If like exhibit A below (yours truly), you prefer to kick back on Christmas day and just wallow in the magic and over indulgence of it all then you’ve landed in the right place. As you know, I’m partial to a bit of cooking, naturally and no matter how refined a menu, quite often you just can’t beat the cosy comfort of home-cooked food but on Christmas Day, the kitchen is the last thing on my mind. Unless of course, it’s to slice myself off another embarrassingly generous chunk of festive cheese or top up my tumbler with fourth helpings of Baileys.
When there are cocktails to be drinkin’, glasses to be clinkin’, crackers to be pullin’ and loved ones to be huggin’, the last thing I want to be doing is donning an apron. Whipping up an impressive festive feast is also tricky when you live in flat with limited cooking space.
So with that in mind (and a little help from HelloFresh‘s Ultimate Christmas Dinner Guide cheat sheet) here are a few handy hints for any fellow hob-dodgers and oven rogues during the festive season…
Prep like you’ve never prepped before
Admittedly some ingredients like potatoes, fresh herbs, cheese boards and good old Yorkshire puddings are best dealt with on the day but there are plenty of other things you could be seeing to beforehand to lighten your load. Things like carrots, parsnips and broccoli could be easily peeled and chopped a couple of days before Christmas and as long as you store them in the refrigerator, they’ll be just fine on the day.
If you (accidentally or deliberately) missed the period in which you should start the prep for a traditional Christmas pud or fruit cake then it’s a batch of homemade mince pies or festive cupcakes to the rescue. These can be baked ahead of time and ready to whip out post-roast.
Strip back and simplify anywhere you can
With limited kitchen space or limited dedication to anything other than present swapping, Prosecco and claiming all of the Quality Street green triangles, Christmas dinner can seem like Everest. Doing some simple swaps here and there, and sacrificing what you probably don’t really need will go a long way towards reducing your stress levels and improving the quality of the fodder you do dish up.
Ask yourself do you really need roast potatoes, boiled potatoes and mashed potatoes, or are you just being a bit… extra? Do you actually think your guests are going to get through those 12 trays of pigs in blankets you rammed your freezer with just in case, or would two or three trays have been fine? Is every single item from the vegetable aisle necessary or would some nice carrots, green beans, shallots (and Brussels sprouts if you must) roasted on one tray with some olive oil and seasoning do just fine? The answer to all of these questions is probably yes.
Don’t be too stubborn to accept some assistance
All of the best chefs in the world have a right-hand man or woman; a kitchen assistant if you will so don’t be afraid to accept the help of anybody daft enough to offer it. Enlisting the help of your guests to chop, stir or serve up, or getting the family involved in the whole Christmas dinner pantomime can actually be a whole load of fun. Using something like HelloFresh’s cheat sheet will just make sure you’ve timings locked down and all of those special finishing touches in check.
This post was written in collaboration with HelloFresh who kindly sent me their Classic Box in exchange for my own tips and advice.