Christmas catering hacks

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Stress about the weather, someone wearing the same dress as you at the work party, presents not arriving on time or being nicked off the doorstep, the onset of flu or whatever but really don’t panic about cooking at Christmas. We will spend an hour in the pub before lunch on Christmas Day and so can you. Here’s how:

  • Cook the stuffing, pigs in blankets and bread sauce now and freeze them all. Just heat them up for 10 mins when defrosted. Don’t buy packet bread sauce. It won’t save you any time at all and will stick to the pan. Do however visit this most depressing section of the supermarket to buy Paxo stuffing and mix it with sausagemeat to make stuffing. 
  • Revise your definition of ‘made from scratch’. See above. Google shortcuts to making lots of annoying things. Creme patisserie, for example, can be made by whipping mascarpone cheese and fresh custard. If Delia says it’s ok it is. 
  • Buy grated cheese (for cauliflower cheese, don’t freeze this it goes watery), puff pastry, chopped onion (its £1 fs) and an extra dessert. Brand this as ‘an emergency’ if you’re worried, as in ‘I’ve got an emergency trifle in the fridge, from the shop’, and do a slightly cringe face. 
  • Check out which of your neighbours are away and ask for a key so you can use their fridge/freezer/cooker/beds. If you already have a key and don’t get round to asking, check their fridge/freezer/beds before they return for evidence. 
  • Buy a meat thermometer or probe so you can check on the progress of your turkey while it’s cooking. Only a psychopath would do that skewer roulette thing.
  • ‘Hell yes!’ Is the correct response to ‘Can I bring anything?’. Don’t be fobbed off with crisps or Diet Coke. Keep your wits about you and ask for something genuinely useful like French bread (good luck trying to get that in the BP on Christmas Day), dog food or cling film. You may need to firm up intentions on this, especially in terms of quantity. ‘Some cheese’ for example is more stressful than no cheese.
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  • Serve dinner at 5. Any earlier and folks will start sniffing around for turkey sandwiches just when you’re emptying the dishwasher. Turkey sandwiches are the most annoying thing to prepare for lots of people. Put a cheeseboard our if this happens, some pate pickles and the BP French bread.
  • Put everything in the dishwasher. Saucepans, everything. Line baking trays with greaseproof paper so they’re easy to clean and use disposable foil trays if you can get strong ones. Cook and roast your potatoes until they’re nearly done the day before and finish them off on a lined baking sheet on the day itself.
  • Pace yourself. Pot kettle. 

You’re welcome. Merry Christmas xx

 

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Emma Page