With the festive season nearly upon us, preparations for the Christmas Day feast may already be on your mind. While some may love the chaos that ensues as they try to: cook the turkey, keep the children and guests entertained and juggle the vegetable peeler all at the same time, others want the day to run as smoothly as possible.
Here are 10 Christmas Dinner Prep tips aimed at saving you time and lower those festive stress levels.
- Perfect Planning
If you don’t want any surprises on the big day, pre-planning is vital. Be clear what you need to do and when you need to do it. Most people want to try something slightly out of the ordinary for the big Christmas dinner so have your recipes close at hand and make sure you buy the ingredients in good time (especially if supermarkets are likely to run out).
Extra Tip: If you want to avoid the Christmas rush at the supermarket, try shopping out of hours, most supermarkets have 24-hour shopping in the run-up to Christmas.
- Making Space in the Fridge
A problem we often encounter at this festive time of the year is lack of space in the fridge. Have a good clear out well before Christmas so that don’t have to jam everything in. Veg generally last longer out of the fridge rather than in it, particularly things like carrots. If you’re buying potatoes, go for a sack rather than a plastic bag as the dark conditions help keep them to keep for much longer.
- Delegate Jobs
For the big day, if you don’t fancy peeling all those potatoes, get the family to help. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. It’s also a great Christmas tradition for the children who will feel more involved.
- Prep your Veg in Advance
If you can’t get any help, then you can take the pressure off Christmas day by prepping the day before. Potatoes can be parboiled ready to roast, and veg can be cut, placed in trays and stored in the oven.
Extra Tip: Want to speed peel your potatoes? Boil them in their skins, then place in ice water for a few minutes. You should then be able to pull the skins off with ease and very little effort.
- Go for a Crown Rather Than a Full Turkey
If you want something that’s a bit easier to cook, you can opt for a turkey crown rather than a complete bird. This breast meat is a lot smaller and easier to deal with. A great idea for those with limited oven space.
- Get the Turkey Out of the Way
Timing is everything when it comes to Christmas dinner, especially if you have a lot of guests. The biggest thing (especially if you opt for a large bird) that always gets in the way is the turkey, so cook that first. Putting it on as soon as you get up means you can basically forget about it until the rest of the prep is needed. A decent size turkey will stay warm and moist for a pretty long time, so it should be just perfect for the meal.
- Use Ice Cubes on the Legs
With large turkeys, one of the big problems is cooking it properly. The area that takes the longest is the breast and that can often dry out the legs. One solution is to cool the drumsticks down with ice cubes before you put in the oven, so the heating time is evened up. If you don’t fancy that, Jamie Oliver suggests putting some stuffing around the legs between the skin and the flesh.
- Cook the Stuffing Separately
Stuffing your bird can delay the cooking process further. Many chefs recommend cooking the stuffing separately and it certainly makes things easier and a lot less messy.
- How to Add Zing with Little or No Effort
There are some simple ways to add a bit of zing to your Christmas veg. Adding some honey and coarse mustard to your parsnips and carrots before you roast tastes delicious and a few chopped chestnuts and bacon bits will add crunch and a taste explosion to your sprouts. It doesn’t have to be full cordon bleu to impress.
- Don’t Forget the Christmas Pudding
The last thing you want to do after a big meal is get up and start cooking the pudding. Make sure this is all prepped and ready to go before you sit back, relax and tuck into your perfect turkey roast.