Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Christmas Meal Tips

Christmas Tips From Perfect Pans


General Tricks & Tips
·        Plan your meal now. Write everything down, so that you don’t forget about the important things. Include all meals, breakfast, lunch, afternoon treats, evening meals and late night munchies. It is always a great idea to have some treats throughout the day, such as homemade Cornish pasties. Don’t gorge on snacks during the festive season. Leave some room for the main meals. It can be tempting to snack and pick all day. Try to be disciplined

·         Look at alternative Christmas recipes. Try out some new recipes in advance. Practice makes perfect. Look at interesting ways to present dishes. Work out a Christmas timetable. Map everything out, particularly on Christmas day. Start times for the turkey, carrots, etc... Decide when you are going to eat and work back from there. Outsource or delegate. Get other members of the family to help out. Don’t burn yourself out. Keep things as simple as possible. Don’t be too ambitious, by taking on too much. Plan your menu and prep as much as possible in advance. Keep things as simple as possible. Don’t be too ambitious, by taking on too much

·         Work out your Christmas budget. There is nothing worse than over stretching yourself. It doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Shop around and get good deals. Look at online deals. Keep the costs down without short changing your guests. Ask yourself how much you really need to buy. Is everything necessary? The temptation is to fill the fridge. Try and avoid this. We tend to buy non essential items and really expensive wine. This does not have to be the case. Make sure that you use your leftovers creatively. Make a Turkey and Vegetable Chowder on Stephens’s day

·         Get the white wine in the fridge. There is nothing worse than warm white wine. In addition, get your red wine up to room temperature. Match the food with wine. Once you have decided on your festive menu, get some advice from your off licence or look online. There are some great websites that match food with wine. You can also buy all your wines online. Try


·         Make up a batch of mulled wine. There will always be people coming and going. A slow cooker is a great way to keep this warm without over cooking. You can also have some tasty nibbles such as miniature mince pies, biscuits, pastries. Light bites and treats



·         Make sure you have all your vital ingredients. Get that checklist out. Divide the list into perishables and non perishables. Buy your perishables in advance. There are many other vital jobs that get overlooked such as clearing out the fridge and freezer. Make sure that they are in good working order. Sharpen your knives, clean your over, and make sure you have enough pots, pans and roasting dishes. . Lay the Christmas table on 24th. Another job out of the way.


·         Make sure that you have enough equipment. Pots, pans, casserole dishes, knives, forks, plates, glasses, etc...It’s not a bad idea to have a spare hob, as there is so much to cook on Christmas day. You can buy portable induction hobs for £30. If you do buy an induction hob, make sure that you have pots and pans that are suitable for induction. Check our our Diamond range for quality Induction cookware.


Prepare the Turkey in advance


·         When choosing a turkey, allow about 500g for each person (on the bone).  This will give you enough for the meal with some left over.  So a 4kg turkey will feed about 6-8 people.  Don’t forget to make sure you have the right size tray for your bird and that it will fit in the oven. I made the mistake of using a plastic tray once. Oops... Don’t make the same mistake as me


·         Do not put warm stuffing into poultry. Do not over fill the cavity when stuffing your turkey, only stuff it ¾ so that the heat can penetrate so the bird can cook properly. Many cookery writers recommend not stuffing the bird prior to cooking. The stuffing can be done separately


·         Now weigh your turkey and calculate the cooking time.  For small birds allow 20 minutes per kg plus 70 minutes over, for birds over 4kg allow 20 minutes per kg plus 90 minutes over.  Cover the bird loosely with foil.  Remove for the last 30 minutes of cooking to brown the skin.  Pierce the flesh between the base and the thigh (as this is the last place to cook). If the juices are clear, the bird is cooked. If there are any traces of pink in the juices cook for another 15 minutes and test again.

 The best place to get cooking time for your turkey is :

·         To guarantee your turkey is moist and juicy, rest covered tightly with foil for 30 minutes before serving.

·         An alternative to a whole turkey is to buy a turkey crown. Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 180°C fan/Gas 6. Make a nice stuffing. Open out the turkey, skin side down. Put the stuffing down the centre and fold over each side of the turkey crown to enclose it. Tie up with 4-6 pieces of string. In a bowl, mix together a rub/glaze (40ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 1 tsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped, 1 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped, Salt and pepper, to season). Place the turkey crown in a roasting tin and brush over the run/glaze. Using your hand spread a generous amount of the rosemary mixture under the breast skin. Place the turkey crown in the oven and calculate your time - 20 minutes per 450g (1lb) plus 20 minutes, so a 4.5kg crown should take three hours and 40 minutes. Cover loosely with foil, which should be removed about 40 minutes before the end of the cooking time. The turkey crown will cook much more quickly than a whole turkey, so make sure to keep basting

Prepare and cook your ham in advance

If you have a boneless ham, cooked it and slice it when chilled. Line a roasting tray with tinfoil and place the slices into the tray. Brush the ham with a generous amount of honey & mustard glaze. Cover with more tinfoil. Place in the fridge over night and reheat on Christmas day. 30 minutes at 180 degrees should be sufficient.

Prepare your Vegetables in advance

  • To save time on Christmas day, all vegetables can be prepared in advance.
  • Brussels sprouts can be mashed. Use some ground nutmeg, pepper, salt and cream.
  • The carrots can be caramelised, using sugar and butter.
  • The Perfect Roast Potatoes
    • The roast potatoes can also be parboiled and finished off on the day. For the best roasties, duck or goose fat give a really delicious flavour. Buy good quality old potatoes (not new potatoes). Cut the potatoes into even sizes. Peel them just before roasting and do not leave them soaking in water as they will absorb the water and become soggy.
    • Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas 7
    • Place the potatoes in a saucepan, cover with cold water, add a sprinkle of salt and bring to the boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
    • Drain the potatoes in a colander. Gently shake the colander to fluff the outside of the potatoes
    • Heat the fat or oil in a roasting tin until very hot but not burning. Carefully tip the potatoes into the hot fat. Using a tablespoon coat each potato with the hot fat in the tin, this will help prevent the potatoes from sticking. Return the roasting tin to the hot oven and roast until golden brown and crisp turning the potatoes from time to time. This will take about 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

  • Roast Root Vegetables.
    • This is a lovely way to prepare root vegetables. Vibrant colours and amazing flavours.

o    Lightly steam 5 carrots, 3 turnips and 2 sweet potatoes or butternut squash, cut into 2cm until part cooked. Combine 1litre of cider, 100g brown sugar, 50g butter, ½ nutmeg and ½ tsp allspice in a non-stick saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring frequently. Add steamed vegetables and simmer for 5 minutes. Add 75g cranberries (or redcurrants) and continue cooking until liquid is reduced to a syrupy glaze and vegetables are tender. If syrup becomes too thick before vegetables are cooked, thin with a small amount of cider. When vegetables are cooked, transfer to a serving dish using a slotted spoon. Season to taste and pour glaze over top.

·         Creamy Au Gratin, Dauphinoise Potatoes. This is a lovely alternative to roast potatoes, as the roasties and turkey can often be very dry. Plenty of moisture and amazing flavours. Why not sprinkle with some cranberries

-Courtesy of Andrew Rudd