Christmas Dinner – A Plan

Christmas Dinner – Turkey Dinner Planner

Note: This is from my first recipe book : ‘Gimme the Recipe’ and is aimed at the novice who just wants to HAVE A Plan TO get a simple, tasty Christmas Dinner on the table.

As one of the most anticipated meals of the year, a little bit of planning will help to relieve the stress that surrounds producing the Christmas Dinner. What will also make a big difference is to delegate the jobs that you don’t have to do yourself. Kids are great at peeling vegetables and setting the table etc. Get some Christmassy music going in the background, light some cranberry or mulled spice scented candles and sip a Bailey’s on ice to get you in the right frame of mind. It shouldn’t be all about slaving and sweating in the kitchen on your own so make sure everyone knows it’s Christmas for you as well. I think of a Christmas Turkey Dinner as an over-sized roast chicken dinner with a few airs and graces.

Planning

Work out what time you want to eat at and put that into the timing planner (below), then work backwards adjusting the times and writing them into the adjusted column as per suggested times.

If you are planning to eat at 2.30, tell everybody it’s 3 p.m., every little helps to take a bit of pressure off.

The timings recommended for cooking an unstuffed turkey on the Irish Safefood website is 19 minutes per kg + 124 minutes in a fan oven at 180oC and a Gas oven at 5. They recommend covering the turkey with tinfoil for a juicier turkey and basting it every hour, removing the tinfoil half an hour from the end to brown the skin. The ham will require 20 minutes per 450g and 20 minutes extra.

Based on this, the suggested timings would be for a 5kg turkey (10 servings).

As you can see I keep my vegetable options simple: boiled and roast potatoes, carrots, Brussels sprouts and sweet corn. Substitute these with whatever vegetables you fancy. When preparing the potatoes I peel them and leave them in cold water until required. This isn’t ideal from a nutritional point of view but with so much going on, they do need to be prepared in advance.

For a starter, I usually make Darina Allen’s refreshing Grape and Melon with mint from her A Simply Delicious Christmas book. Simple and tasty.

Schedule
Christmas Eve

Cook the spiced beef (a Cork tradition spiced beef is bought pre-spiced by the butcher) – takes 2 to 3 hours of simmering depending on weight of joint.
Soak the ham in pot in fridge overnight if it’s very salty otherwise a couple of hours on Christmas morning will do.  (Change the water before boiling on Christmas Day.)
Make cranberry sauce if you’re making it – I buy mine. (Cranberries, sugar, water, orange zest. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer until cranberries burst – 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate)

 Christmas Day – Timing Planner

Good Luck. It will be fine! xx Sheila

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