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Christmas Dinner - Help!

(32 Posts)
Musidora Thu 15-Oct-15 13:31:01

Hi all, eager for your wisdom and expertise here! This year we are having Christmas at my GPs' house because they can't travel far. DM and I will do the cooking. The tricky part is that we won't drive to GPs' until Christmas morning (3-hour journey) and then we will be cooking - for 11/12 people - in an absolutely TINY and ANCIENT kitchen.

My question is: can you think of things that we can do in advance to make it all easier? Food that we can prepare and then transport with relative ease to finish off/heat up once we're there? So far all I can think of is to do some red cabbage in advance as that will freeze and then survive the journey in some tupperware... What else?!

Unfortunately asking others to bring dishes isn't really an option (long story), and nor is having a buffet or some other meal. It has to be the traditional Christmas roast for my GPs' sake.

Thanks in advance for any tips!

curriegirl Thu 15-Oct-15 13:38:00

You could cook the turkey the day before and carve it. Put it in a tray for the drive, cover in gravy on the day and warm through?

I do all my veg in a steamer. Do you have one? They don't cost much and you just switch it on and leave it to do its thing.

Pigs in blankets and roasties need to be done on the day but you could par boil your potatoes the day before and just take them in a Tupperware with goose/duck fat in a jar.

Don't do a starter unless you have to?

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Thu 15-Oct-15 13:42:59

What time are you planning to eat? We don't usually have Christmas dinner till about 4pm and that works nicely with getting a fairly large turkey in the oven in the morning. If you went for a smallish turkey or a large chicken or had beef/pork instead of a turkey, you could get it in as soon as you arrived and it would be ready in time for lunch/dinner at about 3pm, I'd have thought.

You can take all vegetables with you ready to cook. Delia Smith's parmesan parsnips are great and you can do all the preparation in advance. I've never part-cooked the potatoes in advance but I believe it can be done.

Will your mum be cooking anything at all before you get there? At the very least she could pre-heat the oven so the meat can go in as soon as possible after you arrive.

Good luck!

angemorange Thu 15-Oct-15 13:46:30

A stuffed turkey crown won't take as long to cook in an oven and you could put roast spuds in with it after a bit to save space. You could parboil spuds day before. When it's ready you can slice the roast crown down so there's no waste.

Steamer good idea or buy ready to roast veg and stick on another oven shelf.

Gravy out of a packet or granules and trifle or desserts could be made beforehand to save time.

We've done something like this before at my mum's when our house was a building site - accept it won't be up to Nigella standards and keep it simple!

redannie118 Thu 15-Oct-15 13:49:41

I always cook my turkey the night before then carve it a warm it in the oven with some stock and covered with tin foil. Par boil pots and prepare all your veg the night before. Stacking steamer is a brilliant Idea too

LikeSilver Thu 15-Oct-15 13:58:48

Jamie's Make-Ahead gravy is yum and frozen in advance.

M&S do lovely pots of bread sauce and cranberry sauce.

Chicken instead of Turkey would be quicker to cook?

howtorebuild Thu 15-Oct-15 14:07:40

Do stuffing in a loaf tin, takes up less room.

Prepare something like melon wrapped in Parma ham or pate in advance for starters, transport in Tupperware.

Artandco Thu 15-Oct-15 14:09:52

Red cabbage - take done. I use a lovely bbc good food recipe with red currant jelly and apples. Takes an hour but can be frozen so you can make say a week in advance and freeze.

Take Turkey crown and beef. Can just put in oven and don't take too long

Add a few easy veg and potatoes and your done.

ppandj Thu 15-Oct-15 15:11:35

Red cabbage as you say smile

Gravy - if making it from scratch.
Roasties - par boil them and dry them in a tea towel then sprinkle with m&s roast potato seasoning beforehand, then pop the oven when you get there . Imo this makes them fluffier on the inside. I've never tried it but you could possibly do the same with parsnips.
Stuffing - cook beforehand but then pop it under the grill if you can to just crisp up the top. Or, if you can't do it beforehand cook in balls to reduce cooking time.
Pigs in blankets
Alternative pudding to Christmas pud you could do a lemon posset (tom kerridge recipe is yummy).

And if you use the disposable foil trays to save washing up and also that way it will be easier to keep track of pots to take home with you.

Chelsea26 Thu 15-Oct-15 15:27:13

you can parboil potatoes and freeze them so could do them way before and cook from frozen - take about 65 minutes to roast but turkey will be in for that long anyway. Also will be easier to transport frozen rather than just boiled - you might end up with mash!

Snausage Thu 15-Oct-15 16:28:27

Hello, Musidora. You can par-roast potatoes, according to Mary Berry - I have never tried this but will be testing it out prior to Christmas as this will make my life MUCH easier on Christmas Day.
Red cabbage can be done in advance.
You can buy prepared veg that can just go in the microwave (I will be getting sprouts and carrot batons).
Pigs in blankets can be prepared and par-cooked the night before. You can finish the cooking just before you eat.
If you have mash on Christmas day, I'd buy pre-prepared stuff that just needs heating. I'd do the same with ready-made (fresh) gravy.
Stuffing you can make beforehand and cover with foil while it heats up in the oven.

I'm definitely one to (try) and do everything from scratch on Christmas Day, but not at the expense of your (and everyone else's) enjoyment and your sanity! Personally, I would make things as easy as you possibly can for yourself.

Musidora Thu 15-Oct-15 16:43:02

Thank you for this brilliant advice everyone! I will definitely propose to my DM that we cook the turkey on Christmas Eve, and freeze potatoes, and lots of your other great suggestions. Snausage and angemorange you are right we will have to accept it won't be the most elaborate Christmas dinner, but if we can get through it with no disasters we'll be happy!!

girlywhirly Thu 15-Oct-15 16:52:04

If I was doing this, I would roast turkey in advance, slice and either reheat in the oven there, in foil, or put slices in gravy in a casserole dish to reheat. This will take less room in the oven than a whole turkey.
Take ready prepared stuffing and pigs in blankets to put in the oven. These can be made and frozen,
Ready peeled and chopped veg,
Remember things like cranberry sauce.

It really shouldn't take longer than an hour from arriving for all to be ready to serve. If there is no microwave there, you could take yours with you to help get veg cooked/reduce pan congestion on the hob, and if you take microwaveable Christmas pud you can heat it while having the main course, and the same with bought custard/brandy sauce when you are ready to eat pud. You may need to bring suitable microwaveable containers for the sauces.

I had thought about this before my FIL died, as we used to go and get him and bring him to ours, but thought that if for some reason we had to go and stay there at his home at Christmas with limited culinary facilities, the above is what I would have done. He had a nice cooker and a microwave, but virtually no utensils and when we used to go for the week-end we used to take meals I'd cooked!

HappyAsASandboy Thu 15-Oct-15 17:19:51

I used to this at my grandparents the weekend before christmas. I went on the train, with christmas dinner in a pull along suitcase!

I did a turkey crown that comes in a foil tray ready to roast.
Prep the pigs in blankets, on a baking tray and cling filmed.
Peel and chop the carrots and swede (for carrot and swede mash) and take in Tupperware or pan.
Peel carrots and sprouts and take in tupperware or same pan as above.
Chop cabbage and take in Tupperware or in steamer in pan.
Take a bought christmas pud to microwave.
Take brandy/cornflour/milk/sugar to make brandy sauce.

I used to stand the pull along up and stack everything in, then constantly watch the suitcase to make sure it stood up the whole journey! It worked well smile

Personally I would stick to christmas pud rather than trifle etc as a christmas pud still in it's wrapping is pretty bombproof! A trifle is quite fragile in a car.
Take gravy granules.

catskate Fri 16-Oct-15 16:05:05

We've always cooked the turkey on christmas eve, carved it, in a tray with gravy redy to just heat on christmas day, never realised it was a bit odd untill I was about 20!

I've found it makes the turkey jucier too if you use a good gravy, but maybe thats me. Yes to the disposable foil tins and I'd be buying anything else that you can get premade too to make things easier, but then again, I'd much rather be sitting down with a gin and tonic than standing over a stove anyway!

Sgtmajormummy Fri 16-Oct-15 17:19:42

I agree with everything PPs say about cutting corners; readymade gravy, custard in a carton and microwaveable christmas pudding are all perfectly fine.
I make mince pies and freeze them in advance. Ten minutes in a warm oven is enough to bring them back to life. All the vegetables get prepped and frozen, ready to put in boiling water.
To be honest IME all people are really interested in is roast potatoes (lots!), sausages, stuffing and a bit of meat so they're what I concentrate on.

You say the kitchen is tiny. Apart from a microwave which is a must, have you thought of a way of keeping things warm in the dining room? Slow cooker or electric hotplates would do the job, but personally I lust after a buffet server/Hostess Trolley!
If the other guests (11!) aren't interested in contributing food, you could at least ask them for help logistically by lending and bringing extra equipment. Otherwise you'll be run off your feet. It's your Christmas too! flowers

Sgtmajormummy Fri 16-Oct-15 17:30:49

Phwoar! Appliance envy!

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 16-Oct-15 18:14:56

Have you got enough plates,cutlery,glasses,serving spoons,gravey boat, type things?

Borrow, get everyone else to bring or have a look round and start collecting some before the big day.

(One reason cooking at my parents is a blinking nightmare. Trying to get enough chairs and plates hmm )

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 16-Oct-15 18:38:53

Other cook ahead things-

swede/turnip cooked and pureed. Black pepper,butter,nutmeg if you like. Heat when you get there

sprouts can be panfried with chestnuts

carrots precooked then fried with almonds and butter

I've never frozen Yorkshire Puddings or roast potatoes but it can be done (I might try the frozen Yorkshires rather than buy some Aunt Bessies. I like the fact they cook in 4 minutes but they aren't the same as proper ones)

shadowfax07 Fri 16-Oct-15 19:20:53

If you are thinking of doing a starter, this is what I'm thinking of doing, as it needs to chill overnight.

A bag of rocket and some lemon wedges and that's the starter done.

Musidora Fri 16-Oct-15 21:29:32

You are all amazing <3

70isaLimit I love fried sprouts with chestnuts - but would par-boiled sprouts survive a long car journey? Would you put them in tupperware (with any water)?

HappyAs I can't believe you took Christmas dinner in a suitcase :O I am in awe. Thanks for your tips about transporting things, that's part of our concern too as there will be 4 of us plus dog plus presents in the car!

I should say that the other guests have good reasons not to be able to contribute food (e.g. illness / being students), they're not just lazy! They would all help with cooking but the kitchen's too small. But people will bring cutlery, pots, etc. so things like that aren't a problem.

GloGirl Fri 16-Oct-15 21:36:06

Stuffing in a loaf tin! Genius!

Jackmelad Fri 16-Oct-15 22:40:42

Can you not get a supermarket delivery to your grandparents, and/or get the students or other family members who live closer to do the bulk of the shopping (and who ever has the funds to pay for this) to save having to transport a full Christmas dinner? Or at least someone gets the stuff that needs to go in the fridge and puts it in your grandparents fridge.

If grandparents have a freezer, could prepared food be put in it before Christmas in readiness?

If you have to transport food, do not, as someone up thread said, par cook pigs in blankets. All meat should either be transported raw and kept at the correct temperature, or cooked and kept cold.

Jackmelad Fri 16-Oct-15 22:42:40

Btw doesn't everyone not use loaf tins or foil trays for stuffing!

RJnomaaaaaargh Fri 16-Oct-15 22:44:44

Starters and desserts can be easy - soup and pate made the day before, and dessert bought from m and s. I do that at home anyway the years we do a Xmas dinner.

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