Saturday, 22 December 2012

Don't panic! It's just a roast - Christmas Day 2012

So the world didn't end after all? Clearly this is what I was waiting for to write all these posts... We're aiming for the picture above. Clear plates and full tummies all around. 

Think about how you plan on serving up? At the table? In the kitchen? Make sure you've got plates, serving dishes and spoons if you're using them, your table laid all in advance. Remember this is just a roast - so get the faffing done in advance. 

I'm going to say it again and direct you to last year's post before we go any further It's. Just. A. Roast

Think about it the same way you would do a Sunday dinner. Then think about it like work: what can you delegate? It doesn't matter if someone won't do it how you would, just let go of some of the responsibility. This year we're at Mum's, I've made the get ahead gravy, frozen it and brought it with me today - one less thing for Mum to cook. 

I approach planning Christmas dinner the same way I was taught to in Cookery years back. And the same way my mum does it too. 

Let's start with what time you want to serve up. Immediately take half an hour off, and work to cooking for then. This allows you to get distracted by a glass of wine, or a passing baby, have a cup of tea, or have a sit down and listen to the radio for a bit. Write this down at the top of a piece of paper. Write down the time at half hour intervals down the left hand side of this page. 

You've worked out how long your turkey takes to cook  - read this post for a guideline. This is complicated to write down, but really straightforward to do in person. Work backwards from your new target time and take off how long the turkey takes to cook. If like me, you've only got a single oven you can keep the turkey warm for ages by wrapping it in foil and bath towels. Find that time on your paper and write next to it, Put turkey in oven

How long does your oven take to heat up? Take this time off your turkey going in the oven, and write Turn oven on, on your piece of paper. 

Now repeat this process for everything else you're cooking:

Parsnips take about 45 minutes in the oven and don't need par boiling
Potatoes take an hour in the oven and need to be par boiled for about 15-20 minutes beforehand
Stuffing takes about half an hour to cook unless you're cooking it in a really deep dish. If you've got sausages or sausagemeat in the stuffing add on an extra 15 minutes. 
Pigs in blankets take about 40 minutes
Give your gravy 15 minutes to half an hour to heat through - closer to half an hour if you're adding in meat juices, cranberry jelly etc, shorter if you're not bothering. I don't think I bothered last year and no one even noticed! 

What I would also say is think about your temperatures - I cook the turkey at about 190 degrees, but would want the oven hotter for the potatoes and pigs in blankets - that's why I take the turkey out in advance so I can hoik the temperature up once the turkey's resting. 

Remember, you've got your half hour slippage. The only thing that had me foxed last year was the last half hour when I tried to stir gravy, strain veggies, put things in a serving dish all at the same time with a wrist in plaster. Then M came into the kitchen, I let him help and it was all fine. 

Last of all - check the oven. I left the stuffing behind last year and only remembered once we were all sat down. 

Here's my plan of attack from last year. Attached to the fridge where I could see it! In the future I might be a complete Guider and laminate it! 

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