One of the most important meals of the year is fast approaching. Whether you’re a seasoned Christmas chef or it’s your first time hosting the Holidays, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow timeline on what to cook for Christmas dinner and when. After all, ‘tis the season to be jolly, not stressed.
Morning: If you’ve bought a frozen turkey, it will need to start thawing today. Remember the rule that you need 24 hours per 4 to 5 pounds of turkey to defrost it in the refrigerator.
Afternoon: Give yourself plenty of time on the big day by serving appetizers you can make ahead. Easy appetizers such as white bean dip, ham & figs or deviled eggs cakes are perfect for Christmas day & can be made on the 23rd and chilled until you need them.
Top Tip: Pre Prepare Your Gravy
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 refrigerator until Christmas morning.
Christmas Eve is the day of preparation.
Morning: take inventory of your refrigerator and ensure you have everything you need; keeping in mind that some stores may close early today.
Afternoon: Make a start on your sides: prep the sprouts & carrots, make the green bean casserole & prepare the stuffing. Once the prep is done, put the green bean casserole and stuffing in the fridge to chill & cover the rest of the vegetables with water to stop them from browning.
Evening: Peel and cut your potatoes and leave them in a pan of cold water overnight, there will be time to mash these tomorrow. 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 12lb turkey which will serve 8 people.
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator 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.
Remember: The cooking time for your turkey will vary depending on its weight; adjust your morning accordingly depending on the size of your bird.
4 Hours 30 Minutes to Go
1 Hour 15 Minutes to Go
10:00am 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 1pm
1:15pm 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 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, cover with a double layer of aluminium foil and leave to rest.
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.
45 Minutes To Go
Your timings for the next 45 minutes are crucial. If you need extra hands, ask for help from family members to ensure everything is served piping hot.
Put your pre-prepared stuffing in the oven.
Turn on the stove & boil the potatoes you prepared yesterday.
30 Minutes to Go
Put the green bean casserole in the oven.
Drain and fry off the sprouts with pancetta and chestnuts.
Remove the stuffing from the oven & put the carrots onto boil.
Drain & mash your potatoes.
Remove the green bean casserole from the oven & plate up with the turkey, stuffing & the rest of the vegetables. Serve with your mashed potatoes & gravy on the side.