To be worried about Xmas and cooking for 12 people(52 Posts)
So I am to be cooking my first big Xmas dinner. I have cooked Xmas dinner before but never past me and ds1 and ds2.
In exactly 10 days I have too cook for, dh myself, ds1 (17) ds2(16) ss1 (17) sd(16) ss2 (13). Sister in law, brother in law, there two teenage sons and teenage daughter.
Oh plus two 2 years old but they don't count, cause they won't eat the main meal.
Help how am I going to do it, a family with many fussy eaters.
You need a list. You can borrow mine if you like. This is what I do with aprox times when cooking for lots at Christmas.
Prep all veg
whilst drinking large glass of wine and whilst dh wraps presents
7.45 am oven on
8.00 turkey in oven wrapped in bacon.
11.45 roasting dishes in oven to heat oil
12 noon turkey out of oven to rest, potatoes in oven.
12.15 carrots and parsnips in oven
12.30 potatoes on hob (for mash) pigs in blankets and stuffing in top oven
12.45 sprouts on hob to cook dh carve turkey while I make homemade gravy
1pm serve in serving dishes.
It's the sheer number of people that's making me panic.
You'll be fine- it's just a big roast.
I tend to make a lot ahead (stuffing, bread sauce, cranberry) and freeze. Or you can just buy these things ready made.
Then it's just about being organised on timings. Decide when you want to eat, give your turkey an hour to rest then count back for when it needs to go in. An hour's rest also means you can whack the oven temp up for your potatoes.
Also delegate! Especially dull things like peeling potatoes.
I cook for 15 every year. A large gin and tonic is honestly a massive help. I have one while I am cooking and I am quite the expansive hostess. I'm not a drinker normally but this specific drink has a brilliant calming effect on me!
I might have forgotten to add the bottle of wine that disappears during my timetable
I would make sure there is plenty of food and plenty of wine and all will be fine.
I have already made my gravy using Jamie Oliver's get ahead gravy recipe and it is in my freezer. I have also made pigs in blankets and frozen them and will probably make some stuffing and freeze that too.
I agree with PP about having a plan, all of the good cooks have Christmas books with a timing plan in them and it will help you come up with your own.
Don't forget that the meat can rest covered with tin foil for much longer than you would think.
Par boil your roasties, peel carrots and sprouts, set the table and get serving dishes out the night before. Buy in sauces and desserts. If you're bothering with a starter make a soup now and freeze ahead and buy pate. Get someone else to bring a pudding and cheese. You'll be fine. It's just a big Sunday lunch.
Also make sure you dish out jobs for people. Teenagers can help peel carrots and potatoes, lay the table etc.
Give someone the job of making sure everyone has a drink.
Warm the dishes and use serving dishes to put food in, then everyone can help themselves.
try to stick to a rough time for serving dinner but don't worry if it goes over.
My tip is buy as much as you can pre prepared. You can buy really good quality gravy, cranberry sauce, bread sauce etc. Don't waste your time making that stuff. The homemade version won't taste that much better, the cost of ingredients often is more than the ready made version and it will make a mess of your kitchen you'll have to spend ages clearing up!
Do a lot the night before, all the veg etc.
You can make stuffing, pigs and blankets etc. days before. You can also buy very nice ones days before, stick them in the freezer and cook from frozen. (Check the cooking instructions)
portion stuff out......so I have decided on my menu par boiled and frozen my potatoes, parsnips and celeraic puree. I set them out into portion sizes, so i know I have enough and a few left over.
Make sure you have enough oven trays and they are as large as possible to go in your oven. Plan where you will put stuff in the oven ......how many trays can you accomodate - so can carrots be baked or do they need to be steamed?
Get everything out and ready the day before....make sticky notes/ a plan....add to it and then do a timetable for Christmas Day.
Plenty of wine and nibbles then noone cares that dinner is delayed by an hour because you ........
Don't panic ! Do as much as you can the night before, and use pre prepped if you want . If it won't drive you nuts , then delegate . Me, I prefer to be left the hell alone with my timetable and the sherry bottle , because it gives me some peace and quiet while I pretend to be peeling potatoes , but whatever works for you . Use the timetable as a rough guide , but don't fret if everything isn't done to the minute . No one will notice if they get dinner at 1.39 instead of 1.15 .
Get someone else to sort any kids ,and the table . And it sounds mad , but try to enjoy it ! And get all the others to sort the washing up while you veg out on the sofa .
I have 36 people for Christmas Eve. Doing a full roast. I have a plan.
It doesn't matter if it messes up, they love me and expect slight dodginess because of the scale and the fact that I will be drinking throughout. Have a plan. Do your best but Dont sweat it.
Only invite people who you want there who will muck in towards the end to bring it together.
Pre make and cheat is way to go. Don't try to be perfect and accept offers of help. Use timings above as guide.
Bread sauce -make, freeze, microwave.
Gravy make day before from Knorr gravy pot and reheat on day.
Do all veg prep before.
I cook roasties day before until pale golden and then finish off on day. Improves them if anything.
Veg I do cauliflower cheese, roast carrots and parsnips, mashed swede - all done a couple of days ahead. Then just sprouts and chestnuts and peas on day. I use vacuum packed chestnuts. You could reduce the number of veg if you know what people like. Frozen ready to warm Yorkshire puddings always go down well too -despite not usually being served with Turkey.
Pudding I microwave and have brought Brandy butter, double cream and homemade mince pies. Also vanilla ice cream.
I always do smoked salmon as starter as this occupies people and reduces last minute stress of people waiting. I give kids melon if they don't like salmon.
If you use foil trays there is less washing up. A turkey crown is easier to carve and has less waste.
I'm doing for, I think 24 so they will have to be grateful for what I serve. I've had a few disasters over the years but nobody minds.
We set the table on days in advance - literally everything, condiments, crackers, plates. All the chairs out (or guests asked to bring their own).
Does the fussy eating include non turkey (or whatever main you are serving) eaters? If not then do a range of vegetables that can be prepared in advanced and then either baked at the same heat as the potatoes or microwaved. I have cauliflower cheese and red cabbage made up and frozen already (in foil dishes that can go straight into the oven) for example. If I'm cooking then I'll have the potatoes and other root veggies partly roasted the day before (a Mary Berry suggestion) so they just get whacked in the over at full heat after the meat comes out. If dh is cooking he likes to do it all on the same day.
For so many people I'd mainly be worried about volume, so figuring out how many potatoes etc each person is likely to eat and how to fit them into the oven. Try taking your roasting dishes and see how many fit in at once to help your planning. Foil roasting trays are good for no washing up, but also because they are even sizes (and can be squished into shape a bit).
Last year boxing day I cooked for 50-60 people, trust me, you can do 12, you just need good preparation, do as much as you can the day before including all desserts etc and make sure house is cleaned the day before too so all you have to do on the day is pop the stuff in the oven and mostly to heat stuff up. Prepare the turkey etc the night before plus all the veg etc. It's doable but make enough so you have lots of leftovers for the next day, you will not want to be cooking again for a while!!! Good luck OP and all those doing Xmas lunch /dinner this year, I'm off to my Parents for this Xmas!!! No way I'm doing that to myself again!! X
I have never had to cook for a crowd, but I have read about people who pre-cook the turkey and make the gravy a day or two ahead, then cut up the turkey and then reheat sliced turkey in the gravy on the day. Can't guarantee the results.
Definitely do as much as possible ahead. I always do my roast potatoes weeks ahead because trying to parboil enough roasties for 15 people on Christmas Day isn't fun. So orepare and parboil them this weekend, and put them in the freezer. They will cook from frozen. You can also do red cabbage this weekend and freeze it. Ditto pigs in blankets and stuffing balls. I make the gravy ahead and feeze, but do remember to take it out of the feeezer on Christmas Eve to defrost.
Then buy a good quality Christmas pudding for dessert.
The less you have to do on Christmas Day the better.
I would let your OH do it- mostly his family anyway and he will understand their fussiness better than you.
You can set the table, put out the crackers and have a glass of wine.
All chefs will tell you to cook everything on Christmas eve (or even before) except veg.
Lidl do frozen roast potatoes and parsnips in goose fat. They are lovely, and more reliable than my own roasties. Gravy, stuffing and pigs in blankets can be made ahead and frozen.
I serve a starter, because that gives me time to cook the roast potatoes when everything else is done.
When the turkey comes out to rest under towels, the roasties, stuffing, sausages go in and we eat starters.
Choose veg recipes that won't overcook- I do leeks or cauli/broccoli in cheese sauce in the oven (prepared ahead, put in with the potatoes), mashed sweet potato, sprouts cooked until soft and crushed a bit with cream and chestnuts. They can sit around a bit, no harm done.
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