tried & tested prepare in advance Xmas food(18 Posts)
We offered to have Christmas at ours this year ( 8 adults, 3 children), but that was before we knew we were having twins (who will be 3 months then).
I know there are loads of books / recipes etc for things you can prepare in advance for the Christmas dinner but have any of you tried them (and would recommend them)? Is there a certain chef / book / website? We haven't really got the time or money to do a mock run so would love to hear about anything you've had success with.
Should add, is there anything that really is best doing fresh? For example, I've tried freezing Yorkshire Puddings in the past but they always seemed a bit sad and saggy when I defrosted them.
what sort of family do you have? do they care if it comes out of a packet as long as everyone is together and enjoying themselves? mine are pretty easy so i buy custard in cartons, mincepies, christmas pudding, cheese/biscuits to make it look like i care, cranberry sauce. i use gravy granules, but would buy pre done gravy if not. frozen veg. also nice icecream.
things i put more effort into are nice turkey (normally cooked in double layer of foil so you only have to baste for last 30 mins - i'll give u recipe if u wish) and more recently turkey crown which is easier still in bag which goes in oven from waitrose. we also have cauliflower cheese and home made stuffing (jamies recipe).
table has a bit of work on it - ie laid out night before with christmas cloth/napkins/crakcers.
make sure you put your food order in very early - as soon as slots become available - i've done mine already.
some years if we are in the mood the kids make a christmas log or cheesecake - but the latter can be easily bought. good to have a few frozen deserts you can russle up if needs be - you can end up with lots of waste if you aren't careful. we never bother with starter - everyone gets too full anyway
Thanks for the reply. My mum always cooks from scratch so we have a lot to live up to!
We're out Christmas eve so looking for things to do a couple of days ahead/ to freeze. We don't bother with starters so that's something and I'm not worried about pudding as I normally bring that so have a few things I've done before that I can do on Christmas eve after kids in bed. It's more the main I'm worried about as I normally cook fresh.
Great idea about setting the table. Also, with the Jamie recipes, do you make in advance and freeze?
My mum usually does:
While I don't necessarily want to replicate that, I want to keep some of it. I defo want to do:
Pigs in blankets
Any other ideas?
In terms of cooking/ reheating I have: a big slow cooker, a microwave, 4 hobs, 2 ovens.
I usually have 8-10 people - I make my own, old family recipe , stuffing, and freeze it , just take it out day before and heat up in microwave- (even though we don't have turkey ) I get sprouts/potatoes/ carrots prepped day before- -( just peeled, not cut up ) i cover with water in a bowl or pan/ cling film and put in the fridge. Remember to change the water before you cook them.Things like leeks and parsnips best the same day. We don't eat turkey as DH hates it but usually have slow cooked pork done overnight, and then taken out to keep warm ( will keep for up to an hour if somewhere warm ) which frees the oven for a sirloin . Hope it goes well!
I have a few Xmas cookbooks, and I love them a lot. The best for advance prep is of course, St. Delia! She has lots of lovely recipes, and tells you exactly what could can prepare in advance, and at what stage, and how you'd freeze it, for example.
I always make her red cabbage well in adadvance, and it freezes beautifully. Ive also happily pre prepped and frozen parsnips, potatoes etc when i knew id either be overdue or with a brand new baby. I also do a batch (more than 1 tbh) of her sausage rolls, and cheese and onion rolls, and freeze them too. And mince pies. Then they can be frozen uncooked and pulled put and shoved in freezer as and when. Cookie dpugh too.
Then i have a few things like lasagnes, pies in freezer for those days between xmas and NY when j am fed up with cooking, and / or have invited people over etc etc.
Most of the things I do for Christmas can be made from scratch in advance, although menu is slightly different.
Roast potatoes - can parboil in advance
Poast parsnips - peel in advance and keep under water in saucepan
Stuffing - done in advance
Red cabbage - done in advance, can freeze
Cranberry sauce - takes 5 mins max, but also can do in advance
Bread sauce - done in advance, kept in fridge
Bacon wrapped sausages - do wrapping in advance
Sprouts - only thing left to do at last minutes
Christmas pudding isn't difficult to make and can be done around now, you just need a place for it on the hob on the day. Brandy cream/butter are fool proof and again, can sit in the fridge in advance - easier than custard from scratch.
Mince pies I have done from scratch but nowadays when supermarkets are piled high with boxes of them, it always feels a step too far.
From your list, I would say Yorkshires have to be done fresh
or use Aunt Bessies or they are horrible. And cauliflower cheese would have to be done fresh too and seems a lot of hassle on the day.
Almost every recipe in Nigella Christmas has a guide to freezing or preparing in advance. I froze loads of the biscuits and muffins I made from it last year and they were lovely (once thawed obviously!)
I'm going to prep the veg in advance this year.
BettyF you beat me to it (luv your name)
OP, Nigella's Christmas is the book to read...
She's got lots of lovely make-ahead recipe including a great lasagna.
But OP listen to what you said
'We haven't really got the time or money to do a mock run so would...'
Unless you have servants and a cook I'd recommend you stay home alone for your first Christmas with your little new babes.
jamnan - i agree. it all sounds very exhausting to me and sounds as if you are going to be overloaded with work for weeks before freezing things. Invite your mum, but warm her it might not be up to her standard - she is sure to understand. i think you are in danger of trying to meet too high expectations (probably only yours) and you won't enjoy your kids first christmas - which would be my priority
I used to do it for 14 with just one oven.
Make your gravy soon & freeze it. Jamie Oliver has a good recipe for gravy using chicken wings. You can add some of the turkey juices to it at the last moment. I promise you it really cuts down on the heat & rush at the end of the cooking.
Make your bread sauce & freeze it. It will look a bit separated when you thaw it, but reheat slowly & whisk & it will be fine.
Hot Plates & Hot gravy & no one will notice if the sprouts etc aren't piping.
ANd don't forget that by the time you eat, someone will be tipsy someone will be miffed with someone else, a child/children will be tired/over excited.
As long as the meal has the stuff people expect they don't notice so much about it - there is so much else going on.
And I'd scrap cauliflower cheese & roast carrots - too much faff!
Have a great time
Hi roast potatoes can be done day before cook as normal, ie parboil, bash around in pan for crispy edges, roast until crispy but not quite as golden as you'd serve them. Take them out and put in a clean roasting tray, oven tray etc make sure they're not too crowded. Cover with a tea towel and keep at room temp. Def no cling and no fridge! Put back in oven without any fat to warm through while the meat is resting. Heard Mary Berry did this on a radio interview a few years ago, although she did hide admit to hiding them so they didn't get snaffled. So if it's good enough for Mary Berry.............
Last Christmas I made the following in advance and froze:
Stuffing roll (BBC good food recipe)
Gravy (used the Jamie Oliver recipe mentioned up thread)
Parmesan crusted parsnips (Delia Smith recipe)
Braised red cabbage (Delia again)
Savoury mini tarts (and again)
Chocolate torte (and again)
Rum sauce (...)
There was very little prep to do on the day as I peeled potatoes, carrots and sprouts and made the pigs in blankets on christmas eve and I'd already made the christmas puddings and just reheated in the slow cooker.
The main thing was just to remember to take out stuff that needed defrosting first, and then having a timetable for shoving in oven and turning the hob on.
Keep it simple - you've got things on your list you really want and that will be sufficient - to be honest you could just do turkey and not bother with ham. I guess you're doing a veg option as someone is vegetarian - I'm veggie and am happy with a veggie ready meal if I go to someone elses so that option could be covered by a ready meal.
Our xmas day meal is really simple - turkey, stuffing (not homemade), roast potatoes, carrots, sprouts, veggie for me and pigs in blankets (bought from Tesco). Everyone knows that's what they'll be getting and no more and doesn't them off. Do get everyone else to help out, your OH can do simple things like peeling veggies, stuffing if out of packet, making gravy, serving drinks (or you could designate another adult to be in charge of this). Family can set table for you, do some washing up(!) and of course help look after your new arrivals.
We cook everything from scratch and both dh and I are experienced cooks. This year we are doing Christmas for my parents and Father in law. Slightly different this year is we are adopting a baby who will likely only to have been with us a couple of weeks by then so we have made it very clear that this year we will be buying ready done stuff and making life as easy as possible. I will make pudding and cake though as can name those now. Dh will do yorkshires xmas Eve and we can reheat through for a couple of mins on xmas day. As others have said we'll buy a nice quality Turkey crown and will do roast potatoes and parsnips but everything else will be pre done. They completely understand and know this is not normal for us but it will be perfectly fine.
I think dreamingofsun summed me up certainly about not living up to expectations, it will for sure be me with the highest expectations!
Tryingtobeprepared, thanks for the potatoes tip! Who knew, will definitely do that too.
I saw an easy recipe for cranberry sauce yesterday
100 ML orange juice
100 g muscavado sugar
250 g fresh or frozen cranberries
Would look good and very easy
Also congrats in your little twins. I wouldn't kill myself in the kitchen, different story for your mum and you being a new mum I twins so do your own thing!!!
(Ahem... Lidl do honey glazed carrots and other cheats )
I do quite a bit in advance for the freezer and most of it goes in the oven straight from the freezer too because I freeze it in foil trays.
Stuffing of any kind (I do a sausage meat, breadcrumbs, onions, cranberry, chestnut and clementine) I freeze in a tray and heat in the oven from frozen.
Braised red cabbage I do then keep in a large kilner jar I. The fridge, it keeps for about a week.
I wrap the pigs in their blankets then freeze in uniform rows in a tray for the oven.
I par boil potatoes, fought them up then freeze on a baking paper lined tray, when frozen I put them into a freezer bag and tip into hot butter from frozen.
Parsnips can be par boiled and tossed in honey and frozen ready for the oven.
Bread sauce can be made in advance (and tastes better if you let it mature) and can be frozen and then thawed and heated in the microwave.
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