The Perfect Christmas Dinner
When all of the prezzies
have been opened the next big event is the Christmas Dinner. Quite possibly the biggest part of the Christmas day celebrations, it can also be one of the most stressful. Therefore I've put together a guide to help take away some of the stress.
Okay, so at some point earlier in the year you made a throw away comment about having Christmas dinner at yours this year, and then as December looms near, people start to say things like "Looking forward to coming to you at Christmas." and "It'll be nice to have Christmas dinner cooked for us." And you thing damn I'm actually going to have to do Christmas dinner.
So, first things first, finalise who is actually coming and check for any food allergies, vegetarians etc, then plan your menu accordingly.
A typical menu for me is;
- Prawns wrapped in basil with Thousand Island dip
Stilton and black olive tartlets
Oven-roasted tomatoes with rocket
Champagne with strawberries
- Spicy parsnip soup with warm bread roll
- Roast turkey with roast carrots, swede and potatoes, dauphinoise potatoes, pigs in blankets, stuffin, sprouts in chestnut cream, gravy and cranberry sauce.
Veggie - Port soaked mushroom brioche with roast vegetables, dauphinoise potatoes and sprouts in chestnut cream.
- Steamed Christmas pudding
with either brandy cream or brandy butter.
- Selection of cheeses (Stilton, Roquefort, Brie, goats etc) with biscuits
With the menu decided write yourself a detailed shopping list and don't forget to include things like tin foil, tins etc. Take a look at your menu and decide what can be done in advance of the big day. For example with my menu I would make the tartlets, soup, dauphinoise potatoes and the filling for the veggie brioche the night before.
Work out how long your turkey will take to cook, as rough guide allow 45 minutes per kg and then an extra 20 minutes at the end and don't forget to allow it to rest for 30 minutes before serving. Then work out the timings for everything else around the turkey and write a plan for the day.
Take a look at the Apron Guides
for help with timing, measurements and conversions when cooking the Christmas dinner.
On Christmas day I normally get up bright and early, because I get very excited about Christmas, put the oven on, have a glass of Champagne and crumpets and open my presents. Then prep the Turkey and pop it in the oven.
About an hour before guests arrive I prepare the veg and make a start on the remaining canapes.
As guests arrive I have a glass of champagne with strawberries ready and seat them in the living room, then once everyone has arrived I place the canapes on tables in the living room. Seating everyone in the living room with something to nibble on keeps them out of the kitchen.
Stick to the time plan that you prepared and when the turkey and veg have only 30 minutes left before serving. Start to re-heat the soup and ask your guest to take a seat at the table, serve wine. Warm the bread rolls, dish up the soup, garnish and serve.
Clear away the soup bowls and replenish everyone's wine, I find things go a lot better if guest don't have to sit with an empty glass.
Now for the main event, to make sure plates are hot and sparkling clean wash them in the dishwasher with the cycle timed to finish 10 mins before you plan to dish up. To save time and make sure everyone gets their food while it's hot, carve the turkey and place on a platter, place the veg, and other accompaniments in bowls and place on the table for people to help themselves.
I always choose a Christmas pudding that can be microwaved, so microwave, turn out on a plate, place on table and pour over brandy (I have used Bacardi in the past when I realised I didn't have any brandy), light and then serve allowing people to help themselves to brandy butter or cream.
By this point everyone is normally too full for the cheeseboard, so we normally go and sit back in the living and some people have forty winks and then I serve the cheese for supper with a mince pie and a glass of port.
Then that's it over for another year, well except the Turkey which will last until the New Year in several guises from sandwiches to curry.
The thing to remember if it does all go horribly wrong and you end up having beans on toast, people wont be so quick to accept your offer next time which means you wont have to do Christmas dinner again for a while!