For around 90% of us the thought of Christmas lunch is a mouthwatering, pleasurable feast, says Graeme Pallister, chef patron of 63 Tay Street, Perth.
. But for the other 10% – ie The Designated Cooks – it can be one of absolute dread. Composing a huge meal for more people than you can count is a sure fire way of guaranteeing sleepless nights and weeks of stress.
Here are my top tips for making it through and getting a tasty turkey to the table with the least amount of stress.
The Bird: Cook it to perfection the day before, carve it, portion it on to an oven tray with a little butter, a sheet of cling film topped with a covering of tinfoil. Make your gravy from the juices and reserve the stuffing in a fully secured tin foil package. You must ensure there are no gaps in the foil.
The Trimmings & Sauces: Grill the chipolatas until golden brown then use the same tinfoil package technique. Make your bread sauce and allow to cool; it will thicken but you can sort that easily. Make your cranberry sauce with frozen cranberries, sugar, port and orange.
The Veggies: In a pot of salted, boiling water, blanch your sprouts and carrots and whatever else you wish. Refresh in cold water, drain and dry. Using small take away tubs, individually portion each person’s vegetables, paint with butter and seal ready for microwaving. If you’d like sprouts with bacon, crumbs and lemon zest, make and use the foil package technique. Peel the parsnips and cut into equal sized wedges; peel the potatoes, quarter them and store in water.
Soup: Make a small soup course to give your guests something to eat while you put the finishing touches to the main.
Merry Christmas! The day has arrived and you’re already thanking me because everything is in touching distance and you’ve actually slept quite well.
TWO HOURS BEFORE
Pop on the oven and place two trays in there. Blanch the potatoes briefly in salted boiling water until the outside has softened but with solid centre. Drain well and allow to dry before you gently rub them together to fluff the outside.
ONE HOUR BEFORE
Put the grill on a low heat. Place the potatoes on one of the hot baking trays.
30 MINS BEFORE
Pop the parsnips on the other tray and season. Remember to give both these and your tatties a ‘shoogle’ now and again to even colour.
Get your turkey and vegetable portions out to room temperature. Heat your gravy, bread sauce (you will need a little more milk) and soup and place each of these in a vacuum flask – the quality will not spoil and it saves space on your domestic hob. Put the cranberry sauce on the table and be sure to tell everyone you made it!
Place the foil packages with the stuffing, sprouts and chipolatas in the oven with 20 mins to go. Grill the turkey on a low heat to warm through. Remember turkey shouldn’t be served piping hot as it will toughen and dry – you have the gravy to warm it sufficiently. Microwave the veggies and you are good to go!
You did remember to warm the plates, right?