Get your turkey to the table on time!

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Our in-depth guide to making sure your Christmas lunch goes without a hitch

Christmas Eve

  • Make stock for tomorrow’s gravy by placing the turkey neck and giblets in a saucepan with a chopped carrot, onion and celery stick, two bay leaves, a few sprigs of fresh thyme and 600ml of cold water. Bring it up to a simmer, cover and cook for 30 minutes. Strain and put in the fridge when cool.
  • Make bread sauce and cranberry sauce (if you are doing your own). Cover tightly with cling film and store in the fridge.
  • Set the table, leaving the floral centrepiece until the morning. Put any sauces, mustard and condiments on the table.
  • Wash and prepare the vegetables. Peel the potatoes and put them in a pan of salted water overnight. Peel and prepare the carrots and sprouts and store them in a bag in the fridge.
  • A frozen turkey needs to be taken out of the freezer to ensure it’s fully defrosted before the morning. Check the weight of the bird to calculate how long it will take to cook.

 

Christmas Day

  • 8.35am: Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
  • 8.40am: If your turkey is going to take up all the space in the oven, roast your potatoes and parsnips for 40 minutes now and finish them off later when the turkey is out of the oven resting.
  • Take the potatoes and parsnips that you peeled last night and parboil them for 10 minutes in salted water. Drain and give them a shake to get that crinkly edge on the potato when roasted.
  • Carefully tip them into a roasting tin with oil and put into the oven for 40 minutes.
  • 9.40am: Now is the time to put a 6kg turkey in the oven. Adjust timings for smaller or bigger birds remembering to allow half an hour to rest before serving.
  • Cover the turkey with foil until the last half an hour or so to prevent over-browning.
  • 10am: Prepare the pigs in blankets.
  • 10.15am: Baste the turkey.
  • 11am: Baste again. This is also the time to check that you have your white wine or champagne chilling.
  • Noon: Baste the turkey.
  • 12.45pm: Baste the turkey one final time then take off the foil so that the skin can brown. If you are making your own gravy pour excess juices from the turkey into a jug, leave to cool and pop in the fridge to de-fat.
  • 1pm: Open the red wine to allow it to breathe.
  • Put your plates and vegetable dishes in the oven to warm.
  • 1.15pm: Take the turkey out of the oven and check it is cooked. Cover it with foil and a clean tea towel and leave to rest.
  • 1.30pm: Put the pigs in blankets and stuffing in to cook.
  • 1.40pm: Put the parsnips and potatoes back in the oven to finish roasting and cook the veg.
  • 1.50pm: Make the gravy.
  • 2pm: Everything should now be ready! Get one person to carve the turkey on to the warmed plates while someone else puts all the veg into warmed dishes. Reheat the bread sauce in the microwave.
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