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How to Get Ahead In The Kitchen Before Christmas!

 

What can you do before Christmas to get ahead & make sure that you have gallons of gravy, oodles of ice, bountiful amounts of breadcrumbs and enough stuffing to ensure that your guests are stuffed?

Food - Get ahead and use the run up to the big day to make as much as you can...

The weekend before Christmas, or even the week (when the children are still in school), is a great time to prepare as many side dishes and accompaniments as you can. So, clear that freezer, prep your pans, and beat the mad supermarket frenzy by getting in early - Lets Cook!

Equip yourself with bakeware, pans and trays that can sit alongside in the oven, and be frozen. One of the best things to do at your leisure a week before the big day is 'Get Ahead Gravy' (credit to Jamie Oliver here!). There is always one guest who loves to drown their meal in the stuff, and who can blame them! Make sure that you don't run out and make it ahead of time in large batches. You can always add any extra juices from the Christmas meal as you warm it. Here is our range cooker friendly recipe to add to the 'gravy pot'! 

 

Ice Ice Baby - There is nothing better with which to kick of a festive gathering, than a festive cocktail. Take the pressure off and avoid the last minute dash to the corner shop on the 24th by freezing ice and accompaniments ahead of time. Heres a great tip - water balloons! Who'd have thought it! For that 'high end' cocktail aesthetic, you can freeze these little balloons ahead of time and you will have large ice 'baubles' with which to adorn your 'short' cocktails. Your drink won't dilute quickly as it would with small ice. 

 

  

Breadcrumbs & Chestnuts - Making your own breadcrumbs is so easy, you can add your own flavours & it saves on food waste. From a couple of weeks before you do your main meal prep, start drying and storing bread ends. Whizz them up in a food processor, lightly toast/dry bake with dried herbs, a good salt and pepper and keep in an airtight container. They are the base of most good stuffing recipes and can be used in a nut roast too. Chestnuts also prepared in advance and frozen make a great side dish, eaten as a vegetable in their own right, or as a gluten-free base for a gravy or chocolate pudding.

Make and freeze your stuffingThis recipefrom Sarah Whitaker 'The Cast Iron Lady', is a great vegetarian alternative and can be frozen ahead of time in its trayor portioned ready to serve. 

 

Freeze Side Dishes - Time can run away from you on the big day, Sarah Whitaker's 'The 12 Days of Aga Christmas' book has a 'can I freeze?' indicator with every recipe. She coaches you through each recipe with familiarity and ease. You will have your freezer full in no time ready for the big day (thaw!). Katy loves this recipe for 'Red Cabbage with Port, Prunes & Orange' from the BBC.

Soup as a starter! - Are you clearing down your fridge to accommodate the Christmas Shop? I bet amongst the fridge's offerings are the ingredients to make a wonderful soup starter, or just a brilliant soup to serve in mugs ( easy to put in the dishwasher in bulk) after a crisp family boxing day walk. 

Vegetarians coming for lunch? - This fab festive nut roast recipe can be made ahead of time and be defrosted and gently warmed through on the day.

 

Do not neglect your cooker amongst all the festive planning and parties!  Here are Matthew's top tips for preparing your range cooker for the busiest day of its year! 

 

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