If you’re a new cook, in a hurry, or have a small kitchen, big events like Christmas can sometimes be daunting.
Often, people mistake what they can get done in the amount of time given, or they haven’t thought through the timing and order of the dishes to ensure the food is all ready at once. Christmas Day is a bad time to figure out you’ve run out of time.
Luckily, there is a way out of that situation at Christmas time if you think about your cooking in a slightly different way:
Enter Lazy Christmas.
Lazy Christmas rejects the idea that you have to have a turkey with all the trimmings for Christmas. It’s about making a great meal with a minimal amount of effort.
Consider buying a selection of cheese, olives, pickles, vegetables, nuts, fruits, crackers and breads to put down as an appetizer board. Everyone can snack on what they want and you don't have to do too much last minute prep (cheese can even be sliced ahead if you wrap the board in plastic and put it in the fridge). Lay the ingredients out artfully and put out small plates for everyone to eat from.
Most of the world does not celebrate Christmas with turkey. Christmas historically was a time when you prepared a special meal you couldn’t normally afford on a regular weeknight.
Consider looking at ham, which cooks quickly, a good quality beef or prime rib roast, a pork roast, even a chicken. Capons are fattier, more tender chickens, which are often heaver than a grocery store bird. They roast up great and you can use the chicken fat for roast potatoes, which is an old French trick.
Roasts have an advantage over turkeys in that they cook more evenly in shorter periods of time, which means you don’t have to rush after breakfast to put the turkey in on Christmas Day. You can also cook a roast with some vegetables (potatoes, parsnips, carrots, even firm squash) and the vegetables will pick up the flavors of the roast and vice versa.
Side dishes are often the thing people look forward to the most. It’s also an easy way to get carried away. Stick to two to three side dishes so you don’t run out of room, dishes or patience.
Consider sides that are casserole-like and you can prep in the days leading up to Christmas so you don’t get too tired. Bring these casseroles back to room temperature before you put them into oven to finish them off. For vegetables, try to find in season options, and present them simply, like greens with garlic, butter, and lemon juice.
Christmas dinner should be about family and enjoying the moment, not making sure your kitchen looks like a magazine. A little prep in advance, a slightly different menu, and remaining relaxed during the cooking process will make sure you can call celebrate and be merry.