How on earth do you cook Christmas dinner.......(17 Posts)
......when there's 15 of you? I've just added up how many relatives are likely to be in the country next Christmas, and we've got the biggest house. I have a normal sized kitchen. My oven is normal sized, and grill can also be used as an oven. Microwave works as an oven too, but isn't brilliant. Four hob rings and a wok burner. This year there were five of us. It was a struggle cramming everything in and timing it right, and we didn't even have a whole turkey. Restaurant or hotel not really an option unfortunately.
Those of you who have done Christmas dinner en masse, any tips? I'm a decent cook, but my weakest point is definitely timing. How can I remain unfrazzled?
Failing that, how can I persuade the in-laws to have Christmas abroad?!
You can precook stuff like red cabbage and reheat in a slow cooker. A large turkey cantaken out to 'stand' for a while before serving, long enough to get the pigs in blankets in and to crisp up roast potatoes you parboiled and part roasted (part roast for 45 min, crisp up for final 15 min) earlier/the day before.
Buy or borrow a hostess trolley!
They are very 70s, but if your kitchen is big enough you can plug it in and keep everything warm while you do the last minute things.
DM, who is 80, cooked for 11 of us this Christmas and she definitely couldn't have done it without her hostess. She did a leg of lamb, oven-baked fish for two people and a home-made nut roast.
She's a legend, by the way
All large joints should be taken out to rest anyway. So you do them first, then add stuff like roast potatoes in after ( par boil so quicker). Same with any roasted root veg, par boil earlier in day then roast later
Pre cook red cabbage weeks before and freeze, microwave on day.
We cooked our turkey and then left it to rest for about an hour on Christmas day this year. It was still hot when we carved it, and it meant that the oven was free for the potatoes, pigs in blankets, etc.
Do as much prep as you can the night before - things like potatoes, carrots, sprouts can be prepped in advance and left covered in cold water.
A good turkey can rest for a good two hours and stay piping hot, just make sure you take it out of the oven just before it is perfectly cooked. I put some silver foil over it, a couple of tea towels and leave it on the side. It makes it so tender and moist - and give a great chance for all the juices to ooze out for your gravy! After 1 3/4 hours this year our 8kg turkey was still too hot to touch when carving.
Prep is your friend here!
Peel and slice all veg the day before (then leave in cold water). You can make cranberry sauce / bread sauce / even mashed swede the day before and just reheat with lots of butter and pepper. Even make the gravy with the giblets etc the day before (get people to chip in and help peeling etc) then just reheat adding turkey juices on the day.
You will have a free oven and 4 hob spaces to roast potatoes and veg, steam / cook other veg however you choose.
I bung my serving bowls in the microwave for a minute before I dish up (!) then the food stays Warner for longer.
It is possible, I've done it a few times in a small kitchen, I've needed:
A) people to boss around
B) to have planned exactly what I'm going to cook and when / how - actually written a list. C) booze.
It can be quite stress free and enjoyable - particularly if the others clear up
Some people cook their turkey the day before, carve it and reheat in stock/gravy on the day. You could do that and reheat (covered) in the grill oven leaving the main one for the potatoes, pigs in blankets etc which are all cooked on high heat. I second the hostess trolley idea
Thanks for the tips. I'd usually let Turkey rest, but didn't realise it would stay hot for a couple of hours. Good idea about the cabbage in slow cooker too. I've always read about pre-cooking potatoes etc, but never actually done it. I'll just have to make myself a very strict plan. And stick to it, no matter how much Prosecco I have in the morning!
Now to go and find a hostess trolley....
We rested our turkey for 1.5 to 2 hours this year. Still hot and best turkey I have ever had!
I cooked for 8 this year (and last) so not as big as your intended party but more than I'm used to.
I have a blackboard in my kitchen, I wrote everything on there then worked out when each item would have to go on the hob/oven/microwave then wrote the time, crossed through when they were on.
We had dinner after Dr Who this year.
Make sure you have enough serving plates, spoons, (I use catering tongs from Costco too) your gravy boats (2+ is good) sauces, cruets.
I use a tiered steamer for vegetables (carrots and sprouts)
Do you warm your plates? (in the grill oven maybe )
My DBro precooked the turkey so we sliced and heated it in gravy.
I did vegetarian stuffing and sausagemeat stuffing (so of course there's all the "What's this" as food goes round )
Get the less mobile guests seated first (give them time to go to the loo first, 10 minute warning) then have someone doing the drinks.
Quick look at the checklist so you haven't left anything in the oven and enjoy.
I've got a heated server (a flat tray type) but I didn't think to use it this year.
Hostess trolley and think about timings. The bigger problem is seating and serving hot.
We did 22 this year.
Is anyone who's coming local? When we were students we did christmas dinner for over 20 once. The one person with a car cooked the turkey at his house and drove it round in the resting time. We, the hosts, did everything else in our cooker.
A steamer is also good because it frees up a hob and it's harder to overcook things in one. It also will keep things warm fairly well.
I've also seen advice that no one notices too much if the meat isn't that hot. Instead concentrate on using hot plates, serve piping hot gravy in a preheated jug, and make sure potatoes are warm.
Though the reheating in gravy trick really does work well.
One year one of us did the turkey overnight in the bottom oven of an Aga, 13 hours wrapped in foil then transported in foil, towels and an old duvet, 20 miles. It was the best turkey ever. That was the year it was at my house, I did everything else though. There were only 11 of us that time.
Emboldened by that, the next year I did a whole set of beef ribs, started them around 5 a.m.
to tie in with Father Christmas hanging stockings off teenagers bedposts dead slow oven, out around 9 a.m., wrapped up in foil and old towels. I made the gravy while consuming the first really decent cup of tea of the day then moved onto sherry...
DP then drove me, children, the joint and the gravy over to the sister who was providing the actual venue.
Another sister brought pudding - Christmas pud, a meringue thing, cream and ice cream.
Third sister brought prepped up sprouts etc.
Our mum brought smoked salmon and blinis.
MIL brought mince pies.
It was splendid and worked perfectly. Sixteen very happy adults and children.
Make a spreadsheet or write a plan.
Make a list of everything you want to cook, how long it takes at what temperature and what dish or pan it would go in.
Assume you'll eat at 12- don't panic when this says your turkey needs to go in at some ungodly hour like 3am, once you have all the relative timings you can just push everything later.
If your turkey is going to rest for a good length of time you can assume the oven is clear for the rest.
Work out what goes in where and when- so can you do 1 oven shelf with trays of potatoes, the other with sausages and then use the grill as an oven to cook stuffing? Or could you grill sausages?
If you can't fit something in can it be cooked in another way? So could you steam or boil carrots rather than roasting?
What are the priorities? Do you need stuffing or would you rather use the space for ething else.
Once you gave the timings you can move the times of everything so long as all the times are moved the samended amount.
I have a set of three vacuum casserole dishes with lids which I find brilliant for keeping veg hot. As long as you heat the casseroles with boiling water beforehand, they will keep veg hot for ages. They work best with things like red cabbage so you can cook that in advance, reheat and then stick in this casserole at least an hour before you need it so you free up a ring on the hob for something else. Sprouts, carrots and parsnips also work well. The only thing I wouldn't put in them is roast potatoes which don't stay crispy. I bought mine on Amazon for about £15 for the three.
Usually 20 odd of us and I rest the turkey for at least an hour under foil and tea towels while the roast potatoes, parsnips (and other roast veg), stuffings and chipolatas are in the oven. Also gives you plenty of time to transform the dribbles in the roasting pan into scrumptious gravy.
I usually do two meats; Turkey +1. If a ham then I cook it the day before, if a lamb leg then I cook it with wine and garlic in the slow cooker.
Veg: greens (esp sprouts) must be freshly cooked and roast potatoes must be fluffy and crispy: these are the two elements to time the dinner by:
red cabbage, mashed potato, slow cooked carrots can all the done in advance and just reheated. Other roast veg are more time-fluid than the potatoes and can be kept warm more easily.
If it takes a full 10 mins to get everything out to the table it doesn't matter. Everything will be hot enough under a lid or foil until you are ready for the 'reveal'.
You can dazzle a crowd with the simplest cooked elements (keep it simple for your own sanity) but lots of scrumptious trimmings: port and cranberry sauce, bread sauce, several stuffings, pigs in blankets etc are what make the meal more special than a normal sunday lunch.
With a double oven and grilling microwave, 4 rings and a wok burner this is definitely possible. If you struggled with the organisation this year do consider borrowing a hostess trolley to free you up a little, although simplification and practice will make you more confident for next year.
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