Catherine Fulvio's top tips to avoid Christmas dinner disasters

People should keep things simple and prep as much as they can beforehand
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.00 23 Dec 2023

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Catherine Fulvio's top tips to...

Catherine Fulvio's top tips to avoid Christmas dinner disasters

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

08.00 23 Dec 2023

Share this article

People should keep things simple with their Christmas dinners and prep as much as they can beforehand.

Families will soon be setting their table, or else going to visit relatives and friends and help with theirs.

TV Chef Catherine Fulvio has given us her top tips to avoid Christmas dinner disasters.


She said starters could be kept simple, such as tapas-style nibbles with hummus and Parma ham.

"Put little bits out and people can nibble and then that buys a lot of time, and then the only thing then is really the main course and the Christmas pudding," she said.

Catherine said people should give plenty of time to defrost their turkeys.

"If you are buying a frozen turkey do give yourself plenty of time to defrost it," she said.

"I would be thinking maybe three days in the fridge, depending on the size of the turkey for it to fully defrost.

"You have to defrost in the fridge.

"If you've a fresh turkey, just remember to ensure you have space in the fridge for that turkey.

"It's bigger than you think when you get it home."

Homemade stuffing, Homemade stuffing, 7-11-20. Image: Catrina Genovese / Alamy

Catherine said people can make their stuffing a few days in advance.

"Keep it in the fridge, it'll be fine - but there is a golden rule now not to stuff the main cavity.

"When I was growing up we used to always stuff the cavity.

"I would put oranges, lemons, onions, bay leaves all of that in the cavity and let the heat circulate.

"The turkey cooks from the inside out when the heat can get into the cavity.

"I've no problem with the stuffing, I think you get a beautiful flavour from the stuffing when it's in the cavity.

"What we're afraid of is people might absolutely pack that stuffing in."

Carving a roast turkey with stuffing, 6-4-12. Image: © John Kroetch/Design Pics via ZUMA Wire

Catherine said if the cavity is too full the heat won't be able to circulate properly.

"The juices of the cooking turkey, the raw juices, go into the stuffing.

"The turkey cooks on the outside but deep in that stuffing in the cavity you still have raw turkey juices - not something to really be wanting on Christmas Day".

Catherine said as oven space can be an issue, she gives minimal space to the stuffing.

"I make it in like a sausage effect with tinfoil and baking parchment.

"I do a long, narrow roll of it and I squeeze it both ends like a Christmas cracker and it just slides into the oven beside something else."


Catherine said in terms of timings, you should work backwards based on the turkey.

"You work back from the time of the turkey and the resting time and the turkey's always the first thing to go in," she said.

"The ham you could have done the night before, you could just slice it and warm it through.

"You want to glaze the ham and a ham can take up a full oven as well.

"The vegetables: a tray of roast vegetables generally you'd want a good hour for".

Catherine said another option could be stuffing balls, especially if you like crispy stuffing.

"You literally just roll the stuffing into balls and pan fry them, and then warm then through in the oven," she said.

"They're absolutely gorgeous, I do them all the time," she added.

Catherine said she generally leaves 45 minutes between the starter and the main course.

Main image: A traditional turkey Christmas dinner, 25-12-18. Image: Clynt Garnham Food & Drink / Alamy

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