Christmas is nearly here again, and you know what that means? Christmas dinner! At least one of them, but probably more like three or four once you count the dinner with the in-laws, a celebration with friends, the office get-together and maybe even more! While we all love the delicious spread of food that suddenly appears over the festive season, what we don’t like is the amount of time we end up spending looking up Christmas dinner recipes, thinking of side dishes, and stressing about getting everything just right on the big day. Or big days, should we say?
With just a little bit of thought, you can cheat your way to great festive season eating, with half of the time and effort it would normally take. Whether you’re cooking for one, ten, or fifty, we have some tips that can help you out. From easy dinner recipes through to hacks you just wish you’d heard about sooner, we’ve got you covered all the way to January!
Don’t peel potatoes the old (slow) way
We all grew up peeling potatoes for our parents as soon as we could be trusted to wield something sharp enough to take the skin off a potato or two, but unless you’ve enlisted the help of an army of children, peeling potatoes can be one of the most time consuming parts of any meal. You need so many of them, and it’s not always the speediest job.
An easier way to do this is to very lightly score a line around the middle of the potato with your knife – just enough to go through the skin layer. Boil the potatoes, then pour some cold water over them to cool them down enough to handle. The mark left from the scoring should be easily visible. All you do now is pull the skin away from the potato with your fingers. It’ll come right off, and you’ll have just performed the quickest potato peel ever!
Cook things the day before
Obviously, not everything tastes great pre-cooked. We wouldn’t suggest that you pre-boil your vegetables or chop up avocado for your salad the day before. However, some things can easily get away with being prepared a day early. Potatoes are one, but many desserts can sit for a day too. You can also prepare marinades and similar the day before so that everything is right to hand when you actually start cooking.
Learn to delegate and crowdsource
We know, everyone likes to show off their culinary skills when they have a gathering. The Christmas period, however, is not the best time. There aren’t loads of quick recipes available, which means you’ll be in the kitchen slaving away and losing out on valuable time off with friends and family. You can solve this problem in one of two ways. One option is to delegate tasks to guests, family members and friends and getting them to help by chopping vegetables, making salads, keeping an eye on gravy and sauces and whatever else you need a hand with.
If you’re a person who likes the kitchen all to themselves as they cook, you can also request that everyone to bring something to the gathering. If you’re doing this, tell guests in advance what to bring, and don’t make it something complex like joints of meat. Instead, guests can bring salads, side dishes and desserts, giving you time to focus on the bigger aspects of the meal.