Christmas lunch need not be stressful. Just bear in mind that it is the ultimate multitasking challenge, what with roast potatoes, vegetables and a huge bird to bring to the table together, never mind all of the sauces and other paraphernalia.
Bespoke Catering Director Kelly Naylor knows a thing or 2 about preparing delicious meals for large groups of people, she shares her top tips below for getting prepped for Christmas dinner so you have time to relax and enjoy the festivities with your nearest and dearest…
Organisation: This is the key to ensuring that everything goes to plan and is the best way to avoid a potential meltdown that results you crying hysterically into the gravy! In the days leading up to Christmas make sure you’ve got absolutely everything you need, make a list and tick everything off as you go, from the obvious like a turkey, potatoes and pigs in blankets, to checking you’ve got enough oil to cook with and plenty of salt and pepper for seasoning too. Avoid the Christmas Eve madness of the supermarket by getting your big Christmas shop in by the 22nd of Dec.
Brine your Turkey on Christmas Eve: As turkey is a lean meat, it can become dry quite quickly, I like to brine my bird for around 12 hours before popping it in the oven to cook. During this process, it’ll absorb extra moisture, which in turn helps it stay moist and juicy, and the brining liquor will also help to season the meat. To do this you’ll need a large pot or bucket, filled with a 10% salt water mix, 2 tbsp of sugar and lots of aromats (black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, a couple of bay leaves and orange peel). While we are on the subject of the turkey it is vital before the big day that you check the bird will fit in your baking tray and oven!
The right tools for the job: Make sure you’ve got plenty of oven trays, pots and pans and serving dishes. Oh, and not forgetting a new roll of extra-long tin foil – super handy for helping to keep things warm before you serve dinner. Another thing to check is your knives – make sure they’re nice and sharp, as this will make cooking faster and easier.
Prep your veg the night before: Peel potatoes, carrots, parsnips and any other veg you’re having and leave them in pans of cold water overnight. This will save you a lot of faff and additional mess on Christmas morning. If you’ve got lots of space in your fridge (unlikely), you could even pre-cook your potatoes and parsnips on Christmas Eve to save even more time.
Get your timings for the big day sorted: Plan exactly how long everything takes to cook along with their oven temperatures and make yourself a to-do list. Once you have everything written down you will feel instantly better!
Wash as you go: If like us, when you cook a roast dinner you use every pot, pan and utensil in sight, clean up as you go (where possible). Even if this just means packing the dishwasher before carving the turkey, it’ll ensure you get to relax and enjoy the after-dinner festivities with your family – rather than being chained to a washing-up bowl for an hour after you’ve eaten.
Take some time to enjoy the day! I consider this to be the most essential tip for a successful Christmas dinner, nobody wants to be chained to the cooker or sink all day, so if some pre-made gravy or frozen spuds helps you free up some precious time get them in the trolley!