How To Cook Christmas Dinner

20/12/2021

christmas dinner
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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.

Christmas Dinner Shopping List

Person shopping at the grocery shop
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Find everything you need to make Christmas dinner easy with our essential shopping list...

Starters


With so much food ahead of you it's best to go light for starters. Consider a classic prawn cocktail, duck terrine or a selection of tarts to get the taste buds tantalized.

Mains

Every family has their favourite. Whether it’s a turkey, goose, duck or even beef, the main is always the star of the show. For vegetarians, alternatives such as a nut roast or plant-based pastry are perfect.
  • Your choice of meat
  • Vegetarian/Vegan alternatives



Sides


Although there’s some discourse over what should and shouldn’t be included on your Christmas dinner plate, you can’t go wrong with the essentials. Fluffy on the inside but crispy on the outside roasted potatoes paired with carrots, pigs in blankets, parsnips, red cabbage and maybe even a Brussels sprout or two.
  • Potatoes
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Pigs in blankets
  • Carrots
  • Parsnips
  • Peas
  • Red cabbage
  • Cauliflower
  • Stuffing



Desserts


‘Tis the season to indulge. From a traditional Christmas pudding drowning in cream to tins upon tins of chocolate and mince pies, there’s plenty of sweetness to go around.
  • Christmas pudding
  • Fresh cream
  • Brandy sauce
  • Panettone
  • Stollen
  • Pavlova
  • Mince pies
  • Cheese
  • Cheese crackers



Sweets & Nibbles


Everyone seems to magically gain an endless appetite over the holidays. So keep faces smiling with a fully-stocking snacking station.
  • Nuts
  • Crisps
  • Dips
  • Biscuits
  • Tin of chocolates


Other Essentials


Keep your cupboard stocked with essentials that’ll ensure your food goes further. Think containers and wrapping to save leftovers for the days ahead. Don't forget the basics: eggs, butter, flour just in case.
  • Extra-wide foil
  • Baking parchment
  • Cling film or reusable
  • Plastic containers
  • Freezer bags

23rd December

christmas kitchen

Doing as much as you can in advanced will make The Big Day that much easier. By breaking down little jobs across several days you’ll be able to avoid a whirlwind of cooking and stressing Christmas morning and leave you to be able to enjoy the festivities.

Morning
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Morning

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˚.)

soup in bowl
Emile Henry

Afternoon

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 and 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.

Christmas Eve

brussel sprouts
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Whether you make a start on the vegetable peeling or finish off your baking, getting your prep done on Christmas Eve will save you precious moments come Christmas morning when the whole house is buzzing with festive cheer.

Morning

Take inventory of your fridge and ensure you have everything you need; keeping in mind the majority of supermarkets will close early today.

Afternoon

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.

Evening

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).

Christmas Morning

roast chicken
Emile Henry

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

roast chicken
Emile Henry

4 Hours to Go

10:30am
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.

10:40am
Relax and enjoy the festivities until 12:30pm

potato pot
Emile Henry

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.


12:30pm
Put the pigs in blankets in the oven.


12:45pm
Turn on the hob and parboil your potatoes.

roast potatoes
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1 Hour 30 Minutes to Go

1:00pm


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).


1:15pm


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
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1 Hour to Go

It’s going to get busy. Ask for helpers for the last hour, especially when it comes to plating up.



1:30pm
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.



1:45pm
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.

christmas dinner
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30 Minutes to Go

2:00pm
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).



2:10pm
Drain and fry off the sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts and put the parcel of pigs in blankets into the oven to get warm.



2:15pm
Remove the stuffing from the oven, put the carrots onto boil & heat up the bread sauce you made ahead.



2:25pm
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.



2:30pm
Lunch is served. Bring everything to the table and enjoy a well-deserved drink. Happy Christmas!