Tips For Christmas CookingBy: Bob's Red Mill | November 27 2018
If you’ve never prepared a Christmas Eve dinner before, it can feel a little daunting. It doesn’t have to be, though, especially with proper planning and preparation. Always remember the old adage, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This holds true for prepping and cooking your first Christmas meal, too.
There is a certain amount of thought and time that goes into creating a great family experience around the Christmas dinner table, and our goal is to help you create that experience with as little stress and mess as possible.
How to Prep for a Christmas Eve Dinner
Planning, planning, planning. Figure out your menu and the types of foods you want to serve first. Make sure you get an accurate headcount of all who will be eating that night, and then plan your menu around that. Do all your grocery shopping a couple days before, so that you can begin to make certain dishes ahead of time and attempt to avoid the crowds of last-minute shoppers.
If you decorate your home, you should do all the decorating well in advance of Christmas Eve, because the closer and closer the day looms, the more hectic things seem to become. Make lists of things you need to get done and stay as organized as possible so that everything flows smoothly.
Once you begin cooking on Christmas Eve, be sure to wash up as you go to reduce cleaning time and keep your kitchen looking neat and ordered. You’ll feel better if you do this, we promise.
How to Time Your Christmas Eve Dinner
There are a few things you can do to time your Christmas Eve dinner and ensure it all goes smoothly. First, you need to take your turkey and/or ham out of the fridge and let it sit for a bit so that they warm up to room temp. You can preheat the oven while you do this as well. Once your meat is at room temperature, it’s ready to go in the oven.
While your turkey or ham is roasting, you can do things like open up the red wine and allow it to breathe and start getting out any pre-cooked side dishes ready to be warmed up. Once your ham or turkey is done, start placing your pre-cooked foods in the oven to heat, and allow your turkey and ham to cool so that they’re ready to be carved.
If you have any side dishes to prepare that haven’t been cooked ahead of time, now’s the time to get those out of the way as well and make your gravy and other sauces. When all your side dishes are cooked or warmed up, you can start placing everything in serving dishes and pop any bread rolls into the oven to heat. Carve your turkey and ham, set everything out and dig in!
Typical Dishes Included in a Christmas Eve Dinner
Everyone has a slightly different take on Christmas and the types of dishes they look forward to each year, but there are a few that you can almost always count on making an appearance. Turkey and stuffing are biggies for the main dish, as well as ham and sometimes roast beef. You could also try this turkey pot pie if you want to mix things up a little.
Veggie lovers will often make mashed potatoes with gravy, as well as carrots, sweet potato soufflé, parsnips or turnips, beets and other root veggies. Cranberries, beets and cranberry sauce are also favorites for many. And for a few southern staples at the holiday table, you can add corn, cornbread casserole and homemade mac and cheese to the list. When it comes to desserts, the sky’s the limit.
Crowd-favorite desserts are pumpkin pie, apple, cherry, blueberry and peach pie, fruit cobblers, and more. You could also try this delicious bread pudding if you’re at a loss, we bet your guests will be thrilled.
Making Desserts and Side Dishes Ahead of Time
Finally, do yourself a favor and make some of your desserts and side dishes in advance. There are a lot of sides that can be made the day before and warmed in the oven. Casseroles are great for making ahead and reheating, as well as veggie dishes like mashed potatoes, glazed carrots or sweet potato soufflé. Desserts are great for making a day or two before as well, especially things like pies, pastries, cakes and cookies.
Not only does making some of your dishes ahead of time save you stress and mess on the day of your family gathering, it just makes the whole meal flow better, so that all the food is ready around the same time and everyone can sit down and enjoy the meal together without worrying or fussing over something still on the stove or in the oven. So do yourself and your family a favor, and make as much as you can ahead of time.