You Too Can Enjoy A Stress Free Christmas Dinner
I know, cooking Christmas dinner and getting to the end of the day unfrazzled may seem like a pipe dream, but I promise you it’s not. A few years ago I started preparing some of Christmas dinner in advance by cooking and freezing roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings, pigs in blankets and stuffing balls.
Now the children are older traditions are changing. On Christmas morning we now like to make time for a nice walk on the beach with the dogs. We pull on the Christmas jumpers load the car with dogs and off we go. But even with all my pre-Chrismas Day food preparations, it was not quite the stress free Christmas dinner I dreamed of.
I want to be able to enjoy the day and join in be with the family, not stuck in the kitchen. Our family used the word ‘twitter’ long before the social media platform came about. Twittering rubbish is what we do best. No arguing or fighting, there is just a stream of non-stop drivel coming forth from our mouths and that plays a big part in our day. Sitting and talking rubbish
It actually does my husbands head in. The kitchen is the pokiest room in our house, but when my parents are up we all congregate in the kitchen and talk rubbish.
Taking that into account this post may not help people like my husband to enjoy a stress free Christmas dinner!
Just before Christmas I was browsing the newspaper, procrastinating, no doubt. When I came across an article about pre-cooking and freezing the meat for Christmas dinner. OooOOOooooo, I thought. Is that really possible? Won’t it dry out? To be honest I almost dismissed it as one step too far
I am so glad I didn’t. Against my better judgement, I decided to give it ago. With a nothing ventured, nothing gained, sort of attitude. Just the thought of enjoying a total stress free Christmas dinner was all I needed to convince me. Not only did we walk the dogs on the beach, I even managed to sit and enjoy a cup of tea afterwards and still had dinner on the table for two o’clock!
Dinner times in this house have always been a bit of a joke. My family have never let me forget about the time I invited them for dinner to serve it at around eleven o’clock (at night). Oh and the time we invited a friend over and didn’t even eat… At least I never left the baby on the bus! Even now our main meal is ready when it’s ready, so you can see why I was up for the idea.
Once again I digress…
How I Did It
This Christmas we had a whole turkey and a chicken, ‘cos the leftovers are the best bits, don’t you think? By this time I had already cooked and frozen the accompaniments (is that what you would call the spuds and trimmings?) plus a fresh tomato and basil soup for starters and a couple of tubs of chicken liver pate.
To cook the meat, I slung a couple of carrots, an onion and garlic into a roasting tray with some stock. Then I seasoned the birds before placing them breast side down (helps keep the meat moist) on top of the veg and covering in bacon. About an hour from the end of cooking (which depends on the size of your bird or cut of meat) I turned them over, seasoned again and topped with more bacon… There really is no such thing as too much bacon!
The chicken was cooked first so that was removed from the oven, covered in foil and left to sit. The same was done with the turkey when that was ready.
The bits left in the roasting tin were scrapped into a saucepan and turned into plenty of gravy.
After the meat had sat for a bit I carved it as I would normally for Christmas dinner and layered it up in a couple of shallow casserole dishes, with a good slosh of gravy and a few knobs of butter between layers. Before covering it with cling film and popping it into the freezer along with the gravy.
On Christmas Eve
There was very little to do. Just before I went to bed I took one dish of meat (the other I left for another day), the gravy and soup out of the freezer. That was it really. We even managed to go for a Sunday Walk with the Zakynthos Walking Group.
All I needed to do was to remember to take out the roasties, pigs in blankets, stuffing balls and Yorkshire puddings.
I re-heated it all in an oven preheated to 180C, giving the meat half an hour to reheat, covered with foil. Which was the longest cooking time of the day. The veg I prepared fresh, but it really didn’t take long either.
As we were enjoying our starter the dinner was reheating nicely in the oven. I had to get up a couple of times to check on things, but it was with minimal fuss in the kitchen.
Plates heated and dinner was on the table in good time and you would never have known that any of it was preprepared apart from the distinct lack of dishes compared to preparing on the day.
The meat was not in the least bit dry and nothing was overcooked. Maybe the secret was not being an outstanding cook in the first place? Mum didn’t seem to notice anything apart from the lack of dishes!
It is something I would not only do again but would even consider prepreparing roast dinners like this for during the year too. It would be a great way of making the most of low prices and supermarket specials.
So there you have it, the secret of enjoying a stress free Christmas dinner. Would you consider preparing your Christmas dinner like this? Or are you one step ahead already?
© 2018, Debbie. All rights reserved.