Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas timings

You can be a little more relaxed on Christmas morning if you don’t get obsessed by an ideal of military efficiency, trying to prepare every dish so that it is cooked to perfection at the precise moment you are ready to sit down at the table.

First, the turkey. We’ve all struggled with turkeys that have stubbornly leaked blood at the moment when they were supposed to be ready. But, provided you do not try to roast the bird from a frozen or semi-frozen state, you should find that it is cooked through after you have observed the standard timings (20 minutes for each 500g, plus 30 minutes). Try to arrive at this moment at least half an hour before you’re due to serve the meal. Covered in a loose tent of foil, the turkey will remain warm, and hot in places; there will be no harm in resting it for an hour.

You now have plenty of time in which to strain some of the fat from the turkey juices, and to use them to make a gravy. You can reheat the gravy at the last minute.

Bread sauce may also be heated at the last minute. It will have thickened while cooling in the pan, and may need extra milk.

Stuffing, whether cooked inside the turkey or in an oven dish, does not have to be piping hot.

You can parboil the potatoes for roasting some time before you transfer them to the hot fat in the roasting tin. In my experience, potatoes that have been sitting around for a while emerge from their roasting no less crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside than those tipped into the tin while hot.

So the last-minute jobs are: cook the vegetables (which your sous-chef will have prepared earlier); warm the gravy and the bread sauce; transfer the vegetables (including the potatoes) and sauces to serving dishes. I hope you manage to delegate the carving.

Bread sauce
Christmas things - salt cod, barley pudding, sprouts, chestnuts
Christmas tips

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