Christmas Dinner - first timer please help!(19 Posts)
This year, I am hosting Christmas dinner for the first time. There will be 9 of us (incl one toddler and one vegetarian), and I don't even know where to start!
I've got the Sainsbury's Christmas Food leaflet for some inspiration, but I was hoping for the MN wisdom! I think I'll do a large turkey crown (yay or nay?) and something ready-made for the veggie (like veg/feta in filo pastry). I need your help with 'trimmings'! No idea what to do with spuds (need to avoid goose fat etc for the veggie), and I'd like to do something 'interesting' but easy with the veg.
So share your Christmas trimmings with me please oh wise ones!
Sorry to be completely unhelpful but marking my place as I may be hosting Christmas this year too and would benefit from all good advice
On thing I have heard is to do as much as you can in advance, so choose a veggie dish/starter/pud/whatever you can make ahead a few days/weeks before.
Can I join please - another one waiting for tips. We are moving into a new home and it seems expected we will do dinner eeek!
I do roast potatoes in sunflower oil, and at Christmas I do mashed potato too (although I cheat and get M&S ultimate microwaveable mash because I CBA). Then we have:
Pigs in blankets
Sprouts cooked in butter and bacon lardons (maybe just butter for the veggie!)
Red cabbage (made the day before)
Maple roast parsnips and chantenay carrots (again roast in a little sunflower oil and a bit of maple syrup)
Peas and broccoli (just because DD doesn't like parsnips and demands these)
Cranberry sauce and bread sauce
I do a veggie nut roast which I freeze now. Just do ordinary roast spuds without the animal fat. I also do Brussels with chestnuts which goes down well.
Also I have a crown if there is about 4 of us. You may find it more economical to have. Full turkey with a lot if people.
I have a spreadsheet for Christmas dinner. Broken down by timings, when item is bought, equipment needed etc. I am that sad!
Starters, choose something which the veggie will eat so you are only preparing once
Main, turkey crown is fine and takes less time to cook. You could do this in advance - I do mine first thing in the morning to then leave the oven free. potatoes can be par boiled and deep fried for quickness or roasted in veg oil. I peel and cut up and aim to do about 3-4 for each person. They need a very hot oven for about 30-45 mins depending on variety of spud and size.
Pig in blankets - buy early and freeze, defrost the day before, on baking tray and in oven. I put them on a wire tray so the fat drains off them and they dont end up with soggy bottoms.
Sprouts - par boil, and leave in the water - they will still continue to cook but less likely to go mushy as you cook slowly. If not completely done by the time you need them the just whack them back on the heat. You can add bacon and chestnuts as well.
Carrots <whispers> i use frozen ones so this is just open packets and Par boil same as sprouts. Usually also do something else easy like peas and frozen parsnips.
Stuffing - buy, shove in oven and serve.
things like steamers will free up a ring on the cooker, if you have one.
Get table set on christmas eve and all plates, bowls, serving dishes etc out as well.
My other fail safe tip is to start on the bucks fizz around 10ish, wine by 12ish and tia maria by 6ish all purely medicinal as it numbs the pain of burning myself constantly.
I don't do a crown because everyone in my house wants to have a leg (3 legged Turkey anyone?). I cook it on Christmas Eve so we have the carcas for stock and gravy and also it frees up the oven on Christmas day for the Roast spuds/stuffing/pigs in blankets etc.
I carve/portion my Turkey and pop the amount for Christmas day into the slow cooker on Christmas morning with the gravy and set it on low so it's basically ready to dish up when the veggies and potatoes are ready. I par boil my potatoes and take out the ones for roasting and carry on cooking the other half for mash. I like roast parsnips and carrots and also fresh cooked carrots and sprouts.
Ooh I forgot to add I make and freeze Jamie Oliver's get-ahead gravy in advance. It isn't veggie but it's really yummy, so you could always make this and then whip up a quick veggie one on the day if needed.
Roast potatoes cook perfectly well in vegetable oil - you just need a very hot oven.
I have a houseful every year so I also do a dish of gratin. Basically cut potatoes into slices, cover with milk and cream, sprinkle salt in, maybe a grate of nutmeg, and simmer until very very very soft.
Half an hour before you want to eat them, whack in an oven proof dish, dot with butter and bake. Lush!
Experience has taught me that vegetables other than potatoes do not get eaten in quantities by large numbers on Xmas day. I steam carrots and peas, add a knob of butter and that's all. Maybe at a push, green beans.
We are very meat heavy here. A huge turkey. Pork and fruit stuffing. Chippolatas wrapped in bacon. Rich gravy...
Oh and home made cranberry sauce is worth the effort (which is surprisingly small). Put cranberries, sugar (twice what you think you will need), a squeezed orange, maybe the zest, ciniammon, a glug of port and boil. When the mixture looks how you want it take a taste (it will probably need even more sugar). when you're happy cool. Stick in fridge for a day or so no bother.
I also have a timetable of events that I stick to religiously. From it I have fed over 20!
Buy as many of the trimmings ready made as you can, pigs in blankets, stuffing, dates in bacon etc.
Buy cranberry sauce and add a dash of port or brandy to it to dress it up a bit.
If you are making your own bread sauce, do this on Christmas Eve.
Make a timetable by working backwards from your dishing up time.
If you are serving a traditional style Christmas pudding make sure it is vegetarian friendly.
Serve a vegetarian starter that everyone will eat, there are some tasty vegetarien pates available, or asparagus with a sauce, or garlic mushrooms.
(if the vegetarian eats fish this will increase your options)
<ducks down behind fence>
A few days beforehand get out all the crockery you will need including serving plates and glasses and wash it.
Once you've planned the menu, get out all the ovenware you will need, make sure it all fits in the oven, change your timings if you need to.
Don't forget crackers and napkins, set the table on Christmas Eve if at all possible, get a child to help lay the table.
Don't drink too much, or your timings will go to pot!!
I think for your first year hosting, make it simple for yourself!
Order a pre-stuffed/prepared turkey that you just bung in the oven, ideally also get a disposable turkey roasting tray.
Potatoes can be roasted in veg oil, I usually use rapeseed oil for normal Sunday lunches, just get the oil hot before putting them in. I'd also do carrots and parsnips roasted so throw in with the spuds.
Big thing, just work out when your turkey needs to go in the oven to be ready to carve when you want to eat, allow about 30mins resting time after it's come out the oven (so many dry turkeys are due to being carved straight from the oven). This probably will mean switching your oven on as you come downstairs to open gifts. If it's ready to bung in, this means just walking away from the morning fun for 5mins.
I no longer bother with starters, just doing lots of canapés, just easier with toddlers as that limits the time you are expecting them to sit at the table.
No one in my family actually likes sprouts, so we have broccoli instead. Only my mum eats Christmas pudding, so I buy one microwave one for her and make something like a line cheesecake for everyone else the day before.
And the cranberry sauce, bread sauce, pigs in blanket etc can be bought.
And remember, it's just a Sunday lunch with slightly different meat and a few extra sides, this is only as stressful as you make it!
I buy a whole big turkey, then crown it, bone the legs/ thighs and stuff with a sausagemeat stuffing (different one each side) and roll in foil to bake alongside the crown. This means plenty of meat for everyone plus the rolled turkey makes great sandwiches.
i've got a standard single sized oven and a big turkey fills it. A big crown with the sausage stuffed rolls alongside leaves space for a big tray of potatoes. What I tend to do is get the turkey cooked just over an hour before serving, cover in foil (with the ends just open so it doesn't keep cooking) then big towels over to keep it warm. That way the oven is free so I can have a full shelf of stuffings and sausages, one tray of potatoes, and one tray of roasted root veg. I find in a full oven I need to allow a little more time for everything to cook and to get the roastys crispy i take everything else out wack up the heat for ten minutes then add the pre cooked yorkshires from frozen for another five minutes.
I do in advance and freeze: stuffing balls wrapped in bacon, pigs in blankets, frozen cook from frozen cheap party sausages (because actually thats the ones my DC like best), Yorkshire puddings, vegan nut roast, cranberry and orange sauce, bread sauce, onion sauce, gravy both meat and veg/ onion gravy.
Veg in advance chilled: brussels (sometimes my mum does them with chestnuts), carrots, par boiled potatoes, new potatoes, red onion/ rosemary/ carrots/ parsnips/ swede etc to roast.
Veg from the freezer: peas
For starter I either do a soup (vegetable so suitable for everyone) or a terrine. (It sometimes comes down to what plates I'll have available depending on numbers and desert options.)
For dessert, other than the traditional pudding, brandy butters, cream, icecreams etc i do a platter of berry fruit/ chocolates/ truffles then a cheeseboard platter (both easy to prep in advance) as I find people graze for pudding after the stuffing that is Christmas dinner.
I also do late morning canapés that we eat with champagne whilst opening presents, then have lunch starting at 2ish.
Its definitely worth working out your pans, rings and oven shelves in advance. A few decent big microwave vent lid cooking dishes (About £1 in poundland/ homebargains/ B&M type stores) can really help spread the load if you've got a microwave.
At the end of the day people are there for your company and to spend time together, ensure there are drinks aplenty (somewhere obvious so people help themselves - its one less job for you) so glasses can be refreshed regularly (be it alcoholic or not, dare I suggest fruit shoot type drinks make keeping the kids refreshed so much easier, saves washing up and spillage clearing up) and don't stress if some things aren't exactly as you wanted them to be. No one will know.
Oh the tip about working out how everything will fit on your oven is great! Remember though you will have the time the turkey is resting /being carved to put more things in, your pigs in blankets definitely can cook in that time.
Do twice as many pigs in blankets as you think, they are very popular and are great for snacking later in the day/ Boxing Day.
Keep the veg simple. I usually do roast carrots and parsnips. I par boil the sprouts then sautée them in butter with chestnuts and parsley (and bacon lardons if there's no veggies). I don't bither with any other veg as it doesn't get eaten.
As you have a veggie at the table I would roast the potatoes in veg oil with a sprig of rosemary and an unpeeled clove of garlic for flavour.
Last year for starter I did a pear and walnut salad with a Stilton dressing which was quick and easy and went down well.
Get your oven serviced and professionally cleaned now so it's ready.
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