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How To Prepare for Christmas Dinner in Advance

Christmas Day doesn’t have to involve a frenzy of kitchen activity – here are some dishes you can prepare ahead of time to make the day run more smoothly.

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Cranberry sauce

This can be really easy to make but often takes up valuable time on Christmas Day. Make some cranberry sauce up to a week in advance using cranberries, orange juice and sugar as the core ingredients. It can easily be kept in the fridge for a week.

Christmas cabbage

Add some colour and a little wow factor to your Christmas meal with a red cabbage accompaniment. Braising it with sugar, onion, vinegar, red wine, butter and some Christmas spices means it will keep for at least two days in the fridge. Alternatively, freeze it and re-heat when you need it.

Gravy

Many people don’t realise home-made gravy can be made in advance and still taste like it was prepared fresh on the day. You just need some chicken wings to roast along with some vegetables, then simmer in water over the hob with a little flour and a stock cube. All the flavours will slowly release as the gravy thickens. Amazingly, the gravy can then be frozen for up to three months.

Sausage stuffing

A rich addition to any Christmas meal, make your sausage or veggie stuffing according to your personal taste and bake it until done. It’ll easily keep for two days in the fridge, or up to a month in the freezer. Simply heat it up before serving to release the fragrant flavours again.

Roast potatoes

Many of us have a finely tuned roast potato recipe to achieve a perfectly crispy and flavoursome end result. Yet we also underestimate the time it takes to peel, parboil and roast potatoes to such perfection. Take the pressure off Christmas Day and peel, chop and parboil your potatoes in advance. Freeze the potatoes at this stage, then roast them from frozen whenever you need them. The freezing process even makes the potatoes extra crispy!

Yorkshire puddings

If Yorkshire puddings are must-have additions to your Christmas menu, this is another side dish that can be made in advance. Make them ahead of time and freeze for up to a month before using – you just need to heat them gently in the oven before serving. If you prefer to make your Yorkshire puds on the day, you can make the batter a few hours before cooking. This resting period at room temperature will actually help them rise even more when you put them in the oven.

Festive desserts

The beauty of Christmas desserts is that many are made with fruit steeped in alcohol or mincemeat – ingredients that can last for a long time. Christmas fruitcakes can be made several months in advance of Christmas, with the flavour improving the longer you wait. Christmas pudding can be kept in the fridge for at least three days, or three weeks in the freezer. And finally, make your mince pies up to a month before Christmas and freeze them. They taste truly delicious after being heated in the oven from frozen.

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