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At some point, unless you are incredibly fortunate, you are going to have to cook Christmas lunch rather than eat it. This is a guide to try and have lunch on the table as stress-free as possible. The key is not to panic about when you’ll sit and eat. Hot gravy covers up all sorts of cool offerings – but make sure your roast potatoes are straight out of the oven!
Roast turkey with stuffing, roast potatoes, pigs in blankets, roasted veg, sprouts, bread sauce and gravy
Christmas pudding, mince pies and brandy butter
Trim the sprouts and seal them in a bag in the fridge.
Peel the carrots and parsnips, cut into about 2" pieces and seal them in a bag in the fridge.
Prep the sausages and bacon for the pigs in blankets. Use streaky bacon, and stretch out each rasher using the blunt edge of a knife, then cut into three. Wrap a cocktail sausage with a piece of bacon and lay on a baking tray.
Thinly spread cream cheese over a halved bagel, add a layer of smoked salmon and season with pepper and a little lemon juice. Drop a caper on the top (optional) and lay it on a plate to serve. Perfect with champagne preferably and as finger food while everyone chats.
Your cooking times are going to vary depending on your bird. As turkeys are big, you should have enough time – as long as it is all ready to go straight into the oven – to roast your potatoes, veg and sausages once the turkey is cooked and resting.
The sprouts, bread sauce and gravy are done on the hob at the end.
Weigh the bird after stuffing for your cooking time.
Using store bought sage and onion stuffing is totally fine. Stuff it in (do take the giblets out!) but don’t fill the bird completely; add half a lemon and some fresh thyme and rosemary. Tuck the skin in under the bird or secure with thin skewers.
Rub butter and sprinkle salt and pepper on the skin of the bird, put some water in the base of the roasting tin and cover loosely with foil – you want air to be able to escape but the bird to be covered. Cook at 220°C for the first 20 minutes, then at 180°C. Baste the bird every 30 minutes or so, then take the foil off to brown the skin for at least the last half hour. To check the bird is done, stick a thin skewer deep into the thigh area – the juices should run clear.
Once cooked, rest the bird loosely covered with foil in the kitchen somewhere warm out of the way! It should come out of the oven about 45 minutes to an hour before you want to sit and eat. Pour the juices into a saucepan and leave them to cool.
Get good roasting potatoes, try Maris Pipers, and peel and cut into quite large chunks. Try and get the chunks the same size. Rinse in cold water then bring to the boil. Boil for two minutes exactly, then tip them into a colander and rough them up a bit. Sprinkle over a tablespoon or two of flour. Heat the duck fat (or just veg oil is fine) in your roasting tin on the hob – you want the potatoes to sizzle as you carefully spoon them in. Spoon the hot fat/oil over them then into the hot (200-220°C) oven they go. The potatoes should lie in one layer for good, crisp roasties. Turn the potatoes every 20 minutes so they brown all over. They will take about 45 minutes.
Peel some garlic and add the whole cloves to the carrots and parsnips in a baking tray. Pour over some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Mix it all with your hands and pop in the oven. These will take about 30 minutes – turn them half way through.
The pigs in blankets take about 30 minutes too, so pop these in the oven when the veg go in, and turn them half way through too.
Gravy and Finish
Once the turkey juices have cooled, skim off the fat. To make the gravy, heat the turkey juices and add a little flour and cook for a couple of minutes. Mix with some gravy granules and water to make a thick gravy then, when the sprouts are cooked, use some of that water to get the gravy to the thickness you want.
Use a bread sauce sachet and add the milk. This takes minutes, but as it’s milk, it’s prone to overboiling! Heat slowly and stir often.
Carve the turkey then boil the sprouts (just five minutes for a good, crunchy sprout), serve and enjoy!
Unless you’ve made Christmas pudding well in advance, go store bought. If you don’t like brandy butter, then cream and/or ice cream are perfect.
Prepare the vegetables and the sausages & bacon.
Prep the roast potatoes (peeled, cut and sitting in cold water).
Make the salmon starter.
Heat oven, prep and cook the turkey.
Add the garlic, oil & seasoning to the veg.
Rinse, boil and flour the potatoes.
Heat the fat, potatoes in the oven.
Veg & sausages in the oven.
Collapse on the sofa.