Prepare ahead veg- an idiot'guide...(16 Posts)
I'm a competent cook and the past two years have cooked for about 12 at our house (DH does meats, I sort all the other stuff). As DC get older (no longer tiny oblivious babies), I want to spend less time in the kitchen. So...
What do you prepare ahead and how? Last year I made and froze Yorkshire Puddings which weren't as 'fresh'/crispy tasting but not a huge difference by the time they were covered in gravy. I often read about people doing roast potatoes etc in advance but how? Do you fully roast then freeze or just par boil then freeze? How long do you then cook them for if frozen? Do they not go soggy? What do you store them in in the freezer? Ha! I really need an idiots guide!
I par boil for 7 minutes, then fluff up in a colander, sprinkle with flour and allow to cool spread out on a baking tray. Then I freeze them like that on the baking tray. Once frozen I bag them up.
On the day, roast from frozen for about 45 minutes.
Talking- thank you. Do you just use plain flour, how long can you keep them in the freezer for and would you add any glaze to veg before/after freezing (e.g. honey on parsnips)?
Yes plain flour. I usually do the potatoes in November. I've not done veg before so no idea sorry.
Thank you. I have taken a screens hot to remind me.
I've never pre-cooked anything but I have absolutely everything prepared before Christmas Day. That means Turkey ready to go straight in the oven, all veg peeled, chopped and in pan they'll be cooked in, stuffing mixed, pigs in blankets wrapped. Then on Christmas Day it all goes in the oven. If you're short of fridge space leave the veg out and turn the heating off in your kitchen overnight. It'll soon warm up with the oven on the next day.
I buy certain things like parsnips and gravy. If people don't like it they can eat somewhere else.
I have a smaller oven this year so going to try out cooking roast potatoes, pigs in blankets and maybe parsnips the day before and reheating. I recommend buying a really fresh turkey as they don't take long to cook.
Another option would be to eat the big roast on Christmas Eve to free up Christmas Day for having fun and eating junk.
the celebrations start here on Christmas Eve...with the veg prep! And the cooking of The Gammon
Everyone in the house joins in, and the drinking commences
I don't pre do anything for the freezer, it really is not as nice imo, but everything for Christmas Lunch is left ready to cook
so Pigs in Blankets are rolled and into an ovenproof dish
carrots, peeled and batons,
sprouts, peeled and crossed
tatties, peeled and cut for roasts, big ones left for mash
parsnips peeled quartered, par boiled, covered
cheesey leeks, sauteed, drowned in cream and cheese and into the fridge
The carrots/cabbage/sprouts are set into the steamer baskets covered with a damp cloth
Tatties into a pan of water...freshen water in the morning, par boil, fih out the cut ones for roasties and leave the big ones in to finish
roasties and parsnips in to roast
cheesey leeks and piggies only need half an hour
If i was doing yorkies I'd do the batter and rest it in the fridge.
Depending on quantity and fridge space the pans might be out in the utility or the shed or even on one of the garden tables if it is really cold out
Then it's just a production line...get the oven on asap on Christmas Morning....cook the meat, we usually have a minimum of turkey and pork, if dh has been lucky in the reduced section there may be other joints!
Meat is rested over the range and then stuff gets banged into the oven with the estiated eating time of two ish or so.
Loving the ideas - especially cheesy creamy leeks, yum. We don't tend to buy things as £££ and none of our visiting family contribute to cost of food and drink (other than my lovely vegetarian mum who buys the turkey) and this year there'll be 14.
My local farm shop sells frozen veg chopped up separately (ie broccoli florets) that you can go and scoop into a bag as much as you want. I have never used it so I don't know if it is superior to the sort of frozen veg you can buy in the supermarket, but my hunch it's probably pretty good because everything they sell is good quality.
Maybe worth experimenting with in advance and using if it's any good.
I do a lot in November/early December
Potatoes - parboil 10 mins, dry, shake up and cool quickly. Freeze on baking tray and out in bag when frozen. I don't add flour but I do cook in goose fat which I find makes them very crispy.
I sometimes prepare carrots and parsnips in the same way although Aunt Bessie's frozen parsnips are actually preferred by my family.
I either buy frozen Brussels or cook the fresh ones the day before until nearly done and then put in the fridge, cut in half. On Christmas Day I put them in a pan to heat with a spoonful of cream and some chestnuts . Also very nice if you shred them and add pancetta and cream.
Mid December I make red cabbage - cook up the cabbage with onion, butter, spices, vinegar, Apple and sugar and simmer for an hour on very low heat. Put in Kilner jar in fridge when cold and keeps for about a week.
I make bread sauce in advance as well and either freeze or put in fridge.
Yorkshire puddings - I make the batter on Christmas Eve and then put in the oven.
Since having small kids we have the Christmas big meal in the evening. Means I can spend the morning seeing them open presents and don't miss out. At lunch time we have part baked rolls with gammon (cooked in slow cooker) and a few other nibbles followed by mince pies/Christmas cake - the things you can never fit in otherwise! Lunch is a "party" style with crackers and festive paper plates so I can just bin the lot afterwards with no clearing up - kids love it!
Usually make own piggies as well but bought lidls frozen ones last year for an early Christmas buffet and they were so nice (and cheap!) that we used them Christmas Day as well!
Just a note on the family not contributing. Can you contact them and say due to wanting to spend more time with the children can couple A bring xmas pud, couple B bring trifle, family C bring stuffing and pigs in blankets etc.
I prepare Delia's Parmesan Parsnips in advance - put in foil tray in the freezer - then bung in the oven from frozen as the roast potatoes go in.
I make red cabbage and either leave in the fridge (for a day or 2) or freeze and just reheat on the day.
I also peel and prep such things as carrots and sprouts on Xmas eve and leave in plastic bags in the fridge.
Just a quick tip here, I buy those tin foil baking tins, all the same size so they fit inside each other IFSWIM. Them do one with a layer of par-boiled chopped carrots, one with spuds, etc, let everything cool, stack on top of each other, then freeze in one big pile if your freezer is big enough. Once you need to use them, get them out, defrost, cook in the tins then throw the tins away, saves on lots of washing up!
I've never done potatoes from frozen but I do prepare my veg and stuffing in advance.
We have roasted honey glazed carrots and parsnips - cut into large even sized chunks and blanch in boiling water. Drain and cool quickly in cold water. Freeze in bags. Tip into a roasting tray and cook adding a bit of butter and honey for the last ten minutes or so.
I part cook sprouts and cool in the same way. Then shred them and freeze. These are reheated in a frying pan with a bit of butter and pancetta.
DS will only eat parsnips and broccoli so I buy a microwaveable bag and ding it while I'm putting everything in serving dishes at the end.
I make my own stuffing from sautéed finely chopped onion, breadcrumbs, sage, salt, pepper and sausage meat. I cook it in a loaf tin lined with a paper liner and freeze it still in the liner and wrapped in foil. I defrost it on Christmas morning and put it in the oven still wrapped in foil/liner. I serve it in slices.
I've often made and frozen either breadcrumbs or complete stuffing.
Cauliflower cheese is fine if the sauce is a little thicker than normal and the cauliflower still a little "al dente" (has a bite) - defrost, scatter over some grated cheddar, pop in the oven once the turkey is out and it heats through perfectly.
I generally though don't freeze my veg in advance. I prep them all on Christmas Eve (DH and I are peeling and chopping together) and leave them soaking in cold water overnight. Roast potatoes, roasted root veg, cauliflower cheese maybe, sometimes some peas for DD (frozen petits pois) - no need to stand over the stove for hours. Pop them in at suitable intervals, stand making gravy for 10 minutes just before serving, and enjoy plenty of time with a glass of bubbles all opening parcels together while the oven does it's thing.
Lots of the Christmas magazines will give instructions for things to prep in advance including freezing, and timings for Christmas Day cooking as well.
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