Christmas Day Cheats

Christmas lunch with loved ones should be something to look forward to, yet it can be pretty daunting if you’re the one in charge of preparing and cooking it.

No one wants to be stuck in the kitchen all day making everything from scratch, which is why I have created a cheats guide to Christmas lunch.

1. Make ahead gravy – how good does this sound? Save time by making your gravy in advance from scratch and refrigerate or freeze until required. Then before serving on Christmas Day reheat in your turkey tray or add in roasted meat juices from your roasting pan and reheat (in the microwave or saucepan). Check out Jamie Oliver’s fab ‘Get-ahead gravy’ recipe for inspiration at jamieoliver.com.

2. Prep vegies – have you thought about prepping and marinating your vegetables a day or two ahead?

To do so, simply combine halved unpeeled chat potatoes, chopped sweet potato chunks, red onion wedges, chopped parsnip, whole unpeeled garlic cloves, fresh thyme and rosemary sprigs in a large snap lock bag (or two if you have lots of guests). Combine olive oil, a good squeeze of lemon juice and salt/pepper in a bowl and then add to the vegetables in the snap lock bag (you will need enough olive oil mixture to just coat the vegetables). Refrigerate for up to two days.

On Christmas, day transfer the vegetables into a large roasting tray or two and roast for about one hour in a hot oven until tender and golden.

3. Swap the whole turkey for a turkey breast roast – a whole turkey takes up a lot of room in your oven on Christmas Day and can be tricky to cook it just right. Why not swap the whole bird for an easy carve turkey breast roast (there are lots of options available in the supermarkets including ones already stuffed).

To save even more time and oven space on Christmas Day you can even cook the turkey breast roast the day before, cool/slice then transfer into a microwave safe dish and refrigerate overnight. Then simply reheat in the microwave until hot on Christmas Day just before serving.

4. Share Christmas cooking – this year, delegate jobs so you too can enjoy the day with family and friends. After all, Christmas is a family affair so have everyone involved. Before you allocate tasks for family members, think about what people are able to do, are good at, or enjoy. Some jobs you could allocate to family members could include:

– Cauliflower mornay bake: this can be prepared a day ahead, refrigerated and then baked on Christmas Day.

– Dessert: think ice-cream cakes, fruit mince pies, truffles, trifle or plum pudding with custard. All can be prepared ahead of time and transported to the host’s home.

– Fresh mint and cranberry sauces: these can both be made well in advance.

– Pre-dinner drinks: ask a family member to shop for and create a pre-dinner cocktail or ask them to bring along a bottle or two of wine.

– Salads: if you are having a cold lunch, ask family members to bring along a salad or a grazing platter with cheese, crackers and fresh fruit, like cherries.

I hope I have given you some ideas to save you some time on Christmas Day, which will be here before we know it!