Have you ever watched the show “Come Dine with Me”? Where regular home cooks battle it out with other contestants to host the best dinner party. I cringe and often scream at my television wondering why people eschew the importance of a prep list; I also wonder out loud, why people choose to make items they have never made before, in a pressured situation? Christmas is like the every man’s “Come Dine with Me”, so before we proceed, let me reiterate, DO NOT attempt dishes you or someone in your family has never made; who needs the stress?!
The following is my timeline for my Christmas dinner prep; I understand that your meal may look very different from mine; so use this as a guide!
Ideally all your groceries have been purchased, and this is the day to get yourself organized. Gather everything you need to make Christmas dinner come together; for example, I wash all the dishes and pull out any roasters, baking pans etc. that I’ll need on Christmas day.
I also make all the dessert components on this day. Dessert is often able to be frozen and thawed with ease. On the 22nd, I bake my cakes and cookies and any adornments they require; in addition to making my cranberry sauce. NOTE unless you are really confident with dessert, skip the fussy stuff. Trust me on this one.
If your turkey is frozen, you want to thaw it in the refrigerator today.
Set the table. It seems early, but again, it’s just one less thing to have to do. I stale my bread and cook my quinoa for stuffing on the 23rd; in addition to weighing out spices and seasoning. I do this because it eliminates the amount of stuff on the counter when I’m cooking Christmas dinner; I’m very sensitive to kitchen mess.
The 24th is the day when things start to pick up. I get an early start on the 24th because I always have a family gathering in the evening. One year, I imbibed slightly too much on the 23rd and got a very late start on the 24th- I paid when making Christmas dinner the next day.
Today is a HUGE prep day. I peel my carrots, peel and cube my celery root and potato (storing them in water until Christmas day); I suggest you prepare all your vegetables today- minus the actual cooking of course. The morning of the 24th, I place my thawed turkey in brine; but I want to note, in Edmonton a garage is cool enough for me to store my brining turkey until Christmas day, 0C-4C is the ideal refrigeration range; be sure that wherever you’re brining your turkey that you adhere to refrigeration temperatures.
Don’t forget to thaw your desserts!
Right when I wake up, before opening gifts, I take the turkey out of the brine, rub it liberally with organic butter, season, stuff with rosemary, orange, onions and garlic; and then wrap with parchment paper (parchment paper turkey).
Then it’s time to open presents and pop bubbly; I’m generally all set up so I can relax and enjoy the lazy pace of Christmas morning!
4 hours before guests are set to arrive, I ice my cakes, and get my dessert finished and plated; if they aren’t temperature sensitive, I put them on the buffet. Once I finish the desserts, I start on my stuffing; with generally around the 3 hours left.
Once the stuffing is baking, I get my celery root and potato boiling- which takes about 20 minutes. While this is happening, I season my carrots, get them spread out onto a roasting sheet and set aside until there’s 30 minutes until guest arrive; I do the same for the Brussels sprouts!
By this time, the stuffing is finished. I am lucky to have a warming drawer at my disposal, so I put 2 generous globs of organic butter (it’s Christmas dinner after all) on the stuffing, cover it and keep it in the warmer. If you do not have a warming drawer, simply add butter, cover, and before serving, fire it in an oven to warm through; the butter will keep it moist.
After the potatoes and celery root are finished boiling, I drain them and while they are still hot, I mix them with my coconut oil reduction until they are smooth and effortlessly creamy. I do the same process of butter and cover.
By this time, the turkey is ready to rest before carving, click HERE to find out how to know your turkey is done; once the turkey is out of the oven, and there is about an hour until guests arrive, I place my carrots and Brussels sprouts into the oven to cook.
In the meantime, I heat the cranberry sauce on the stove top.
When the turkey is being carved, and guests are arriving, I pour myself a drink because the hard part is over!
Once the turkey is carved, it’s time to feast, I always put the side dishes on the buffet first, and when everyone is salivating about the imminent feast, that’s when we WOW them with the bird. Then we break bread over a lovingly prepared Christmas dinner, enjoying a beautiful evening with family and friends.
I hope this guide helps you navigate the waters of Christmas dinner preparation. The key to remember is BE PREPARED, and stick to what you know; it’s your day to enjoy too!
I wish you all the happiest of holidays and a tasty and stress free Christmas dinner; thank you so much for reading, liking, sharing and being so supportive to the Vitality Kitchen in 2013. I wish you health and abundant wealth in 2014!