So, that was a rather ‘different’ year, wasn’t it? 2020 is perhaps the most unique in living memory, but for all the wrong reasons. With many of us stuck at home, worries of health and livelihoods filling our minds, and a general feeling of groundhog day perpetuating our psyche, many of us (if not all) will be wishing this year away, ahead of what will hopefully be a far more prosperous 2021!
Having said that, we still have Christmas to look forward to, albeit on a slightly smaller scale than perhaps our usual family get-togethers generally are. This Christmas you may wish to spend more of the day relaxing than you usually do, seeing as the small number of guests you be inviting over will most probably be aching to spend as much time with you as possible anyway! We sometimes have a tendency to spend a lot of Christmas day in the kitchen, and perhaps this year; of all years, an effort should be made to spend more time with our families, and less time slaving over a hot stove.
But, we obviously don’t want to be scrimping in any way when it comes to that delicious Christmas spread, do we? As one of the most popular meals of the year, cutting corners in regards to Christmas dinner could result in rioting by some members of the family! This is where a little prepping can come in very handy for your more sociable Christmas day plans.
Contrary to what some people may think, plenty of dishes can be prepped ahead of the big day and warmed up a few minutes before everyone sits down for lunch. As meal preppers, you have all the tools you need at your disposal (Igluu containers available in a range of sizes available here, if you don’t), so what exactly is ‘prep-able’ when it comes to Christmas dinner?
Ok, so the turkey probably should be cooked on the big day itself, but seeing as you are more than likely to be serving fewer people than usual this year, it might be an idea to let the supermarkets or butchers prep the turkey for you this time around. Turkey crowns are set to be hugely popular this Christmas, and whilst you may have a few ‘wing and leg aficionados’ ready to cause a storm, turkey crowns cook quicker, fit in the oven easier, and require no prepping. Simply pop in the oven, cook, and serve. You can still top your turkey crown with some bacon and rosemary, and pair it with some delicious stuffing (which we will come to in a minute) to give it slightly more character, but if cooking a whole turkey this year either seems too time-consuming or maybe a little wasteful, then do yourself a favour and get a more sensible sized option.
Roast potatoes, believe it or not, don’t have to be completely cooked on the day. Par-boiling your potatoes, allowing them to cool, and placing them in the freezer, can actually be done up to a month in advance. The final roasting segment should be done on the day, but the prep will make no difference to the end result, and will save you up to half an hour of valuable socializing time! Get the spuds prepped a few days before, and spend the free time having a sherry with grandma instead!
Stuffing can make or break a good Christmas dinner. Get the stuffing right, and it can liven up a turkey dinner, and placate even the most hardened “turkey is bland anyway” members of the family. You may have your own ‘family secret’ recipe when it comes to stuffing, or perhaps you want to give something different a try (such as this chestnut and cranberry version), but no matter what stuffing you make, so long as you have completely cooked it to completion, it can be stored for up to a month in the freezer, or for a few days if you wish to keep it in the fridge. Simply allow yourself enough time to reheat as your turkey is being finished off on the day, and serve.
Are your family fans of a red cabbage side dish? If so, this part of the meal can actually increase in flavour if made in advance. For a great tasting side dish of cabbage, gently fry some finely chopped onions for a few minutes, add one large chopped cabbage, the zest and juice from an orange, a tbsp of red wine vinegar, 150ml of port, and a cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil and simmer for around an hour. Once the cabbage is soft, you can let it cool and then freeze for up to a month. When reheating, add some water to bring the life back to the dish, and a tablespoon of brown sugar to give it a sweet taste. Perfect, flavourful veg!
Herb infused carrots
This one is extremely easy. The prep is all about the seasoning. Grab yourself around 80g of butter, and mash in a bowl. Add 1 tbsp of chopped tarragon, ½ tbsp of wholegrain mustard, and 1 and ½ tbsp of chopped parsley. Mix together, and cover in the fridge (for up to 3 days) until the big day. Then, slice some baby carrots lengthways and heat in a pan for 12 minutes. Drain the carrots, and slather them in your herby butter. Simple, delicious, and done in no time at all!
No doubt, this Christmas will feel very different from those that went before it. But perhaps in some ways, it will feel all the sweeter for what we have experienced over the last year. The opportunity to get together with a small amount of family, or even if we are celebrating with our immediate household, it is a time where we can reflect on the awful year just gone, and look to the next with a touch of excitement. We may not be over the pandemic yet, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Until then, we eat, we drink, and we try to be merry! It is also worth pointing out that this has been a particularly difficult year for your local shops. We aren't talking about your local supermarkets, those will be fine, but your local fishmongers, butchers, and greengrocers have had a year to forget. Some are still struggling to make ends meet, so if you are able to get down to your high-street, do yourself and your fellow townsfolk a favour, and shop local. Not only will you be helping out those who desperately need the business, but often the quality of ingredients is far higher! And if you can't visit in person, many family-run stores are now available for delivery online. Get on the web, and check them out!
Here at Igluu we would like to wish all of our customers a safe and happy Christmas. We will have one more blog post for you before the big day, dedicated to helping you use your leftovers in the most interesting ways possible! Until then, keep prepping, and happy holidays!