Christmas and Thanksgiving can be a very stressful time if you’re the chief cook and bottlewasher in the house. Even if you regularly cook roast meals, there is extra pressure on these two occasions to produce a meal fit for the King of Siam and his entourage because Christmas and Thanksgiving almost invariably involve big family get togethers.
Your exact meal is obviously entirely up to you but I thought it might just be helpful to map out a suggested main-course menu (because this is what we all worry about) plus suggested timing. Make this schedule the basis of your Christmas menu planning and add or delete items that you want to include or remove. Remember, the clever cook will always plan ahead so that they don’t totally lose their mind (and cool) on ‘The Big Day’.
Suggested Main Menu – Serves 8
‘Pigs in blankets’ (little sausages wrapped in bacon)
PREPARING AHEAD – All dishes to be kept in fridge or freezer until needed
Up to 1 Month Ahead
Parboil and freeze the Roast Potatoes
Make the Chestnut and Cranberry Roll, if freezing
***Up to 3 Days Ahead***
***If you have bought a frozen turkey, think about how you plan to defrost it. Be aware that in a fridge a frozen bird of the size appropriate to feed 8 people could take anything from a day and a half to two and a half days to properly defrost. Suggested sizes of bird are here and tips on defrosting here (this second link takes you to the British Food Standards Agency site).
Up to 2 Days Ahead
Make the Chestnut and Cranberry Roll if making from fresh
Prepare and roast the Glazed Apples and Pears with Sticky Shallots
Roast the Chestnut and Cranberry stuffing roll – keep in the foil
Make the bread sauce and store, covered, in the fridge
Boil or steam the sprouts and prepare the topping for the Crispy-topped Sprouts
Steam the carrots for the Buttery Caraway Carrots
Prepare the Pigs in Blankets
Defrost anything frozen in the fridge.
Stuff the turkey, weigh and calculate cooking time. Heat oven to 190C / 375F / Gas mark 5 / (Fan oven: 170C, approx 340F)
Put the turkey in to roast (timings based on a 4.5 kg / 10lb turkey)
11.00am and 12.00pm:
Check the roasting tin – add more cider if needed
Remove the foil from the turkey to let it brown
Leave the turkey to rest. Put the potatoes in the oven to roast, if frozen. (If not, put in at 1.10pm). Make the gravy.
Turn the oven up to 220C / 425F / Gas 7 /(Fan 200C / 400F). Turn the potatoes and add the stuffing roll to oven to reheat. Put the ‘pigs in blankets’ in oven to cook.
Reheat the apples, pears and shallots in the oven if room, or in the microwave if not, adding a little extra glaze. Finish the sprouts and the carrots and heat the bread sauce, adding a little milk if it seems too thick. Take the foil off the stuffing.
Serve and enjoy! If you have a hot pudding planned for dessert, place it in the oven and allow the residual heat to warm it through while you eat.