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Eeek, suddenly cooking for 11 at Christmas. What can I do in advance?

(66 Posts)
atticusclaw Tue 18-Nov-14 08:55:13

Cooking for 11 is enough stress but added to that we are on holiday right before Christmas and only get back 2 days before. Then to add to the difficulty we are having Christmas day itself at my parents house and the DH's family put Christmas on hold and we repeat Christmas day again on Boxing day since they won't have had the turkey etc. This adds the problem of not having the day before to prepare. Oh yes and I also have three veggetarians to throw into the mix.

So basically I have the time up to 12th December then I have 23rd and 24th. I'd really like not to be running around like a headless chicken. What, if anything, can I do way in advance?

madamecake Tue 18-Nov-14 09:03:10

I made quite a lot for last Christmas in advance and froze;

Savoury tarts for the starter, Stuffing, Pigs in blankets, red cabbage, cranberry sauce, Jamie Oliver's make ahead gravy that you just add the turkey juices to on the day, Rum sauce for pudding, chocolate torte.

Also par-boiled the potatoes and parsnips then roasted from frozen.

Made the Christmas puddings in November.

atticusclaw Tue 18-Nov-14 09:04:10

Right, I need to make me a list!

Off to google Jamies make ahead gravy!

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Tue 18-Nov-14 09:05:28

Ooh, do the parsnips and potatoes taste as good cooked from frozen?

If so that's a brilliant idea!

atticusclaw Tue 18-Nov-14 09:11:01

so the pigs in blankets I just cook in advance and then reheat?

madamecake Tue 18-Nov-14 09:15:57

Yes, that taste just the same to me! I use Delia Smith's recipe for the potatoes, parsnips, red cabbage, rum sauce and chocolate torte. She gives great instructions for preparing in advance.

I don't cook the pigs in blankets, just assemble them and put in a disposable foil tray so I can just stick them straight in the oven when defrosted. It probably doesn't save that much time but I like to have little jobs out of the way.

FuckYouChrisAndThatHorse Tue 18-Nov-14 09:19:03

Excellent smile I shall have to do a test run. Thanks for this thread op! I've just agreed to cook for 14 and preparing all this in advance would be a life saver!

wonkylegs Tue 18-Nov-14 09:31:11

I did 12 last year and due to a bit of a disaster our kitchen was only finished on the morning of the 24th of December.
It was fine, not how I would have chosen to do it. I couldn't do much in advance as I didn't have a kitchen.
I bought the pigs in blankets ready prepped from Butcher with the turkey.
We planned, planned & planned some more. We roped in helpers to peel & prep veg on Christmas Eve & morning. Made trifle as soon as the kitchen was clean on the 24th.
Starter was simple - smoked salmon, little toasted things & some cream cheese stuff that DH whipped up in about 5mins.
I bought loads of pastries so Christmas breakfast was easy to clear away and required no effort, so I had time to concentrate on lunch.

Aberchips Tue 18-Nov-14 09:36:51

Oooh great thread OP. We have 12 adults for Christmas dinner & there are some great ideas on here! I'm making a list now of what I can do ahead.

I had thought of making up stuffing balls & pre cooking & freezing them to re-heat on the day. Does anyone know if this would work?

You can also make cranberry/ bread sauce ahead & freeze those. I've found Delia to be really helpful for Christmas planning too.

atticusclaw Tue 18-Nov-14 09:51:51

Making up the stuffing balls would be a big help. I wonder whether any time is saved by cooking from frozen but at least the physical preparation of the balls would be done.

higgle Tue 18-Nov-14 11:43:32

You could always do a 100% M&S Christmas......

WizardOfToss Tue 18-Nov-14 12:10:47

fshock at WonkyLegs kitchen! You are amazing, I would have had a meltdown ( threw a wobbly when I ran out of kitchen roll one year fblush)

I agree that Delia's Christmas book is ace for prepare ahead. One note of caution on freezing pre-cooked stuffing balls - my MIL did this and they came out incredibly hard, like cannon balls. I think prep and freeze without precooking.

Jenni2legs Tue 18-Nov-14 12:15:50

For the vegetarians I would make some make ahead Christmas burgers - the pattie shape seam a lot less dry than a nut roast type thing, and individual portions look like you've made more effort.

These are vegan but look yummy and would be lovely with veg and gravy.

or festive veggie burgers I have made before on a budget are - blend up an onion, two carrots and an apple in a food processor, add a pack of stuffing (I use Sains basics was 15p) and add a few chopped cranberries (or a spoon of cranberry sauce).

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Tue 18-Nov-14 13:20:35

While I think there is definitely prep that can be done in advance, I also think that a stress free traditional Christmas dinner is a bit of a myth tbh grin It maybe helps to be realistic about it from the off?

We have a bit of a tradition in my family that everyone contributes something towards Christmas dinner. Red cabbage is my speciality, dm always makes the Christmas pudding, db orders the cheese etc so all the burden of work doesn't fall to one person.

We tend to not have a formal starter these days - the kitchen is busy enough as it is. Instead we have a glass of fizz and posh nibbles just before the final onslaught of cooking. Ask someone else to bring both grin (or buy from M&S?)

For the main course, I think the main thing is to try not to go totally overboard with side dishes. I know people who do 3 types of potato and 7 different veg which feels like overkill to me. I also keep some of the veg pretty plain - usually steamed carrots and sprouts - as I think it's a nice contrast to the

You can make stuffing ahead of time and freeze I think? I don't do balls, I stuff the bird with some and maybe cook the rest in a little dish if there's some leftover. Red cabbage is a very nice side dish which can definitely be cooked ahead and frozen. YY to cook ahead gravy. I've also heard that you can parboil and then freeze potatoes in advance too - maybe one to test out beforehand?

For the veggies I'd maybe do a mushroom and cheese tartlet? Ready rolled bought puff pastry circles topped with sauteed garlicky mushrooms, fresh thyme, cheese of your choice.

We always have Christmas pudding and luckily everyone likes it which again keeps things simple. If you do want to do a choice of dessert, again can you ask someone else to bring and serve it?

And definitely delegate on the clearing up grin

LikeASoulWithoutAMind Tue 18-Nov-14 13:22:52

Sorry I meant a bit of steamed veg is a nice contrast to all the very rich food on the plate.

Oh and maybe buy your pigs in blankets ready made? It's just bacon rolled around sausages, there is not glory to be had in rolling your own imho. grin

Girlsbrigadewashorrible Tue 18-Nov-14 13:56:06

Like a Soul, I agree with you about simplifying the menu. I'm hosting for ten this year including three teenagers who have big appetites. I actually don't like turkey but everyone else does so I'm going to order a biggish one this week, to collect on the 24th. I will be buying (and hiding) all my dry goods over the next couple of weeks. I will buy in frozen short crust pastry ready for dd2 to make mince pies. I usually buy all my veg on the 23rd (go very early in the morning), then I prep my veg on Christmas Eve and get DH to sort out the turkey and stuff it. Yes yes to making the gravy the day before, and then adding some meat juices on the day. We will have roast potatoes, parsnips, pigs in blankets, sprouts, green beans and carrots. That's six dishes (plus the gravy boat) rotating around the table which I think is plenty. Any more than that and their is too much fussing and passing about and the food gets cold.
Now my dc are older I find it much easier as the youngest one loves cooking and is a great help. The older two are getting better at serving drinks etc so I get less stressed with trying to be a hostess at the same time as cooking.
We are having Christmas pud, trifle and something shop bought for dessert.

Ilisten2thesoundofdrums Tue 18-Nov-14 14:19:20

I am not actually cooking a whole turkey - I am doing the Delia cheats trukey from her book - make stuffing then roll a turkey steak around and secure with streaky bacon and goose/duck fat if you have it. Put all in large tray foil and freeze. Just cook once defrosted. Everyone gets one each, no leftovers and throw out the tin foil tray!

I've never tried doing the potatoes etc in advance. How do they come out?

Also for the Veggies you could make a nut loaf or similar that could be frozen and reheated through on the day. It would go with the rest of the veggies etc from the traditional roast and would make life relatively simple

AJ65 Tue 18-Nov-14 15:54:10

We do cauliflower cheese for my 'vegetarian' MiL as it goes with the usual trimmings - so long as you don't overcook the cauliflower you can mix it with the cheese sauce, freeze it, then defrost, cover in cheese and bake with the turkey (or whatever).

AJ65 Tue 18-Nov-14 15:55:03

Also, if you're cooking for 11, surely some of them can help out on the day!!

foolonthehill Tue 18-Nov-14 16:05:18

everything except the turkey and bread sauce....I've never found a way of successfully freezing bread sauce.......:

Mary berry has a good recipe for freeze ahead roast potatoes.
veggies can all be cooked ahead or bought frozen and heated.
Cranberry sauce...easy to freeze if you make it (or buy a jar!)
Gravy freezes ok.
i love this stuffing roll...sorts pork/bacon and stuffing in one go []
Pudding is not necessary to freeze as traditionally is kept from one yeaqr to the next. Ditto cake.
Mince pies and sausage rolls can all be cooked from frozen

foolonthehill Tue 18-Nov-14 16:08:18

Kiffykaffycoffee Tue 18-Nov-14 16:11:55

Vegetarians can have a nut loaf. This can be easily made in advance and frozen. Be warned though it's so delicious the carnivores will want it!
You can also make bread sauce and stuffing ahead and freeze them. Ditto Yorkshire pudding.
Potatoes can be peeled and parboiled the day before so you only have to roast them in the hot fat on the day.
I've known people pre-roast the turkey, carve it and warm it up in gravy on the day, but I think a freshly roasted turkey is a great centrepiece for your festive table and adds to the sense of occasion.
Xmas pud doesn't need to be steamed for 3 hours on the hob if you have a microwave.
You can peel and cross the sprouts and prepare other veg the day before, but I think you need to cook them fresh.

Scaredycat3000 Tue 18-Nov-14 16:20:35

I regularly freeze mashed potatoes. I just make as normal then freeze. It tastes horrible once defrosted right up until you have completely reheated it, then it tastes normal. My tips if you do freeze mash, it is very dense so takes a very long time to defrost and to heat up. So take out the night before and defrost on the side overnight and allow at least 2 hours for heating in the oven or 20 min and lots of stirring in the microwave.

needastrongone Tue 18-Nov-14 16:23:32

Just as an aside, from someone who has, on alternate years, catered for 20 for about 10 years now, make sure you have enough plates, cutlery, mats, chairs, serving bowls, napkins, crackers etc. Obviously it doesn't have to match but sometimes, the logistics of getting 20 people to the table in some kind of order is hard too. I had to borrow chairs once smile

Use your kettle and sink to keep plates and bowls warm.

Serving spoons, etc, just thinking and typing.

Also, you could book a supermarket delivery now for the 23/24th, saving you some time.

quietbatperson Tue 18-Nov-14 16:42:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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