I have been cooking Christmas dinners for over thirty years, and in this time I have learned how to cut a few corners without compromising on taste or flavour. The key to cooking a stress-free Christmas dinner is to take some short cuts and if you think that this is cheating, well even Delia Smith cheats. The point is that you should enjoy the day whether you are doing the cooking or not.
This is especially important if you are cooking the dinner for the first time or if, for some reason, you are having to travel to a destination to cook.
Check out our guide and see if you can save time and hassle.
Don’t bother with a whole turkey, no one ever eats the legs and they just add to the cooking time and this extra time in the oven can cause the breast meat to dry out. Buy a turkey crown that is already stuffed and has the cooking times and temperatures on it. This will not only save you the trouble of having to work out how long you need to cook it for, but it will also save on the hassle of making your own stuffing. It’s also much easier to carve and there’s less waste. When cooking the turkey crown, lay it breast up on a bed of roughly chopped onions and herbs with a little water and completely cover with tin foil. Around half an hour before the end of cooking time take the foil off to crisp up the skin.
You don’t need to serve every vegetable under the sun on Christmas Day, Brussel sprouts are a must, but buy them prepared in a bag that you can microwave. Most supermarkets do them in a variety of fancy butters or with chestnuts or bacon or Parma ham to make them extra special and no one will know the difference. And if you think people will know you’ve microwaved them I promise you no one will be able to tell.
Carrots can be bought pre-cut into julienne strips and you can boil them and save the boiling water for the gravy, finishing them in the same pan with a little honey and rosemary.
There’s nothing wrong with buying frozen roast potatoes but again, supermarkets do some great ready to roast potatoes in a foil pack that you just stick in the oven. If you do go for frozen, get ones with duck or goose fat.
As with the potatoes, I would go for either a packet of prepared parsnips or buy them frozen. Whichever way you are cooking the potatoes cook the parsnips the same way and in the same roasting pan.
For speed and hassle free cooking buy pigs in blankets or sausages already wrapped in bacon and stick those in with the potatoes towards the end of their cooking. Don’t put them in with the turkey as this can come out and rest for at least half an hour (it will stay warm with a tea towel over it while the rest is cooking).
Buy a mixture of ready to serve gravy and a packet mix that you make up with the boiled water from the carrots.
Bread sauce is a no brainer, by no means make your own, there are so many great ready-made ones in the shops that it would be a crime against time and nature to attempt this. So save the hassle and buy a packet.
My final tip is that if you have a few guests for dinner then serve up the dinner yourself on the plate, if you have many then allow guests to help themselves, but carve the meat at the table and pass this round.