CHRISTMAS TIME PLAN AND COOKING METHODS
Need help? You will get me on our Facebook Page until 2pm Christmas day if you have any questions.
This is broken down into 5 stages, finishing on Christmas day at the end of the page, I strongly suggest you follow each stage then clean down and get ready for the next.
Follow my plan and you will have a relaxing Christmas day as most of the work if done Christmas eve. This is very similar to how it is done is professional kitchens which means if you follow my plan but change it to the number you are catering to then you will easily serve any number of people on the day.
The big thing is time, make sure you read through the steps below then get each thing ready as listed. Then start the next steps one by one. This will mean you will be well organised and have a clean and tidy kitchen to work in.
First lets look at our space. Clean your work area of all things other than what you need to do each job.
If you have it then use a separate chopping board for raw meat, if not make sure you clean the board, knife area you cooked in and anything that came into contact with the raw meat esp your hands. Cold water won’t kill the bacteria, you need hot soapy water.
Christmas eve – at a time to suit you but make sure to allow plenty of time for the meat to cool fully before carving (it will carve much easier if cold) or placing in your fridge if you choose to carve in the morning. I suggest you cook them early then carve them later in the day when cooled. It is what I am doing.
- Remove the turkey from the fridge 1 hour before you plan on cooking it, longer if it is a really big one, say 1.5 hours. This allows the turkey cook more evenly.
- The rule when cooking is 20 minutes per 500g and 20 minutes over.
- Cover the turkey loosely with tin foil for ¾ of the cooking time the remove it for the remaining time to allow the skin to brown.
- Make sure you baste your turkey as it cooks, I do this every 20 minutes after the first hour of cooking. Simple spoon the cooking juices over the bird to baste then continue cooking.
- It is important you allow the cooked turkey to rest, Cover with foil to keep it warm and allow to rest for 10 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the bird.
- Follow my guide and do all this Christmas even morning then allow the turkey to cool before portioning for the next day as per my guide.
- You can choose to coat the turkey breasts in rashers while cooking which will give it even more flavour and help keep the meat moist. Remove them when you remove the foil to allow the meat to brown.
- When the turkey is cooked remove it from the roasting tin and place on a large plate or chopping board.
- Skim as much fat off the roast tin as you can leaving the juices, keep the fat in a cup for the roast spuds later.
- Place the roasting tin on your hob and turn it to medium then add 30g butter and allow to melt before adding 50g flour and together with the cooking juices and butter form into wet sandy paste.
- Add 400ml hot or boiling water and 1 stock pot and whisk so the paste dissolves into the water to make the gravy. This should be a gravy consistency. If it is too thick add more water if it isn’t thick enough, cook a little more until it thickens.
- The gravy browning is used to colour this but be careful, very little goes a long way. Add ¼ tsp at a time and mix it in well before adding more until it is the colour you want.
- If you use to much it will turn black and can’t be fixed unless you dilute the gravy a lot. A tiny dash of milk or cream will help but it won’t be the same.
- If you can’t get gravy browning then use a little Bisto to thicken it (add to the boiling liquid) but leave the flour and butter out from step 2.
- Strain into a pot when ready, allow to cool fully then pour into a jug or bowl and place in the fridge.
- Heat in the microwave or a pot when needed.
- Boil your ham for 20 minutes per 500g and 20 minutes over, the skin easily peels off when cooked fully.
- Add flavour by boiling the ham in ¾ water and the rest coke along with the mustard, cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and bay leaves
- Remove the ham and remove the skin but leave the fat on then cover in one of our glazes before baking in a preheated oven 200c or GM6 for 20 to 30 minutes until the top is golden brown.
- Rest the ham covered in foil for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the meat to rest and to make it easier to carve.
- Follow my guide and do all this Christmas eve morning then allow it to cool fully before portioning as per my guide.
Once you have these done and they are cool then it is time for the next steps.
YOU WILL NEED
For these steps you will need a roasting tin big enough to hold portions of turkey and ham, use 2 if you don’t have one big enough or buy one of those big foil ones available at Christmas.
You will need tin foil again, a chopping board to carve the cooked meats and a carving knife and carving fork. The sharper your knife the better slices you will get.
Sheets of grease proof paper or baking parchment big enough to cover the tins but also small enough to fit inside.
OK so now carve the turkey and ham as best you can. I will be carving my own live Christmas eve but I am using a breast rather than a crown or whole bird. Keep the white and brown meat separate if you cooked a whole turkey.
- Carve the ham keeping the slices roughly the same size as the white turkey meat slices bearing in mind you can fold either if needed
- Place the roasting tin in front of you then lay a slice of ham down, use 2 or more if needed.
- Roll a ball of stuffing loosely with your hands then place this on the ham.
- Top these with brown meat and finally lay the white meat over so it covers everything else.
- Soak the baking parchment or grease proof paper in cold water for a few minutes then use it to cover the meat ensuring the paper stays inside the tin.
- Pour 1 tbsp of water per portion into the tin then cover the lot with tin foil and stick in your fridge.
- To heat – pre-heat your oven to 180C or GM4 and heat on the middle shelf for 20 minutes or so until the center portions are piping hot all the way through.
- The time to heat these is just before you are ready to serve dinner. Remove from the oven then remove the foil and paper being very careful as they will be hot and steam will rush out which can give you a nasty burn.
The best way to life them out of the tin is to use a fish slice (the flat one with the holes in the middle) and place directly onto the plate after you have plated the rest of the ingredients.
Now lets sort out the veg and spuds.
We are going to prepare the veg so each is oven ready, this means all you have to do is pre-heat your oven and pop them in with the turkey and ham on Christmas day. Yep, it really is that easy :- )
For this you will need – a vegetable chopping board, a sharp knife, a vegetable peeler, 4 pots or recycle one and use it a few times, potato masher, roasting tin, a strainer, a whisk, 2 wooden spoons or similar heat proof spoons, 2 medium bowls, 1 soup bowl and 3 oven proof dishes.
You will also need tin foil.
Mash and Roast Potatoes
Peel 12 big potatoes and cut into even sized pieces. Not too small, you want them a nice size for the roasties.
Place these into a pot of cold water then add 1 tsp of salt and bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer, cover and leave for 8 minutes. Remove 8 pieces and set to one side. These are for the roasties which we will do tomorrow so allow to cool then cover and stick in the fridge.
When the other potatoes are cooked drain the water from them but leaves the spuds in the pot. Cover with a clean tea towel and let sit for about 5 minutes.
Mash till lump free and add 2 tbsp of butter and about 25ml milk and then the leftover cheese sauce from the cauliflower cheese. The spuds take longer to cook so make the cauliflower cheese when they are cooking so it is done when they are cooked and you can add the left over sauce to the mash.
Carrots & Parsnips
Peel each then remove the tops and ends. Cut into chunks, keeping them separate, you can see how big in my video on our Facebook Page on Christmas eve. If you miss it then cut them the a similar size to your thumb only wider.
Place the carrots in a pot of cold lightly salted water then boil until they are nearly cooked. Remove from the heat then cool them down by running cold water into the pot until they are cold.
Drain the cold carrots then place them in a bowl with the raw parsnips and mix with a sprinkle of leaves (needles) from the fresh rosemary, 10 will do the trick, 1 or 2 tbsp of olive or rapeseed oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. You can stick them in a roasting tin or casserole dish now or you can leave them in the bow and do this in the morning.
I prefer to use frozen sprouts, they taste nicer to me as they absorb other flavours better, the same with cauliflower if I am making cauliflower cheese.
If using fresh, remove the dry ends and the loose leaves. Boil these sprouts in salted boiling water for 6 minutes. Cool them under slow running water like you did the carrots.
Fry the bacon lardons until they just start to crisp, remove from the pan, allow to cool before mixing with the sprouts and about 25g butter cut into cubes. Place in an oven proof dish, cover with foil and place in your fridge.
You will finish these Christmas day just before dinner. 180C or GM4 for 20 – 30 minutes.
The Cauliflower Cheese
This is so easy to make so don’t be put off. You can make it all the day before then, just like the rest, finish it Christmas day just before you eat.
Stick the cauliflower in a pot of boiling water with a stock cube dissolved in it, bring it to the boil then cook it until the cauliflower is almost cooked (I like mine soft so cook it fully).
- Drain really well then place in an oven proof dish and set to one side to cool.
- Stick 500ml milk in a pot then slowly bring close to boiling.
- Meanwhile melt 40g butter in a bowl in your microwave then mix in 40g flour or gluten free flour and mix to a paste.
- Whisk half of this into the sauce, then add 150g grated cheddar cheese and stir until melted through.
- The sauce should be nice and thick like yoghurt, if not add a 1 tbs roux and whisk in well, give it a minute and add more if needed. Add a little milk or water if you make it too thick.
- Taste it, it should be nice and cheesy, if not then add more cheese and mix over a low heat until it melts through.
- Pour this over the cauliflower keeping about half a mug back for later.
- Sprinkle grated cheese over the top then allow the whole lot to cool.
- When cooled fully, cover with foil then stick in your fridge.
- You will finish this in the oven tomorrow, 180C or GM4, for about 35 to 40 minutes.
For this you will need 1 medium pot, 1 wooden spoon, 1 stick blender, chopping boards for meat and veg, 1 really sharp knife.
You can prepare the soup as per my recipe by following the link below. Allow it to cool fully before putting in your fridge.
Reheat this in a pot Christmas day.
If you pop the main course items in the oven just before you serve the soup you can time it so it is ready when you finish your soup. You may have to pop into the kitchen a few times to pop stuff in according to their cooking or heating times unfortunately. Get someone else to clear the soup bowls etc while you sort out the main course.
Remember to relax, it is Christmas and no one wants a rushed meal. Take your time, make sure everything is cooked and hot all the way through to the center when reheating.
Choose your favorite dessert from our site then make it Christmas eve and store in your fridge until needed Christmas day.
These ingredients are not included in the ingredient list that is part of this guide so make sure to add them to the list.
Remove the food that will go into the oven from the fridge and let them sit for an hour while your oven heats up.
This is a great time to check everything, make sure you didn’t miss anything.
Follow the Important notes and times for heating or cooking each thing and message me on Facebook up to 2pm Christmas day if you need my help.
The Roast Potatoes
These need to be finished Christmas day so they go into the oven, 180C or GM4, 10 minutes before the cauliflower cheese and come out at the same time as the cauli cheese is ready. Make sure to turn them halfway through cooking.
- It is very important to remember ovens vary and the more stuff you have in one the longer these things take to cook or heat up so if you are heating everything at the same time then you need to allow extra time, this will vary from oven to oven.
- The sprouts and Cauliflower cheese take the longest so get them into the oven first.
- Next the roast spuds and carrots and parsnips
- Then finally the turkey and ham.
- Only open the oven when necessary as it will cool down quickly.
- Leave the dishes out of the fridge for an hour before sticking each in the oven. This will heat them quicker and stop them cooling the oven down so much when you pop them in.
- The food must be piping hot all the way through before you serve it.
- Have your gravy simmering in a pot ready to pour.