and loads of butter under the skin (dont be stingy).

Then I shove a halves apple, quartered orange or a couple of small satsumas, 1 onion halved and a table spoon of water up its bum/down its neck. Supposed to add flavour - maybe it does but is mainly done for moisture reasons.

Smear more butter all over the birs not forgetting legs.

Then take lots and lots and lots of thick cut streaky bacon and cover the bird taking care to layer the edges of the bacon. Leave nothing of the bird exposed and if this means you need to layer 2 x with bacon - thats fine. This helps prevent the bird drying out and the flavour sinks into some of the meat. Be extra generous with the bacon in places like the legs which will cook quicker.

You can add some pigs in blankets too. Last year I put these all over the bird at the start of cooking (and removed them after an hour - kept them warm until serving in the plate drawer/grill/top oven).

Then wrap the bird with the foil taking care to leave a space between the foil and the bird - creating a little oven.

Bung it in fridge or if room is too tight and its cold enough we have used our garage (that is free from wildlife/hungry pets). Just before going to bed I leave it out Over night somewhere appropiate to raise it to room temperature (ish) as apparently you should before cooking (according to my nanna) - usually a unheated utility room/porch/kitchen windowsill.

On Xmas morning as soon as the kids wake (somewhere between 6 and 7.30am) we stall stockings for 5 minutes and the first thing we do is switch the oven on (same time we pop kettle on for our morning cuppa) and whack it in the oven.
I wack mine in as 180 (fan oven) for 45 minutes (set a timer to turn it down) then turn right down to 150 for X hours.

I then spend very little time switching the veg on roasting veg etc as everything has been prepped the night before - I even lay the table Xmas eve with the kids helping.

I honestly spend hardly anytime at all in the kitchen on Xmas day - and we usually eat somewhere between 1 and 3pm depending on the size of the bird and how early/late we wake Xmas day.

Hope something from this helps you a little. Remember that whatever you do - try and enjoy it and dont get stressed. Radio, pinny and xmas tipple are essential tools!!

Littlemousewithcloggson Sat 05-Oct-13 22:22:36

Trick is to make starter as easy as possible! Soup is a bit boring but very easy just to heat and serve with rolls. Other easy thing is garlic mushrooms on a bed of rocket served with sour cream and chive dip. Both of those are quite cheap for large numbers as well.

DTisMYdoctor Sat 05-Oct-13 22:19:04

We'll do soup I'm sure which I'll make and freeze in advance. DH is partial to a prawn cocktail so he'll probably have that too.

Fresh01 Sat 05-Oct-13 22:04:59

What do people do for easy starters on x-mas day? It is my year to do Xmas dinner this year, 18-20 people so big numbers but I have 4 little kids so want to play with them on Xmas morning : )

Great idea to parboil spuds the day before.

Going to get that Goid Housekeeping magazine too.

theoriginalandbestrookie Sat 05-Oct-13 22:01:46

I've always bought in from M&S , only downside was that a lot of stuff needed microwaving for 5-6 mins and I didn't realise until too late so the turkey was a bit cold. I'd rather do that than eat reheated turkey on Christmas day.

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