I do a few things truly well; shortcrust doughs, convincing people to have a glass of wine, bringing generic conversations back to myself. However, what I do EXCEPTIONALLY well is Christmas. And humility.
Giving people unsolicited advice is 90% of my personality and the other 10% is being enthusiastic for Christmas, so here; 5 things to change your Christmas Day forever.
1. Borrow a Chill Box
If your fridge is like mine, then it’s probably an overstuffed riot. Of course, you should take the time to clear it out. There’s probably 6-month-old lemons, raisins that entered as grapes and 3 half-empty jars of the same condiment on each shelf. Regardless, cooking for Christmas Day takes up at least 3 shelves. Between your dry brined turkey, your chilling deserts and ALL the double cream, you can’t afford a precarious stacking situation. You have probably also engaged in apocalypse level bulk purchasing of your everyday items, just in case you run out of something ESSENTIAL. My gift to you; Find a chill box. Your parents will probably have one. If not, your cousin with all the kids DEFINITELY will. It is your secret Christmas weapon. It will free up shelves and help you stay organised on the big day. On Boxing Day you can set it up in your living room, within an arm’s reach, so you don’t have to disturb the mountain of celebration wrappers you’re accumulating to grab another “morning beverage”.
2. Get a digital thermometer
The number one complaint of turkey is that it is dry and flavourless. Can I just clear this up; we’ve been over-cooking our turkeys by about an hour. You cannot tell when a turkey is done by looking at the skin. You also don’t want to start hacking at it. Taking in and out the oven every 15 minutes to check “if the juices are running clear” will push your Christmas “lunch” back to 4:30pm. Everyone’s drunk, the turkey is dry, the roasties are raw. Do yourself a favour; get a thermometer for £3 and follow my next rule.
3. Undercook your turkey
When you cook a big bird like a turkey, the bones heat up and hold that heat for longer. So, listen to this very carefully, so I don’t get sued; take your turkey out when it reaches 69 degrees Celsius. The turkey’s bones will continue to cook the breast meat up to 73 degrees. Also, leave your turkey sitting for at least an hour before you serve it. There’s science behind it, but I don’t think I can hold your attention much longer. Just remember; pull out at 69. I’m sure you can think of a way to remember that.
4. Appetisers, not starters
Forget the soup. Have light appetisers ready on your living room table. Allow people to munch as they arrive; it allows you to concentrate on finishing the main meal. The general rule of thumb is only 1 dish should have pastry. Try to include a vegetable somewhere. Serve things that will complement what people are drinking.
5. Make a poignant toast
Christmas Day is over in a flash. Presents blend into recycling bags of wrapping paper which blends into “Did you keep a note of who gave you what” into “Can you stop taking pictures” “They’ll be here in 2 hours, can you please shower” “can someone please help me with dessert?” “Who wants tea?” “It’s a movie, two syllables?” “Where’s the Gaviscon?” “I thought I had another selection box?” Suddenly, it’s 1 am, you’re tipsy, hungover, on a sugar come down and it’s over for another year.
Take a moment before dinner to raise a glass, look everyone in the face and say something genuine.
P.s. you did have another selection box – check under the sofa.
Edit: My friend just told me to amend the opening percentages to 80% Unsolicited advice, 10% Christmas, 10% overusing punctuation.