Christmas dinner hacks

You all may think I am insane with some of these and your mother in law may shoot you but to be honest with you, I would much rather enjoy my Christmas day with my family than slave away cooking when I could do all the prep WELL in advance.

Turkey: Ah yes, the big bird. We always get a large or extra large as we love turkey leftovers! Cold for boxing day with salad, potatoes you name it, in a stew, in a pie, in a curry, biryani, Korean hotpot! Endless uses.

What do I do? I put foil over the wings and thin part of the leg, cover the rest in plenty of salt and pepper and streaky bacon (no I do not eat that part, that is dad’s favourite) cover the turkey with foil making sure its sealed in and right before I go to bed it goes into the oven at 100C for the next 12 hours! At which point you remove from the oven and crank up the heat to 200C removing the foil from the turkey saving it for later, pour the juices into a pan for the best gravy of your life (syns are well worth it) and put the turkey back into the oven for 20 minutes or until the temperature of the thickest part (thigh) reaches 74C. Remove from the oven and cover with foil and 2-3 clean bath towels out of the way to rest. It will stay hot for hours while you finish your veggies! Speaking of which..

Potatoes: Must be done on the day! You want to parboil your potatoes for 10 minutes in salted water (i love adding some rosemary to the water too), when you drain the potatoes give them a very good shaking until the edges rough up and sprinkle over 1 tbsp of semolina. Line a tray with foil and preheat in the oven which is now at 200C. Use your choice of cooking oil or spray to coat the potatoes lightly before pouring them onto the hot tray and placing into the oven. (they should take around 40 minutes to cook).


Parsnips and carrots: The only way we would have got our nanny pat to eat cooked carrots was roasted! A day before to make it easier I peel and parboil the carrots and parsnips with a slice of lemon. I drain them and put them into a foil tray adding 1 tsp of honey a generous pinch of salt, pepper and thyme and toss them, leave them to cool before covering and putting in the fridge. Remove them from the fridge an hour before baking them (about when you get the turkey out) you want to spray them in your chosen spray or oil before putting the tray into the oven halfway through when the potatoes are done.

Brussel sprouts: I honestly hate them. The only way I will eat them is thinly sliced in a stir fry but here is how we made them last Christmas! The day before my nanny pat peeled the sprouts and put a cross in the bottom of them (don’t ask me why it’s just something we have always done, I don’t know what it does!) I par-boil them until I can just stick a fork in them then I drain them and cool them and put them in the fridge. On the big day I fry up some smoked bacon and chestnuts and my dad adds butter (but again you won’t see me touching a sprout, I attempt every year and every year I fail) and we fry them until the Brussels start to crisp up a little and then we season to taste.

There are some other things we have like pigs in blankets and we always get my little sister to help wrap the sausages because there is no way we will pay £3 for 12 inch long sausages when we can get more bang for our buck making our own.

If I have learnt anything its make everything ahead if you can.. Even the stuffing (which I then put back in the oven on the day to cook), Yorkshire and veggies.

It’s Christmas! Yes, butter and syns are there but its one day a year. Treat yourself but don’t go making yourself ill.

I hope you have fun, spending time with your loved ones while you can this Christmas as this year has been very hard for all of us losing my lovely grandad and my wonderful nanny pat and most recently our gorgeous Weimerana. So put down your phone and laptop, hug the auntie that gives you a slobbery kiss, hug your uncle that always smells weird or makes weird jokes and love fully. Christmas is a time to show you what the present really means. Life is a gift so live it to the fullest.

Merry Christmas,

Love Emily, Chef who slims x


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