10 tips for preparing your food early

So, you’ve been stuck with the responsibility to cook on Christmas Day. How you feeling about that? Loathed? We don’t blame you. There are many, many ways that you can jump the gun though. Get things in place, well organised. Preparation is key!

1. Gravy

You can make a tasty Christmas gravy long before the main event. Simply freeze it in a container, and defrost on the day. You can add the juices from your Christmas turkey to it before serving.

2. Stuffing

Stuffing freezes well – you can even freeze it in an oven dish, so once it’s defrosted, you can pop the dish straight into the oven. Some people go so far as to cook the stuffing before freezing, so on the day it only requires warming up: a good idea when oven space is at a premium.

3. Red cabbage

Red cabbage

Braised red cabbage is one of those foods that actually improves its flavour over time, so it’s well worth making in advance. It will keep a few days in the fridge, and reheats brilliantly.

4. Brussel sprouts

Save time by using what chefs call “blanching and refreshing” – boil the sprouts, drop them in cold water to stop the cooking process, then the next day just reheat them in a pan or in the microwave. You can do this with most other vegetables too.

5. Potatoes

Roast potatoes coming out of the oven

Some people parboil and freeze their potatoes to give them a headstart on Christmas Day. Personally, I like them cooked from fresh, but you can still get ahead by peeling and chopping them the night before. Keep the potatoes in a water-filled container overnight to stop them browning.

6. Turkey

Roast turkey

Many turkeys are oven-ready, but if you want to do anything messy like deboning, you’ll want to get it out of the way on Christmas Eve. You can also rinse it and pat it dry, and prepare anything you’re planning on filling it with – be it stuffing or something like chopped onions and herbs. Store them in the fridge in sealed containers.

 

7. Bread sauce

Nobody wants to be faffing around with sauces on Christmas Day. Bread sauce freezes well, but it also keeps for a surprisingly long time in the fridge – just make it a few days before, and you won’t even need to defrost it. Cranberry sauce can also be made ahead.

8. Parsnips

You can boil your parsnips and keep them in the fridge for up to a day before, to cut down on the cooking time on Christmas Day. Alternatively, you could freeze them.

9. Yorkshire puddings

Yorkshire puddings

If you’re serving Yorkshire puddings, you could make the batter a day in advance. You could also completely cook and freeze them, then, after they’re defrosted, just give the puddings a quick 5-10 minutes in the oven to warm them up.

10. Desserts

Christmas pudding, of course, can be made months ahead: simply steam it for a few hours on Christmas Day till reheated. Make sure any other desserts are simple and don’t require oven space. Cold desserts that can be made ahead and served straight away, like a chocolate mousse or a frozen dessert, are ideal.

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