In association with Lidl we offer up ten sure-fire ways to free up some time in the kitchen this Christmas so you can play a part in your own private party...
Even the most selfless hosts can often resent the amount of time they spend preparing and cooking on Christmas day but with these culinary cues you can be sure to win back some hard-earned minutes to revel in the festivities.
1) Saucy tip to remember
Jamie Oliver’s ‘get ahead’ gravy is the stuff of time-saving dreams. The master chef suggests brewing yours up days or even weeks ahead of Christmas day and freezing. When your turkey is cooked he advises kitchen wizards to pour their (now defrosted) recipe into the turkey tray and heat until piping hot!
2) Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
We love the idea of waking up to ready-to-cook veg and so does Savoy Grill chef Marcus Wareing. He’s an advocate of veg prepping on Christmas eve. Cut your parsnips at the top and tail and slice down the middle, then bag and refrigerate until Christmas day. He also suggests parboiling sprouts for two-minutes the night before and immediately pouring into icy water before bagging and chucking into the fridge. Then it’s a case of reheating in the microwave or pan (with a nob of butter) the next day.
3) Lifted and laid
That’s exactly how you’ll serve your family on Christmas day so rope them in the night before to lay and decorate the dining table before bedtime. It’ll take the stress out of last minute organisation as the guests arrive at the front door!
4) Stuff it
Who knew stuffing holds its own in the freezer? Mary Berry does and if the Queen of cakes is on to it then so are we. The Great British Bakeoff judge’s chestnut stuffing can be cooled and frozen after cooking. Just take it out the night before and crisp in the oven ahead of the main meal.
5) Less is More
The minds behind River Cottage advise concentrating on your favourite Christmas components and sticking with them. Don’t be tempted by last-minute delicacies sold to you on festive cooking programmes one week ahead of your bash. Know what you’re good at, commit and do it well!
6) Delegate like a boss
They say the best leaders know how to delegate and that’s exactly what you need to do to spend your cooking time wisely! While your turning up the heat in the kitchen nominate another member of the family to look after drinks. Have the glasses, cocktail equipment and garnishes ready to go the night before.
7) Accept help graciously
When a guest offers to bring a dessert, or a starter, take it. Accepting offers by no means undervalues your position as host with most. You will always be the kingpin of the main event even if you do opt for a supermarket cheat!
8) Get the bird bang on
Many top chefs agree that a thermometer is the greatest device (as well as a clock and perfect timing) to avoid ruining your gastronomic centrepiece. The night before cover your bird with salt, pop in a bag and put into the fridge. Make sure you take your turkey out of the fridge around 2-4 hours before cooking to allow it to rest. Once cooked, take from the oven, wrap in a butter-soaked cook’s muslin for an hour before serving. This will also free up some oven space for other dishes. And if you’re really worried about getting the bird right, a turkey crown will ease your load.
9) Spuds you’ll like
Peel and chop potatoes the night before if you prefer to cook your roasties on Christmas day. Ensure they’re put in a container of water to prevent browning. But if you really want to cut back on time you can part-roast until just about golden and finish them the next day. The safest shortcut is to parboil the spuds for five minutes the night before and shake in a colander to ‘fluff’ before bagging and refrigerating for the main roasting event the next day!
10) Roast and toast
Sometimes a refreshing gin or Champagne might just be the ticket to turning down the heat in a stress-filled kitchen. Stick on the tunes and sip away while whipping up your festive feast.