How To Cook Christmas Dinner
The most important meal of the year is fast approaching. Whether you’re a seasoned Christmas chef or it’s your first time hosting the festivities, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow timeline on how to cook Christmas dinner. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly, not stressed.
If you’ve bought a frozen turkey, it will need to start thawing today. Remember the rule that you need 10 to 12 hours per kilogram to defrost in the fridge (for example, a 4kg turkey will take 48 hours to defrost at 4˚.)
Give yourself plenty of time on the big day by serving starters you can make ahead. Easy starters such as chestnut soup, chicken liver pate or figs with Parma ham are perfect for Christmas day & can be made on the 23rd and chilled until you need them.
Have one less thing on your mind Christmas morning by making your gravy ahead on the 23rd. Once prepared, leave the gravy to come to room temperature and then store in the fridge until Christmas morning.
Take inventory of your fridge and ensure you have everything you need; keeping in mind the majority of supermarkets will close early today.
Prepare the vegetables: trim the sprouts, chop the carrots, make the red cabbage, prep the parsnips, put the pigs in their blankets & make the stuffing ready for the morning. Once the prep is done, put the red cabbage, Brussel sprouts, pigs in blankets and stuffing in the fridge to chill & cover the rest of the vegetables with water to stop them from browning.
If you’re choosing to make your own cranberry and bread sauce, make these now and store in the fridge. Peel and cut your potatoes and leave them in a pan of cold water overnight. All that’s left to do is put the drinks in the fridge to chill ready for the big day tomorrow. (If you’re running out of room in the fridge, put your drinks in a secure outdoor space to keep chilled).
This timeline is based on a sit down time of 2:30pm, cooking a 4kg turkey which will serve 6 people or 4 with leftovers.
Remove the turkey from the fridge Christmas morning and leave, covered, somewhere cool. A chilled turkey will take much longer to cook; it needs to be at room temperature before it goes in the oven.
The cooking time for your turkey will vary depending on its weight, keep note of the following rule and adjust your morning accordingly:
Under 4kg: 20 minutes per kg plus 70 minutes
Over 4kg: 20 minutes per kg plus 90 minutes
4 Hours to Go
Preheat the oven & prepare your turkey according to the recipe you’re following. Once the oven has reached the required temperature put your turkey on the middle shelf.
Relax and enjoy the festivities until 12:30pm
2 Hours to Go
This is the calm before the storm so pour yourself your favourite festive tipple and get ready to serve a Christmas lunch to be proud of.
Put the pigs in blankets in the oven.
Turn on the hob and parboil your potatoes.
1 Hour 30 Minutes to Go
Check the turkey is cooked (make a cut between the thigh and breast and look at the juices, if they are clear the turkey is cooked. Alternatively, use meat thermometer and insert it into the thickest part of the bird.) Remove the turkey from the oven along with the pigs in blankets. Cover the turkey with a double layer of foil and leave to rest. Create a foil parcel and place your pigs in blankets inside, you’ll reheat these later.
Turn your oven up to 200˚C & put in a roasting tray with goose fat for the potatoes.
Drain the potatoes in a colander, shaking them to fluff the outsides (don’t skip this part – it’s important if you want a crispy outside and fluffy inside).
Carefully take out the roasting dish and place your potatoes in the hot fat before putting the dish back in the oven.
Boil your pre-prepared sprouts for five minutes then drain & plunge in cold water. (Putting them in cold water stops the cooking process – as you will be frying these later you don’t want to over cook them).
1 Hour to Go
It’s going to get busy. Ask for helpers for the last hour, especially when it comes to plating up.
Skim most of the fat from the turkey roasting tray before pouring in your pre-prepared gravy. Mix with the turkey juices and season to taste. Put the gravy on a high heat on the hob until it boils, and then simmer gently on a low heat until you’re ready to serve.
Turn the potatoes over & place the parsnips on a tray underneath the potatoes to roast. Now is the time to put your pre-prepared stuffing in the oven.
30 Minutes to Go
Heat up the red cabbage you prepared yesterday (this can be done in the microwave to free up space on the hob, if you need to).
Drain and fry off the sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts and put the parcel of pigs in blankets into the oven to get warm.
Remove the stuffing from the oven, put the carrots onto boil & heat up the bread sauce you made ahead.
Remove parsnips, pigs in blankets & roast potatoes from the oven & plate up with the turkey, stuffing & vegetables. Serve with your pre-prepared cranberry sauce, bread sauce & gravy on the side.
Lunch is served. Bring everything to the table and enjoy a well-deserved drink. Happy Christmas!