Having a Christmas Day Planner is a great way to take the stress out of what should be a special day but which so often ends up as a chaotic race to get Christmas dinner on the table!
Start now by sitting down and planning what food you need by working out your menus. Ideally this should include a couple of days either side of Christmas day, especially if you will be having guests. Once your menus are sorted you can make a list of food and break this down into the following:
- Items which you can buy in advance, either because they are long dated (crackers, sauces, part baked bread, chocolates, snacks, nuts) or which can be frozen (sausages wrapped in bacon, stuffing, ready made vegetable dishes, mince pies, bread). Also soft drinks and alcoholic ones can be bought in advance.
- Your second list will be to buy the week before such as vegetables which will keep (potatoes, carrots etc) any ready made items which will be within date for Christmas, cheese, fresh pasta, smoked salmon.
- Finally a few days before, collect the turkey and buy perishables such as milk, cream, bread (you could freeze it- if you’ve got room!)
With your food list sorted out you can concentrate on what to do when, I like to have all my menus written out, with approximate timings so I know exactly where I’m up to.
For me simplicity is key and any short cuts available I will take! My Christmas day menu looks something like this:
11 am Bacon sandwiches to keep everyone going
2pm Starter of Smoked Salmon and Smoked Salmon Mousse
2.30 Turkey and all the trimmings
3.30 Christmas pudding
Evening: Cheese and biscuits
All the timings are approximate,you never know what might happen unexpectedly. For example we have relatives in Singapore and they always seem to ring at a crucial moment!
In terms of your Christmas Day Planner, here is an example of how it could look:
- 7.00 am Take the turkey from the fridge to bring to room temperature
- 7.30 am Preheat the oven to 425F/220C/Gas 7
- 8.30 am Start cooking the turkey as per recipe
- 9.00 am Lower temperature to 325F/160/C/Gas 3 and cook for 3 1/2 hours. Prepare vegetables, roping in as many helpers as possible! Place in pans ready to cook
- Noon Open any red wines to allow the wine to breathe
- 12.30 pm Turn back the foil on the turkey and turn heat back to 425F/220C/Gas 7 for 30 mins to crisp the skin.
- 1.00 pm Check the turkey is cooked and remove from the oven wrap in foil as per the recipe. Make gravy as per recipe and keep warm. Start cooking potatoes for roasting
- 1.30 pm Place potatoes and sausages and bacon rolls into the oven and cook until crisp – 45mins, then keep warm
- 1.40 pm Put parsnips into the oven with the potatoes. Heat serving dishes and plates
- 1.50 pm Cook Brussels sprouts as per recipe , warm already prepared red cabbage, and bread sauce
- 2.00 pm Plate the Smoked salmon and mousse and set on the table. Open white wines or Champagne. Let everyone have the starter
- 2.15 pm Carve the turkey
- 2.20 pm Place everything into warmed serving dishes
- 2.30 pm Time to eat.
Please share your own tips for planning Christmas day