Are you cooking Christmas dinner for the 1st time this year?

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15.31 10 Dec 2020

Are you cooking Christmas dinner for the 1st time this year?

Listen to this episode

Share this article

15.31 10 Dec 2020

Lots of people are planning a different Christmas this year, because of covid maybe they can’t be around family or aren’t travelling to see the people they usually would – and for that reason may be cooking the Christmas dinner for the first time – a daunting task! Are you one of those people? Are you prepared, apprehensive or excited? Andrea hears from listeners and gets some festive cooking tips from celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio.

Christmas Day Countdown for the Cook 

Prepared by: Catherine Fulvio 


Catherine Fulvio, author, chef, owner of Ballyknocken House and Cookery School and has just launched her new On-Line Cookery School on , a fully comprehensive on-line learning platform where the emphasis is on cooking with curiosity.  There’s a full Christmas course there too along with Italian and 7 Nights, 7 dinners, 1 Plan – plus a 13-week student and transition year certificate course and access to live classes with Catherine 

now that’s a Christmas gift worth giving! 


Getting Ready for Christmas  


Top tip: keep it simple – plan menu, test new recipes 

Order the turkey and ham in good time.  

Check that you have sufficient cutlery and delph, glassware and napkins.  

A week ahead of time, check that the delph and glasses are clean and polished.    

Keep your recipes to hand. 

Do the shopping in good time.    



A rough guide for serving, we probably won’t be needing a large turkey this year, here are guidelines.   

2 to 2.5kg                    4-6 people  

3kg                              6-7 people  

3.5kg                           7-8 people  

4 to 4.5kg                    8-10 people  

5.5kg                           10 – 12 people  

6 to 6.5kg                    12 to 15people 


2 weeks ahead  

Brandy butter – keeps very well in the fridge.  

Freeze breadcrumbs for the stuffing.   

Cranberries can be frozen and the cranberry and orange sauce can be made up.  

Freeze berries so that you can decorate with them 

Canape bases – pastry discs or croutons and ever small scones can be frozen.  Allow to defrost and bake in a hot oven.  Open pastries can be frozen with parchment paper in between, covered with plastic wrap. 

Prepare an extra vegetarian tagine or lasagne for those busy evenings and you will be so pleased that you have done this.  

Prepare desserts semifreddos, cheesecakes, Christmas bombes. Roulades freeze very well.  Just allow sufficient time for defrosting. 


A week ahead  

Make the gravy – freeze it, all you need is to add the roasting juices on the day. 

Order / purchase the drinks.  

Do most of the ingredient shopping leaving veg and fruits to 2 days ahead. 


Christmas Eve 

  • Peel (or get someone to peel…) all veg – cartos, squash, sprouts, spuds 
  • Prepare starter – salad, dressing etc / soup 
  • Make trifle 
  • Make cranberry sauce 
  • Make gravy – juices from turkey can be added tomorrow 
  • Make stuffing 
  • Make pancake mix for breakfast 
  • Soak the ham in cold water overnight. 
  • Make the ham glaze 
  • Make sure that your wines and drinks are chilled.  
  • Prepare the fruit for the punch or mulled wine  - the spices and herbs etc.   
  • Set the table – or get someone to do it for you…..  



Christmas Dinner Countdown 

To start serving at 5pm. Canapes and Punch  

Using a 5 - 6 kg turkey serving 8 – 10 guests   

Ham – 2.5- 3kg ham serving 8-10 guests 


Keep the recipes and planner in a safe, easy to find place – on the fridge.  


Timetable on the day 


Christmas Breakfast for the Family  


9:30     Everyone will be up early, much excitement that Santa has arrived. 

Cinnamon Drop Scones with Orange Maple Syrup to fill the hole in the tummy! 

(The dry ingredients for the drop scone mix can be prepared a few days before).        A fresh fruit platter with mangoes, blueberries, pomegranate seeds – for a lighter and healthier start to the festive day. 


12:00   Remove the turkey from the fridge to bring it to room temperature 

12:45   Preheat the oven for the turkey to 190C/Fan 170C/Gas6. 

12:50   Stuff the turkey. Place the turkey, skin-side up, on a clean board.   

Ease the skin from the meat with your fingers beginning from the neck end without 

breaking the skin. Using your fingers gently pack some of the stuffing under the  

skin. Secure the neck flap and tie the turkey legs together.  

1:00     Calculate the weight and cooking time – Weigh and calculate the roasting time 

for the turkey – generally this is 25 - 30 minutes per kg plus an extra 30 minutes.  

Add a little oil to the roasting pan, place the turkey in, breast side up.  

Brush a little butter over the bird. This is now ready for basting.  

1:10     Place the turkey into the oven 

1:40     Turn the oven down to 180C/Fan 160/Gas 4. Baste the turkey with the glaze. 

1:45     Strain off the water from the steeping ham, place in a saucepan and cover with cold water, add bay leaves, onions and peppercorns.  Bring to the boil, then simmer – allow 2 hours. 

2:05     Baste the turkey again.   

2:10     Start preparing the canapés for drinks – cover and set aside. Get the glasses  

Ready on a tray for the punch.  

2:30     Baste the turkey then Take time to put your feet up – have something to drink.  

2:40     Place the potatoes and or roasted root vegetables into the roasting pan turn  

the oven back up to 190C/Fan180C/Gas 6.   

3:00     Baste the turkey.  Shake the roasting pan with the potatoes, turn the oven back to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4.   

Place the stuffing balls or stuffing loaf into the oven.   

3:30     Assemble the starter, present on the serving platter – place in fridge. Warm the  

soup if you are serving this.  

Prepare all the components the day before. 

3:45     Remove the ham, allow to cool slightly, remove the fat and score into diamond pattern. Insert cloves  

4.00     Start steaming / stir frying / cooking for eg the Brussels sprouts or beans.    

4:15     Check the turkey that it is properly cooked   

Remove from the oven.  Place on a platter to. “rest” – keep warm –  

covered with foil. Retain the juices for the gravy. 

Glaze the ham and place on the oven – 30 minutes approx 

4:25     If you are having Christmas pudding put it on to steam. 

4:30     Check the potatoes, add herbs and rock salt. Spoon into serving bowl and keep warm. 

4:40     Finish off the vegetables eg, hazelnuts or toasted almonds for Brussels sprouts  

4:45     Finish the gravy. Keep warm.  

Remove the ham from the oven and keep warm 

5:00     Serve the canapés / snacks with the punch or cocktails. 

5:15     Serve the starter or soup.  

5:45     Heat the gravy. 

6.00     Carve and serve the turkey with the vegetables. Don’t forget the cranberry  

and orange sauce and the gravy.                                  

6:45     Remove ice cream bombe from freezer, jelly or trifles from the fridge. Unmould.  

7:00     Heat the brandy for the flambé Christmas pudding. Serve the desserts.   

            Sit back and enjoy the compliments!! 

Photo by from Pexels

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