How do you cook everything at Christmas?(81 Posts)
Hi I am loving reading threads about those of you that are cooking for 20 people etc and I guess sometimes people will bring food with them.
But. I struggle cooking a normal roast dinner for 6 and finding enough space or layers in the oven for roast potatoes, the mean amd parsnips. Any advice or tip?
I'm so excited about xmas!
Get the meat done at least an hour before everything else needs to be done. If it's a turkey it will happily sit and rest for a good hour or more - wrap it in tinfoil. It's much easier to carve once rested, in any case. Then you have an hour plus to get potatoes in and whatever else.
And make a schedule the day before - so at 10.15 this happens, at 11 that happens. Start from the time you want to eat and work backwards - it means you don't have to fret about timing on the day.
Having a big turkey makes it easier at Xmas.
I took it out about 1 1/4 hours before everything else was eaten so it could rest. It was covered in foil and then had a clean towel wrapped over it to keep it warm.
Freed up my over to fit in everything else and the turkey was piping hot when we carved it up.
And make a schedule the day before - so at 10.15 this happens, at 11 that happens
Definitely do this, it really helped last year.
Ham done night before and served cold...Brussels and carrots cooked on hob and set aside to warm in microwave...only potatoes and roasted bits in oven to concentrate on..
I've got a Range cooker so a big main oven and a tall narrower side over. I've also become lazy about roast potatoes and shove them in with the meat.
Prepare as much as you can the day before. Peel veg and put in water, stuff turkey, cover in butter and bacon etc. Cover on foil and back in the fridge.
Set the table also on Christmas Eve.
Make a schedule but start at the time you want to eat at the bottom of a page and make boxes of 15 or 30 min time slots.
So eat at 2.00pm
In the 1.00pm box write turkey out)
1.30pm veg on etc egc
1.00pm roasts in
1.45pm pigs in blankets etc
Fill the sheet with the relevant information.
I plan things I can start a day or two before, do for example a soup or paté starter and vegetarian main I can make on the 23rd and 24th. Things that need parboiling like the carrots and potatoes - I parboil them the evening before, roast them in the morning and then do a short 2nd roast whilst the meat is resting. Pudding is always chosen with prep in mind, so that on the day itself all I have to deal with is the meat and gravy, and warming things up.
Last year I did a chicken (not big turkey fans), a ham and veg. On Christmas Eve I made pate for the starters, mince pies, braised red cabbage and carrot and swedemashed up so on Christmas day there was really only the meat, roast is and sprouts to do fresh. As pp say I cooked the chicken and let it rest for ages, boiled the ham so it just needed the glaze finishing in the oven. Meat can rest whilst you cook the roasties It does really help to have a side oven though!
Oh, and I send EVERYONE out for a two hour dog walk whatever the weather so I can pull everything together uninterrupted!
I have a double oven - one big oven and one small oven/grill, which means I have three shelves to cook on altogether.
We always have a turkey crown which I time to finish cooking around an hour before we eat and keep it warm before carving. Then I have plenty of room to cook the pigs in blankets, cauliflower cheese, parsnips, roasties and stuffing.
As for veg, I cook some the night before, put in a microwavable dish, put small knobs of butter over the veg once cold, cover in cling film and put in the fridge. Then the following day I can just prick the cling film and whack it in the microwave. The little bits of butter stops the veg from drying out.
Plan what goes in each saucepan and serving dish....with post-it's if necessary. I pulled them all out of the cupboard and worked out what went where, and which hob ring/ oven shelf each thing went on. Massive faff but if you figure it out once it gets very simple after that.
Prep veg and potatoes
Cook turkey then while its resting
Finish ham in oven
Then while ham is resting
Turn up the oven and cook the potatoes
Use a big swimming towel to cover the turkey (not tea towels like it says in the fancy cookbooks!)
It's not just for convenience that you rest the meat: a roast tastes much better after resting. But make sure it's cooked through properly (use a meat thermometer)
Apologies for linking to the Fail but there's a good article on what to make ahead and freeze that also helps here
Definitely use a time table! Work backwards from when you want to eat.
And practice on the roast dinners over the next few weekends and you'll be a dab hand by christmas!
I think (if I remember correctly) that both Nigella and Delia include Christmas dinner cooking schedules in their books.
I am potentially cooking and hosting for 12 this year (to be confirmed). I'm not as much worried about Christmas dinner itself (my sisters and I will be sharing the prep) I am more worried about the logistics of providing breakfast lunch and dinner for 12 over four days! I think the dw will be on permanently!
A roast is relatively easy with lots that can be made ahead and heated. Bread sauce, gravy, cranberry sauce, stuffing, cauliflower cheese, brandy butter all made during preceding week.
I part roast potatoes the day before so that I can clear away greasy pan and just finish off on day. Big turkey keeps warm resting.
I microwave the Christmas pudding, which I make in October. Mince pies are made ahead and frozen thevrewarmed.
I use foil trays to line roasting pans and so reduce washing up. Fairy power washing up spray helps too.
Meant to add that I prefer guests not to bring a dish as it's harder to plan space to heat things up/ serving dish etc., not to mention the scramble when they forget.
We have our traditional meal on Christmas Eve which means I get to enjoy Christmas Day with the family rather than being stuck in the kitchen. So much more relaxing and enjoyable.
If your main oven has a timer function, use that. Put the turkey (minus stuffing, but prepped) straight from the fridge into the oven before you go to bed. Calculate weight of your bird per pound cooking time, and then set timer to start very early morning. By the time you get out of bed, the turkey will be cooked or just about ready for you to baste. This will free up your oven for the golden loveliness that are the roast potatoes etc. It will mean your bird gets plenty of time to rest, and seal those all important juices in.
Agree with all the PP's. Prep veg the night before, as well as the stuffing. Then all you have to do is concentrate on the timings of the sides.
And most importantly, make sure you hydrate yourself well with a nice glass of fizz whilst you are doing it all!
Like Sandycarrots, I find the cooking stress over Christmas is less about the actual Christmas dinner and more about feeding large numbers of people over several days - the sheer volume of food you need to store and then remember where you've put it if you have 12+ people milling around for 3 or 4 days is overwhelming.
I don't like microwaved Christmas pudding, but have found it steams brilliantly in the slow cooker. Just put a bit of boiling water in the bottom, pud in, lid on and forget about it for a few hours. Doesn't take up a space on your hob or fill the kitchen with steam, in fact I put mine in the utility room to free up space on the worktop.
I've also known people use their slow cookers for the gravy or for red cabbage.
Genuine questions (not being snippy):
For those of you that prep or parboil root veg day before, do they not discolour?
And how do you prep gravy in advance? Surely you need the juices from the turkey on the day? (I pre-prep chicken stock for gravy but that's as far as I get.)
Root veg doesn't discolour, no. I coat my carrots and parsnips with orange, honey and thyme so they are all browned and delicious when they are done anyway but I've never noticed and discolouring.
Xmas eve - prepare soup and peel and prep veg to be put in cold water and kept in fridge overnight. Prep turkey also.
Xmas morning - turkey in oven. Take it out one hour before meal is due to be served and wrap in foil with clean towel on top to rest. Roast potatoes and parsnips to go in oven and at some point, pigs in blankets.
I bought a three tier steamer about 10 years ago and thoroughly recommend! Use this for carrots, Brussels and new potatoes. Make up gravy on hob.
Desserts provided by guests. Jobs a good un!
Re pre-prepping gravy - I'm not usually much of a Jamie fan but his Get ahead gravy recipe is a revelation. I leave out the star anise now though - it does tend to dominate a bit - but otherwise it's lovely, and then you can just top it up with the meat juices on the day.
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