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The Get-Ahead Cook

Easy recipes for delicious home cooking. Signed copies available from Kitchen Essentials.

The Get-Ahead Cook

Christmas Sorted!

Did you know the lionís share can be can be done up to a few months ahead?

Just a snatched half hour or so here and there will be a godsend on Christmas Day and youíll be very thankful for your foresight, not least because of the considerably reduced washing-up!

If freezer space is short, all the suggestions below can be prepared up to three days in advance and refrigerated.

Twelve Get-Ahead Christmas Tips!

Stuffings can be made up to 2 months in advance and frozen.

Brandy butter lasts for 2-3 weeks in the fridge or can be frozen for 2-3 months.

Homemade cranberry sauce lasts for 2Ė3 weeks in the fridge,
or can be frozen.

Cook chipolata sausages and bacon rolls and freeze in the (shallow ovenproof) dish in which they are going to be served, up to 2 months ahead. Thaw the night before and reheat for 10-15 minutes in a hot oven until sizzling. Theyíll keep warm happily until you need them. Alternatively complete as above up to 3 days in advance.

When calculating cooking times remember to factor in at least
30 minutes resting time for the turkey before eating, which can happily, and advisedly, be stretched to an hour or more as long as the bird is kept somewhere warm.

Buy a sack of good local, all-round potatoes, which cost only a few ££ís. Great value and they will last for several months somewhere cool and dark such a garage, shed or porch - plus you donít have to lug them home with the rest of your shopping.

Potatoes for roasting can be par boiled (for 10 minutes precisely!) the day before. Drain and shake in the colander to roughen up their edges, then spread out in a roasting tin with a little oil or fat, ready just to pop into the oven next day. The fat doesnít need to be hot. Or prepare them as above a month or so in advance and freeze. Thaw before cooking.

Make stock for the gravy from the turkey (or goose) giblets up to two days ahead. Cover them with water, bring up to the boil with a quartered onion, bay leaf and any other suitable flavourings you have to hand and simmer for an hour, before straining and storing in the fridge when cold.

Sprouts can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. I like to halve or quarter them as they cook more evenly and look more appealing and

Always short of space, I use the car as an extended fridge, especially for a gargantuan turkey. As well as being cold itís rodent-free unlike the garage - just make sure thereís nothing sloppy, that no one drives off with the turkey and remember to do your best driving when the carís in larder mode!

Prepare parsnips ahead exactly as for roast potatoes, but only par-boil for two minutes. They too can be frozen.

Bread sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for 2-3 months. Thaw the day before. It may need a little more milk stirred in.


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Northumberland - Hetton House, Chatton (5)

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5 demonstrations

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