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Every Christmas comes with the risk of kitchen disasters, so the more you can prepare in advance the better. Knowing how to organise your time, your fridge and your oven on the day can save you heaps of stress. Here’s exactly when you need to put each item in the oven.
On Christmas Day, it can feel like you’re juggling lots of different tasks.
Trying to remember how long things have been in the oven, working out when you need to boil the spuds, and how long the turkey needs to rest for can add unnecessary stress to the day.
So, to get ahead, you need this schedule telling you exactly what needs to be done, and when to do it.
Prepare as much as you can in advance – on December 23 and Christmas Eve you can get ahead on many of the side dishes.
Mince pies freeze well too, so if you fancy a fun family activity this weekend, get baking and then stock the deep freeze with mince pies, you can heat them up in the oven when you fancy a sweet treat.
Check you’ve got enough cutlery, glasses, napkins for your guests, it’s easy to forget about tableware until it’s too late.
Make sure you’ve got everything you need, and organise the fridge and freezer so you’ve got enough space to store everything.
Stock up on extras in case of last-minute guests: frozen sausage rolls, crisps, nuts and cheese are perfect for snacky lunches and spreads.
Try to make some time on Christmas Eve to get some crucial jobs done, saving you precious time on the big day.
There’s really no limit to what you can prepare in advance – Gordon Ramsay has even admitted to cooking his turkey on Christmas Eve and reheating it on the 25th.
Make your stuffing mixes, then wrap them in cling film and keep them in the fridge.
Peel your potatoes, boil them and fluff them up by bashing them around a bit in a pan or colander.
You can keep your fluffed up potatoes in the fridge, ready to be roasted tomorrow.
Carrots and parsnips can be chopped up and saved in the fridge.
You could even make your red cabbage today, and reheat it tomorrow.
If you’re cooking a big turkey for the family, this is the key ingredient you’re going to work the rest of your cooking times around, as it takes the longest to cook.
Most turkeys now come with a label letting you know how long to cook the turkey for, depending on its size.
However, the general rule to follow is to cook the bird for 70 minutes at 180C, and add an extra 20 minutes for each kilogram the turkey weighs.
So if you had a five-kilogram turkey, you would need to cook it for 70 minutes, plus 100 minutes, meaning you would need 170 minutes, or two hours and 50 minutes.
You then need to leave the bird to rest on the side for an hour after cooking to ensure it stays gorgeously moist – no one wants a dry piece of turkey!
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Based on sitting down to eat lunch at 1pm, here are our suggested timings for putting everything in the oven on Christmas Day.
8AM – Take your Turkey and stuffing out of the fridge to reach room temperature before you put them in the oven.
8:30AM – Preheat the oven while you prepare your turkey with oil, butter and whatever seasonings you plan on adding.
9AM – Stuff the turkey with the stuffing and once the oven is up to temperature, put the bird in.
Start your turkey timer by setting an alarm on your phone or on the oven timer, according to what you’ve calculated your bird’s cooking time to be.
If you’ve got a particularly big bird you may want to put it in the oven earlier, depending on what time your family likes to sit down to eat.
Keep basting the turkey regularly, and if it’s browning up nicely, pop some foil over the top to stop it over-cooking.
10AM – Set the table and get on with any last bits of peeling and chopping you need to do.
11AM – Check on the turkey, if you want to get a bit more colour on the top, remove the foil covering the bird.
12PM – If your turkey’s time is up, get it out of the oven and rest it on the kitchen counter for an hour or two.
Turn the oven heat up and put in the trays full of fat – either goose fat or oil, depending on your preference – to warm up for your roast potatoes.
After 15 minutes in the hot oven, you can put your pre-prepared fluffy potatoes into the sizzling fat.
This is the time to get any other roast vegetables in the oven too if you’re serving roast carrots or parsnips.
12:30PM – Get the pigs in blankets in the oven for however long their recommended cooking time is, if they’re ready before the rest of the feast they should stay warm if wrapped in foil.
If you’re serving extra stuffing balls, get them in the oven once you take the pigs in blankets out.
Boil the water for any remaining vegetables, and get them going while you make the gravy.
Now’s the time to shout for any spare elves to help you lay the table.
1PM – Everything should be ready now! Open the wine and enjoy!
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