Christmas is a joyful time, but one thing that can be quite stressful is cooking the festive dinner spread that everyone is looking forward to. This step-by-step guide to cooking your Christmas Dinner should help
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Juicy turkey, crunchy Brussel sprouts and all the mouth-watering trimmings, Christmas Dinner is truly everyone’s favourite meal of the year. But for many Brits preparing the meal isn’t an easy task.
A poll by Thistle Hotels revealed that 1,500 Brits find the traditional meal to be the most worrying part of Christmas Day. A third of them think it’s the most stressful time of the year, with two-thirds of them revealing it left them feeling ‘utterly exhausted.’
This step-by-step guide which breaks down the prep and cooking times for different elements of Christmas Dinner should help make things easier and far less stressful.
Getting the perfect balance between dry and moist can be hard with turkeys. One thing that helps makes things easier is brining your bird the night before.
Fill a large pot with salt water, two tablespoons of sugar and lots of black pepper, cloves and cinnamon. Leave your turkey to soak in this mixture for 12 hours, this helps keep your turkey juice until you put it in the oven.
Since the turkey is often the hero of Christmas Dinner, start your meal prep with it. It’ll be best to take your stuffing and turkey out of the fridge to defrost it first in the morning. Preheat the oven and prepare the turkey by stuffing and basting it.
For the least amount of stress, your turkey should be in the oven within two hours of starting prep – suppose you defrost at 8am, then by 10.
Potatoes and gravy
Once you remove the turkey from the oven, cover it and leave it to rest. Take the roasting tray full of oil or goose fat and put it in the oven to warm it up.
In the meantime, drain the basting juices and turn up the heat to reduce the glaze to gravy. While the gravy is getting prepared, its best to turn your attention back to the tray in the oven.
If the oil and fat have heated up, place your potatoes into them. Make sure to completely cover them and return it to the oven. Within 30 minutes, it’ll be time to turn them over, then put them back in the oven and leave it for another 30 minutes.
For the potatoes, it’s recommended that you do the prep work including peeling, boiling and fluffing a day in advance and refrigerate overnight.
Pigs in blanket and other veggies
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While the potatoes are roasting, place the pigs in blanket into the oven as well. This only takes less than 30 minutes so keep an eye on the oven to make sure you take it out and keep it warm until it’s time to serve.
Also begin boiling the water for the other veggies like carrots or parsnips . You can also roast or stir fry them as well. The gravy should be done by this time, so start heating up any other sauces – whether its cranberry or bread – as well.
Start preparing and seasoning the Brussel sprouts, then sauté either with chestnuts and bacon or other ingredients depending on the recipe. Usually, it doesn’t take more than 20 minutes to get your Brussel sprouts fully prepared.
Start preparing your Christmas pudding early on, in-between preparing your turkey and moving onto your potatoes. This will ensure its done by the time everyone sits down for the meal. After you’ve made everything else, it should be time to remove the Christmas pudding from the heat, after which you can serve it with lots of brandy butter.
Some things to make ahead
- Taking the following steps can help you save time on the day :
- Peel and prep all your veggies and leave them in pans of cold water overnight.
- Make your stuffing the night before, cover and keep in the fridge, then cook on the day.
- Prepare your Christmas trifle ahead, so that you can simply add cream and serve at dinner
- Finally, besides prepping and cooking, try to set the table the night before as well. Get all your plates, cutlery, serving utensils, crackers set up, all you’ll need to do on the day is probably warm up the plates on the day.
Everyone’s Christmas menu is different, so the timings for the actual day might need to be adapted and expanded upon, but this basic guide should be a great place to start so you can into cooking your Christmas Dinner with some peace of mind.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.