Christmas dinner is all too often far too stressful. Some of you stressheads are probably already worrying about it.
The inevitable stress of Christmas dinner is created by adverts, supermarkets and TV chefs and too much expectation, especially on ourselves...
Yes that's right. We make our lives harder.
Here is some perspective.
It's only a Sunday dinner for goodness sake and most of you do it 51 times a year anyway. In fact in my case it is a bit easier because we don't do Yorkshire pudding - takes up room better taken by Christmas Cake, Christmas Pudding and Mince Pies.
So if you are still in doubt here is how to make Christmas Dinner the easy way
- Turkey. It's just a big chicken and should be treated as such. That means 20 minutes per lb (just over 0.45kg for those of us who are metric) plus 20 minutes at 180 degrees. It really is that simple and if you are in doubt get yourself a meat thermometer and give your oversized chicken a poke. If it says 75 degrees or over its cooked! Also ask yourself if you need the whole bird. A crown is perfectly good for an average sized family and a large breast for a smaller one. Of course such cuts can't be stuffed which brings me to my next point.
- Stuffing - regardless of what Jamie Oliver says you do NOT need a shoulder of pork, onions breadcrumbs, pine nuts and whatever else he throws in to make stuffing..There is a wonderful inexpensive product widely available called Paxo. Add boiling water and voila - ready to go. And if you are feeling particularly adventurous just de-skin a couple of sausages and throw the sausage meat in with it. For me that is a bit of a faff when doing pigs in blankets anyway. Why add more sausage when you are already having it?
- Pigs in Blankets. Just wrap some sausage in bacon and hold them together with skewers or cocktail sticks. They only need an hour or so. Consider uncovering your turkey and skewering the turkey with the skewers / cocktail sticks and then the juices with run all over the turkey effectively basting it for you.
- Gravy, - Don't bother making it from scratch. Again Jamie why are you making life hard for your fans. As with Paxo, just go and get yourself some Bisto. (Use the Poultry one in the yellowish orange packaging) If you are feeling particularly adventurous why not fry off a bit of onion in butter and then add it to the instant and keep it on the hob so the silky texture and sweet taste of the onion permeates everything to make a silky smooth rich gravy as good as any high end gravy you can find. Keep it simple people.
- Vegetables...If people don't like sprouts don't waste time on them and certainly don't try to sex them up to make them more palatable by shredding and frying them with bacon. Choose veggies you like and keep it simple while remembering how much hob and oven space you have.
- Roast potatoes. Make sizeable ones and chuck them in the oven with the bird. If the skin is good enough consider roasting them skin down. This reduces the chances of them sticking and you losing the best bits of them. Parboil if you like, but I often find I don't need to.
- Christmas Pudding, Cake and Mince Pies. Keep it simple just go out and buy them. Mince pies are not such a challenge but do you really want to take up more precious time that could be spent doing other things and especially at Christmas? Normally buying is not so cost effective unless you are inspired by Jamie to go mad on fresh ingredients but it's only Christmas once a year. Also why faff with brandy butter or brandy sauce when good old Bird's custard is more than good - again if you feel lazy go for the instant although I personally prefer the tub.
- Get the family involved. If they are good enough to eat your food they are good enough to help out with the prep, laying the table and sorting the kids out. They can also muck in with the washing and drying up - it's a family time after all. You are not running a restaurant.
- Last but not least ensure everything is sorted and away before you sit before the King and start drinking and stuffing yourself with nuts and endless chocolate (well maybe not so endless now they are downsizing the tubs.
Enjoy Christmas - don't let it stress you out. Keep it simple.
As always stay safe and well my friends.