Christmas lunch: plan, plan and more planning!

We’re less than 3 weeks away from the big day, and if like some of us you are hosting a big family lunch then you may wish to read on!

No knickers getting in a twist here please; military precision is what is needed so you can get to enjoy the day and not be stuck in the kitchen swearing like a sailor! Although everyone’s ideas of Christmas vary and we all have our own traditions, we can all agree that the lunch takes a starring role. Here are a few pointers on what you can do to get ahead and some of our favourite Christmas recipes that you may like to incorporate into your family Christmas…

3 weeks to go (i.e. now!)

Turkey is ordered yes? We love Chart Farm for all your meat requirements! Keep stock piling all the non perishable items when you’re at the supermarket so you aren’t madly flapping around Tesco’s on Christmas eve. Think napkins, matches, batteries, toilet roll, washing up liquid, kitchen foil, crackers, crackers for cheese, biscuits, chocolates, bread for freezing, long life milk, cakes etc. Grab all the BOGOFs, 3-for2 offers and any bargains you can get your hands on especially on alcohol & soft drinks.

There’s certainly a few side dishes you could make well ahead of time. Cranberry sauce, stuffing and gravy! We love Jamie Oliver’s get ahead gravy – you can make this now and freeze it, then defrost it overnight so it’s ready on Christmas Day for you to add the turkey/duck/goose juices to.

There are hundreds of cranberry sauce recipes out there but we are fans of Delia’s classic cranberry sauce paired with orange zest. Again you can make this well ahead of time, freeze it in a glass container and defrost overnight.

Chestnut stuffing is another classic, and can be made 2 weeks ahead of time. Here’s a lovely recipe from Waitrose.

A few days before Christmas Eve 

It’s a tricky one with regards buying veggies. If you’ve been super organised and booked a delivery slot back in the summer then brownie points to you! If you’re hoping to chance it close to the big day then it’s certainly a gamble. To hold out to just before Christmas to ensure they are nice and fresh but risk staring at raided shelves in a chaotic supermarket or to cross your fingers and hope the sprouts you bought last week won’t be withered on Christmas Day?!

For sure, you can make your braised red cabbage up to two days in advance and keep it in the fridge. Again we love Delia’s classic recipe which is made with apples. It’s the perfect combination of tartness and spice and can easily be reheated on the day. Without banging the Delia drum too much, we can also vouch for her Bread sauce recipe. This can be made ahead, refrigerated and then the final step at the end where you remove the spiced onion and add the cream and butter can all be done just before serving.

Christmas Eve

Rally the troops! You will need help! Lay the table with crackers, napkins, place names (perhaps get the kids to make these to keep them busy and out of your way?) Peel your spuds, carrots, and parsnips. You can leave them overnight in pans full of water ready for parboiling in the morning or you can par boil and then refrigerate overnight depending on which recipes you chose. Prepare you sprouts by washing and halving them. Defrost your turkey if it’s frozen. Make sure your wine is chilled and the ice trays are full!

Christmas Day is here!

So depending on what time you plan to eat, depends on what time you put the turkey in but make sure you get it out of the fridge first thing so it’s at room temperature. You then will need to stuff the turkey with your chosen stuffing (either the chestnut recipe we mentioned earlier) or a meaty one with pork mince. Jamie Oliver shares a simple recipe and approach to turkey cooking timings. Jamie also shares some top tips on how to get the perfect roast potato – the secret is to jig them around in the colander after par boiling and then later to push them down with a masher! You can read his perfect Roast Potato recipe here, but we’re fans of the classic goose fat, rosemary and garlic!

We love to blanche sprouts and then drain them, stir fry pancetta until it’s crispy and add back the sprouts and chestnuts. Or for something a little different how about Sprouts with hazelnut and orange butter?

Thank you to Mandy from Simply Food for pointing us in the direction of this amazing Maple Roasted Carrots with Cranberries recipe from Lazy Cat Kitchen. We haven’t made this yet but it sounds delicious and it’s certainly going to be featuring on Christmas Day. And finally… to the parsnips. Riverford have featured this delicious oven-baked Parsnip recipe which features parmesan and polenta. Trust us, it works a treat! And finally, don’t forget to put the Christmas pud on simmer while you’re tucking into lunch!

And with a bit of jiggery pokery and several glasses of champagne, a Christmas Feast is served!

We are not going to wish you good luck because you won’t need it after reading this! Just relax and enjoy the fabulous day ahead. Cheers to you! xx


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