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Guide to Cooking a Christmas Lunch

By: Laura Farrant - Updated: 23 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Christmas Lunch Timetable preparing

Preparing a Christmas lunch is not entirely dis-similar to organizing a military coup. Timing is everything and you have to keep your wits about you. We have put together a quick rundown of the day's events that you can use to guarantee a winning lunch.

As you will see from the timetable, taking on the responsibility of orchestrating this feast is quite a commitment. We don't want to alarm you but until your friends and family have tucked in, you will need to dedicate yourself to its preparation so take a deep breath and Ready Steady Go

The following timetable is based on the preparation of the following ingredients for a party of 8 people:

What you need:

The Main Course

  • 6.5 kg turkey
  • 200g streaky bacon
  • 150g soft butter
  • 1.8kg King Edward or Maris Piper potatoes
  • Parsnips
  • 1 kg Brussel sprouts
  • Gravy


Bread sauce
  • 450ml full cream
  • 1 peeled onion
  • 2 cloves
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 100g soft white breadcrumbs
  • 3 tablespoons of thick double cream
Bacon Wrapped Chipolatas
  • 24 chipolatas
  • 6 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 8-10 medium sized raw carrots, peeled and chopped.
Cranberry sauce
  • 2 clemetines
  • 200g cranberries
  • 100g muscavado sugar
  • 6 tablespoons port
Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without stuffing! You will need:

  • 1 large onion
  • 2 heaped tablespoons of dried sage
  • 4 heaped tablespoons of white breadcrumbs
  • 900g sausage meat

Quick tips:

  • Make sure that your turkey and the turkey tray will fit inside your oven. Many a host has fallen fowl of this before!
  • Defrost the turkey at least 12 hours before heating. If you have forgot to do this, prepare to blast the turkey at a high temperature for at least 2 hours and only serve to your guests once it is fully cooked.

Getting started

7.45am - Get up bright and early, grab a cup of strong coffee and turn the oven on. You need to put it to about 425F. In the meantime, stuff the turkey, which should be fully defrosted, in the body.

Mix your stuffing ingredients together. Finely chop the onion and mix in the sage and breadcrumbs. Lubricate with two-three tablespoons of boiling water, stir and add in the sausage meat. Place the mixture in the bird.

Then rub the butter over the turkey, concentrating on the breast, thighs and legs and lay the streaky bacon across the breast. Wrap the turkey in the foil.

8.15am - Put the turkey in the oven and blast it with heat for about 45 minutes. In the interim period, peel the potatoes and prepare parsnips for roasting.

9am - Reduce the oven's temperature. This is essential as otherwise you will be left with a burnt turkey. Ideally reduce it to about 300-310F.

Go and open your presents with the family, get dressed and get ready for the lunch. This is your only respite until the late afternoon, so enjoy it!

12.15pm - With a few minutes spare, prepare one of the essential side dishes - cranberry sauce. This is so easy to make that buying it off the shelf is just shameful!

Get your ingredients together: the clementines, cranberries, sugar and port. Juice the clementines and heat them in a pan with the cranberries, sugar and port. You should heat them until the cranberries have burst. Once this has happened your work is done. Simply add the mixture to a bowl and chill in the fridge until serving.

12.30pm - Increase the oven temperature to about 400F and let the oven warm up whilst you take the turkey out.

Remove the foil and the streaky bacon and baste (coat) the turkey with the cooking juices before putting it back in for another 30 minutes.

12.45pm - After basting the turkey, cook the potatoes.

The first steps are the peeling and parboiling them for about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander and shake them dry. Place them in a tin adding either a drizzle of olive oil or goose fat to the mix before putting them in the oven to achieve roasted perfection!

1.15pm - Take the turkey out of the oven but make sure you keep it covered with foil to keep it warm. At the same time, put the parsnips in the oven. Make sure they are clean, peeled and chopped into manageable chunks. Cover them with olive oil beforehand with a brush - otherwise they will dry out in the heat.

1.20pm - Its time to get the bread sauce ready. Pour the milk into a large saucepan, Insert the cloves into the large onion and simply add it to the milk, brining the mixture to the boil. Keep an eye on it.

1.30pm - Boil up the festive favourites - Brussel sprouts! If you want to give them a modern twist, boil them and then add them to a mixture of sautéed onions and sprinkle with a tablespoon of slivered roasted chestnuts.

Don't forget the carrots. These are a low maintenance but essential addition to the meal. Simply boil the chopped carrots in water, until soft. This should only take a maximum of 15 minutes and once they are ready season with salt and pepper.

Remove the potatoes from the oven. Start carving the turkey.

1.45pm - Remove the parsnips from the oven.

1.47pm - With a few minutes left before serving, you have some time to finish the trimmings! First, the chipolatas wrapped in bacon.

Ideally you would have wrapped the bacon halves around each chipolata and secured them with skewers. If time has eluded you, quickly do this now and then place the chipolatas under a moderate to high grill for 5-8 minutes. Turn them halfway through and serve straight away.

1.50pm - Remember the bread sauce? Take the onion out of the mixture and add the remaining ingredients: the butter, breadcrumbs and thick double cream. This will take only a few minutes and the mixture should be nice and thick. Now it is ready to serve!

2pm - Lunch is served!

3pm - Nip back into the kitchen and microwave your pre-made Christmas pudding - well there is nothing wrong with a shortcut or two! In the meantime prepare the brandy butter or custard - whichever you prepare. Drizzle brandy over the pudding and light carefully with a lighter for dramatic effect. Tuck in and pat yourself on the back.

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