Catherine's countdown to a stress-free lunch
Published 25/12/2011 | 06:00
This is a guide if you want to eat at 3.30pm and it uses a 5.5kg-6kg turkey serving eight to 10 guests.
10.45am: Remove the turkey from the fridge to bring it to room temperature.
11.45am: Pre-heat the oven for the turkey to 190 C/Fan 170 C/Gas Mark 6.
11.50am: Stuff the turkey -- see the suggested notes.
12pm: Calculate the cooking time and put the turkey into the oven.
12.45pm: Prepare the dessert if you haven't done so earlier.
1.15pm: Prepare the canapés for drinks -- cover and set aside. Get the glasses ready on a tray.
1.30pm: Turn the oven down to 180 C/Fan 160 C/Gas Mark 4.
1.35pm: Take the time to have a cuppa or a glass of wine! You deserve it.
1.45pm: Place the potatoes and parsnips into the roasting pan. Turn the oven back up to 190 C/Fan 180 C/Gas Mark 6. You can peel the potatoes the day before and keep them in water in the fridge.
2pm: Place the stuffing balls or stuffing loaf in the oven.
2.15pm: Prepare the vegetables -- Brussels sprouts, etc -- if you haven't already done so the day before.
2.45pm: Prepare the starter and plates; set aside in the fridge. Or warm up soup if you are serving this (you would have all the components ready, prepared the day before).
2.55pm: Start steaming/cooking the Brussel sprouts or beans.
3pm: Serve the canapés/snacks with the bubbly.
3.10pm: Check the turkey is properly cooked -- see suggested notes. Remove from the oven. Place on a plate to 'rest' and keep warm by covering with foil.
3.15pm: Make the gravy using a giblet stock made the day before. Keep warm.
If you are having Christmas pudding, put it on to steam.
3.20pm: Check the potatoes, add herbs and rock salt. Spoon into serving bowl and keep warm.
3.25pm: Finish off the vegetable -- eg, hazelnuts or toasted almonds for the Brussels sprouts or beans.
3.30pm: Serve the starter or soup.
3.40pm: Reheat the gravy.
3.45pm: Carve and serve the turkey with the vegetables. Don't forget the cranberry sauce.
4.30pm: Remove ice cream or frozen desserts from the freezer and desserts such as trifle from the fridge.
4.40pm: Serve the desserts.