If I had a euro for every time I was asked “are you all set for Christmas?” I wouldn’t be too bad off at all! It’s the one question we all ask each other without even thinking of the mild panic it sets off as we mentally list all that still needs to be done! And in true Irish fashion, we calmly reply with “as ready as I’ll ever be”, not meaning a word of it of course!
That said, Christmas dinner is the most anticipated meal of the year, so it is worth spending some time, planning for the festive season not only for the dinner, leaving you time to relax and enjoy the festivities which shouldn’t be an enormous challenge.
It is always a plus to choose favourite dishes that your family and friends love and that you feel confident making. At the same time there are many items that can be made ahead of time. So here’s a list to “get ahead”:
- The brandy butter and the cranberry sauce keep well in the fridge for 2 to 3 weeks.
- Salad dressings are another and can be made 4 to 5 days in advance.
- Salad leaves and herbs can be washed and kept for up to 3 days.
- If you’re serving a soup this can be made and frozen weeks ahead.
- Soak your ham for up to 24hours before cooking and I cook mine on Christmas Eve so it has soaked all day and saves me time on Christmas day and that means I can have a sneak tasting as well!
- Peel and steam the potatoes the day before, keep in the fridge – on the day, dust with seasoned flour or polenta and roast in goose fat – yum! If you prefer, simply peel and leave in cold water in the fridge overnight.
- Blanch the Brussels sprouts, carrots, broccoli the day before and keep them in a little water, covered in the fridge ready for you to use.
- Lastly, have the garnishes ready, toasted nuts and lemon zest, the rosemary, bay leaves and fennel in water in the kitchen and slices of citrus for the drinks.
- For sweet garnishes, making little homemade chocolate trees and swirls is a simple and those can be kept in a sealed cake tin in a cool place for up to a week
- Sugared cranberries and rosemary will keep for a day or two.
- Oven dry orange slices keep for 2 days
And finally take the time to enjoy the moments with your family and friends, a glass of wine and happy memories with loved ones is more important than anything else!
Wishing you all a very happy and relaxing Christmas!