Christmas dinners are great. The family gets to put on nice outfits, relax with a couple of glasses of wine, crack jokes all evening, and enjoy delicious food without a single concern on their mind. You, however, have to spend several days ahead chopping carrots, stirring sauces, and glazing hams as you cook, and cook, and cook some more, with scarcely any help. By the time you’re done and the guests have arrived, you’ve barely managed to put on a decent frock and you feel like taking a nice little nap in the gravy you’ve made. Well, it’s all worth it in the end because you get to see the family gathered around, and you really do enjoy cooking and being a good hostess. Still, you deserve more time on your hands, and we’re here to help. Handy little tips to help you make a splendid dinner coming right up!
Making turkey usually takes up all your damn day, but you can save yourself some time by preparing some things in advance. For example, if you plan to debone it, do it the evening before, and you can also chop all the veggies and things you plan to stuff it with and put it in sealed containers to sit overnight. If you have a huge crowd coming, consider roasting two small turkeys instead of one large one, as this will help them roast more quickly and evenly. Another good tip is to save the neck, giblets, and tail of the turkey and use it to make a delicious broth – this way, you waste less food, you get an easy meal that the guests will love.
The best thing about brined cabbage is that you can make is days or even a week in advance because the flavour just keeps getting better the longer it’s been sitting. Make it, keep it in your fridge, then reheat quickly on Christmas Day and you’re set.
Another thing that you can make well in advance. Make chicken gravy whenever you want to, then freeze it. When the time for dinner comes, simply defrost, add some juices from the turkey you’ve just roasted, heat up, and serve.
Just get a store-bought sauce. That’s right, we’re straight up telling you to go to the store or order some good sauce online. While gravy should definitely be homemade, cranberry sauce you buy in a can actually be pretty good, and taking these little shortcuts is an excellent way to save time. Besides, we guarantee that no one will even notice. You can even make a delicious pie while you are there.
The most important thing about making roast ham is simply getting good meat. Subpar ham will taste awful regardless of how you prepare it, so only buy meat from good butchers. If you are in Australia, you can now easily buy pork online, which is extremely convenient for all us busy people. Check whether your country has this option because, after all, we live in the golden age of the internet – we should use it to our advantage. Now, when it comes to ham, you want that balance between sweet and savoury, so you need to pick the right kind of glaze. A mix of honey and mustard is our favourite, but people use everything from cola, to golden syrup. Just remember to keep basting it every 10-15 minutes.
Potatoes have such a wonderfully simple taste and they’re the perfect addition to almost any Christmas meal you make. It’s just not the same without them. Russet potatoes are the best choice for baking, and you want to scrub the skins with a stiff brush and wash them in cold water thoroughly. Poke a few holes in them with a fork to make them bake better, and rub them with a mix of salt and melted butter (or olive oil) to make sure the skin is extra crispy. The best way to bake them is to place them directly on the oven rack and to raise the temperature to 425 degrees for about an hour. There you go, hot and downright delectable!
The best part of this endless cooking process is seeing your pleased guests and hearing all their praise. But believe us, if you take a few shortcuts no one will notice, and the food will be just as delicious. Plan ahead, relax, and enjoy the dinner!
About the author:
Roxana is a travel enthusiast and lifestyle consultant from Sydney and she loves to write about her adventures. She is all about the healthy lifestyle, loves to run with her husband and dogs and has fun cooking exotic meals for her family. Being a typical Aussie, she often hits the waves and loves beaches and sunshine! You can find out more about her writing following her on twitter and facebook. She is also one of the editors at Higstylife Magazine.