When it comes to Christmas dinner, it’s easy to feel snowed under. Here, Jane Rylands, from cooker specialists Belling, shares five tips that will make your life easier this year.
With the 25th of December on the horizon, the to-do list for every busy parent quickly fills up with jobs for the festive season. However, there’s always one that stands out: preparing and cooking Christmas dinner.
On average, it takes around 3.3 hours of hard work to get the feast ready (British Turkey), which is a significant portion of the big day. When your family and friends are round catching up with each other, it’s understandable to start feeling like you’re spending too much time in the kitchen. To help you out, I’ve put together five great tips for cooking Christmas dinner in a busy kitchen.
Have a pre-Christmas clear out
A full Christmas dinner with all the trimmings can quickly take over your whole kitchen, with your worktops, cupboards, and shelves dedicated to organisation and preparation, not to mention the huge amount of fridge and freezer space you’ll need.
In anticipation of this, I recommend that you put some time aside to have a pre-Christmas clear out, using up supplies you don’t need for the festive period and getting rid of anything that’s out of date. This will save you from struggling on the big day, and you’ll have plenty of space to prep those delicious dishes you’ve been planning. You’ll also have room for those inevitable leftovers after making a little too much for the whole family to eat!
Prepare some dishes in advance
Did you know there are plenty of Christmas food that can be prepared in advance? Knowing what dishes that you can make beforehand can save you a lot of time on the big day, allowing you to do things much more efficiently and removing a lot of stress.
There’s a whole tonne of items that can be prepped ahead of schedule. Most trimmings — Yorkshire puddings, gravy, and stuffing, for example — can be made up days in advance, put into the freezer, then simply reheated on the day. Many veggies, like potatoes, sprouts, and parsnips, can be cooked or boiled on Christmas Eve, left in the fridge, then warmed up when dinner time arrives.
Use your kitchen for maximum efficiency
When it’s all systems go on Christmas Day, it’s not uncommon to find you need to cook a few things at once to stay on track, potentially causing a backlog for your carefully planned dinner.
With this in mind, it can be beneficial to sit down and think about which foods can cooked at the same temperature and for similar amounts of time to boost the efficiency of your prep. If your oven has a few compartments, make sure that you’re going to be making full use of them to double up on items that need different settings.
You should also look for ways to use the rest of your kitchen and its appliances to their full potential — for instance, you can use a slow cooker to prepare the meat or use a steamer to prepare a wide variety of vegetables.
Brine the turkey ahead of schedule
A nice, juicy turkey is the traditional choice and main event for a Christmas feast, so it’s little wonder it’s the focus for most dinner preppers. But, to ensure there isn’t any dryness in your meat, it’s important to get the technique and timing right when it comes to brining your bird. Thankfully, this isn’t difficult when you know how, and it can even be done in advance of the big day for efficiency.
You can get started on the process early on Christmas Eve. Begin by mixing your brine ingredients in a stockpot. Stir often while bringing them to the boil, before allowing the mixture to cool. Fill a brining tub and submerge your turkey, weighing it down to keep it under if necessary. Leave the bird and the tub in a cool place, like a fridge or pantry, for 24 hours to soak up all the juices. Finally, on Christmas morning, take your turkey out and rinse it off with water, then return it to a cool location to rest for around three hours before you begin roasting it.
Bring in some little helpers
Though you might be hosting Christmas dinner, it’s important to remember that you don’t need to prepare the food on your own. If you’ve got family and friends coming around, there’s a good chance that there’ll be a few culinarily-capable volunteers among them who can help you out. Even just getting an extra pair of hands on a simple task like vegetable chopping will halve the time it takes, so it’s worth going on a recruitment drive. Plus, just because you’re both going to be hard at work doesn’t mean you can’t get a good catch-up session in!
Follow my five tips and you will be able to prepare your Christmas dinner in a much more efficient way this year, giving you more time to spend with your loved ones.