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Winter festival meal experts - can I do this?

(12 Posts)
annandale Tue 29-May-18 19:42:10

Suppose ds and I did not do any meal prep on Christmas eve and then rolled up at my inlaws' on Christmas day at 12 aiming to get Christmas lunch on the table by 2 - can it be done?

I'm thinking the pudding is fine if you microwave it: potatoes
Parsnips/carrots parboiled and stored ?in water for two days: some sort of bird maybe spatchcocked so it cooks quicker: green veg and sauces done between 12 and 2? I think it just about works?

milkysmum Tue 29-May-18 19:51:22

Heck it's early to be thinking about Christmas dinner!

TheWoollybacksWife Wed 30-May-18 01:40:16

When you say no prep in advance do you just mean Christmas Eve prep? If that is the case and you can do some stuff earlier in December and then shove it in the freezer until Christmas Day then I think two hours would be plenty.

You can prepare your roasties in advance and freeze them. I don't do this but there are plenty of instructions online.

I parboil carrots and parsnips and freeze - just bung them in a little hot oil and roast for half an hour. Finish with a squeeze of honey.

Blanch sprouts and freeze. Defrost on the day and then stir fry with pancetta.

You can make gravy ahead of time and freeze.

I do a bag of microwave mixed veg as well. Saves on hob space and peeling and chopping time.

Some sort of rolled turkey/duck/goose breast would cook in that time. Depending on how many you are feeding you could buy two smaller ones to cook quicker than one big one.

Definitely microwave the pudding.

The difficult bit is remembering to take stuff out of the freezer grin

ziggiestardust Wed 30-May-18 14:34:27

Definitely microwave the pudding.

Last year on 23rd, I peeled and boiled all my veg (I oven roast all veg except the sprouts), covered them in olive oil and salt and then poured them into ziplock bags. I then sealed the bags leaving a tiny gap in the zip to poke a straw in, and sucked all the air out to form a vacuum, removing the straw and sealing the rest of the bag afterwards obviously.

They then sat in the veg drawer of my fridge quite happily. On the big day, I put them onto baking trays and roasted them. The sprouts got pinged in the microwave. The roast potatoes and parsnips were absolutely GORGEOUS, probably the best I’ve produced on Christmas Day and I feel it was because I felt relaxed on both prep day and Christmas Day and I felt in control and able to take my time.

ALL I do on the day is the meat, but Nigella says you can roast the meat the day before, carve it up and as long as you pour boiling hot gravy over the top, no one will notice the meat is actually room temp (I’d imagine you’d refrigerate it overnight and then bring it up to room temp on the morning of).

I’d absolutely recommend prepping in this way regardless. It gives you the kind of time and flexibility on Christmas Morning I had previously had when we’d gone out to eat some years.

annandale Wed 30-May-18 17:44:28

Thank you all.

Yes I know it's beyond early but I want to do a combination of travel I've never done before and the family sensitivities are really intense this year. I must not sign up to something I can't actually do.

ziggiestardust Wed 30-May-18 22:36:37

OP you’re posting on the Christmas topic; it doesn’t matter if it’s a bit early. Not everyone has the luxury of time and money together at Christmas, we have to start prepping early!

Hope everything works out for you. Have you given consideration to eating out instead? That often works out quite well in years when dynamics are sensitive.

annandale Wed 30-May-18 22:40:54

I would actually like to eat out but my mother in law has dementia that is progressing quite fast. She finds eating out a bit confusing now and needs a lot of reassurance, and my father in law finds it really uncomfortable - I don't think it would work for them now.

ziggiestardust Wed 30-May-18 23:12:32

Oh dear; I am sorry to hear that OP sad

I should also say that a few years ago I did the entire meal from M&S all ready done. Just whipped off the cellophane lids and popped it all in the oven. Was absolutely delicious and not as expensive as I’d previously imagined.

NoWordForFluffy Thu 31-May-18 06:29:41

Actually, M&S is a good shout. Pre-order, collect, throw into oven on day. Done!

I can imagine it will be a tough Christmas this year. flowers for you and your family.

Lorrainethebitch Fri 01-Jun-18 23:13:52

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Annwithnoe Sat 02-Jun-18 08:50:53

I think it depend on how much you want to do from scratch and what shortcuts you’re prepared to take. M&S is one way, but expensive. Most supermarkets do prepped carrots and parsnips all year round, or you could buy frozen and just add herbs and spices. You can get roaasties, Brussels sprouts, cabbage all frozen. Just pack in a cool box or wrap well in newspaper and towels.

Another option would be to buy roast dinners from the supermarket fridge section (turkey, ham, veg, mash, roastie, stuffing and gravy) and pop them in the oven when you arrive. Takes patience to plate them up nicely. They’re about £3-£5 each.

Think the meal through carefully with a view to what would be cooking, when. How many hob rings? What size is the oven? One oven or two? Etc.

What basic equipment might you need that you take for granted in your own kitchen but they might not have? Last time I cooked in my mother’s i brought

Multi pack of kitchen roll, my sharp knives, wooden spoons, chopping boards, garlic press, store cupboard basics (olive oil, herbs, spices, garlic, flour, fresh herbs) oven gloves, extra tea towels, and some oven dishes.

She has her own stuff obviously, but her knives aren’t quite sharp, it’s easier and quicker under pressure to have my own stuff, and some of her basics can be out of date as she doesn’t cook much anymore.

You don’t need to have to start scalding dishes or equipment on the day if housekeeping standards have slipped (which is understandable obviously- no judgement)

I’d say two hours is tight, but not impossible. You could bring some snacks or canapés to eat at 12, just to give you a bit more time so people aren’t starving at 2 if you’re not quite finished.
I cook the turkey and leave to rest, covered in bath towels for a minimum of half an hour while I cook potatoes, gravy and veg. That would only give you an hour and a half in the oven. At 15 mins per lb for a fully defrosted, unstuffed bird, is that enough?

You probably already know this but don’t part cook a turkey, travel and finish it off later. It has to be cooked fully in one go, though you can reheat it later.

Lastly, have you much experience cooking roast dinners? If you haven’t do a few between now and December.

BiddyPop Wed 13-Jun-18 11:08:49

Are you used to the ILs kitchen, particularly the cooker?

And as someone else said, are you used to doing roast dinners?

If yes to both, it should be straightforward enough.

Smaller joints, boned and rolled or spatchcocked, should cook in that time. Get the meat in as SOON as you arrive in the house.

You could have the veg prepped and parboiled, and either laid out on roasting tins or in large IKEA (other brands are available!) food storage bags (I like Ikea as they are Ziploc, and the large ones are 6l capacity so great for family-sized amounts of veg etc - I often use them to marinate meat or have veg prepped to just tip out onto trays).

Even just prepping the veg and potatoes on 23rd is fine, leaving soaking in water until 25th. Change the water on 24th though (do you have 3 minutes to do that much prep?).
Or parboil and toss in oil/seasonings, and leave in Ziploc bag in fridge on 23rd, leaving even less prep/cooking to do on 25th.

Regular bisto gravy, with any juices from the meat (and a good slug of wine if your family would like that), would be relatively simple to make on the day. Or you could make the gravy in advance, slightly thicker than you'd like, store in fridge and add juices when reheating.

Pudding could be microwaved, or even steamed if you have a spare ring available, in that time frame (don't forget, you get the extra half hour or more while you eat starter/main for that to finish).

Do you want a starter? A pot of soup might be nice and something that could be done in advance, with part baked bread rolls to throw into the oven when you turn up the heat to get roasties crisp as the meat comes out a few minutes before serving.
Or smoked salmon with brown bread and some cherry tomatoes and lemon wedges - get ready-sliced salmon.
Or make the filling ahead of time to reheat on the stove for vol-au-vents, and buy frozen vol-au-vent shells, to pop into the oven when the meat comes out.
Or just some nice M&S canapes/party food, either to serve cold or to throw in for the last few minutes (again - when the meat comes out to rest). Maybe a few cold nibbles might be handy to have anyway to take some pressure off the cook.

In terms of kitchen stuff, does MIL have the right number and size of pots for your plans, enough knives of the right size and level of sharpness, peeler, oven gloves, whisk, carving set, serving dishes and cutlery, wooden spoons, jcloths, tea towels, aprons, roasting tins (large enough for a family joint, or more than 1 for veg etc as well) and other baking trays (part baked bread or canapes or dessert items?) etc? Does she keep rolls of kitchen towel, tin foil, cling film that you can use, or should you bring these bits with you?
What seasonings or other ingredients that you regularly use (and would likely use on the day) does MIL either not have or not use regularly (so use-by dates may be, um, suspect?), or you are more comfortable with your own dispensers - that you might want to bring from home? Salt and pepper, olive oil, gravy powder, any herbs or spices you want, cup of brandy for the pudding, .....

Think through your menu in general, and then lay it out in detail to see exactly what ingredients you need, and whether you need them at home for prepping, or at MILs for cooking. And also the tools etc you'll need.
Then do your lists, including a master list of everything you need to bring with you. That should make it easier to pack everything up ahead of time.
If you are bringing cold stuff, do you want ice blocks from the freezer for a cool bag?
Does MIL normally have ice for drinks, should you make some in those "freezer bags" for making ice, to bring with you, or buy a bag and have that in your own freezer to bring?

Can you have anything in her house ahead of time - whether ingredients or utensils? Does she have freezer space to put a few things into in the days/weeks beforehand (like par boiled potatoes, ice cream, ice and sliced lemons for drinks, all sorts)?

Or is it a case of literally bringing everything yourselves on the day?

(The sliced lemons is a trick I learned a while back - we only ever tend to use 2 so wasted loads, so now I slice a whole lemon, freeze any spare slices flat on a tray, bag them up once frozen, and when needed, throw them straight from the freezer into drinks where they are perfect - and saves an icecube as well!).

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