Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

Help, Help!

(68 Posts)
Newatthis Mon 25-Nov-19 14:48:49

Hi Grans, I will be away from 16th - 24th December (late) returning from overseas with 6 family members and will have to organise Christmas dinner for all. I love doing this and cooking is not a problem. I usually cook everything from scratch but, because of time restraints (even shopping on Christmas Eve will be a problem!!) I will have to cook and freeze before I go or buy ready made and freeze with things that will defrost overnight. I know a turkey won't defrost overnight but I have been told that the turkey crowns can be cooked from frozen so can anyone please recommend a good one that they may have used. I don't usually buy ready made and therefore don't know what is good or bad - M & S look to have spectacular things. Also has anyone ever frozen a cheesecake or can any recommend a spectacular desert that will freeze and recipe please also. Thanks everyone

geekesse Mon 25-Nov-19 14:53:19

Seems like the perfect excuse to have Christmas lunch at a nearby restaurant. You can still do all the family gathering, present-swapping stuff at home, but if you eat out, there's no prep and no wasshing/ clearing up.

Newatthis Mon 25-Nov-19 15:00:18

Yes, we thought of this but £90 per head was out of the question.

Jane10 Mon 25-Nov-19 15:07:29

Just go with M&S. Reliably good.

janeainsworth Mon 25-Nov-19 15:13:30

Or get Waitrose to deliver everything an hour after you're due to get home on Christmas Eve.

Good luck New - perhaps you should change your username to Supergran grin

ThisLittlePiggy Mon 25-Nov-19 15:26:43

I cook everything from scratch but given your circumstances I would opt for Aunt Bessie's frozen roast potatoes and parsnips. Had to resort to them a few years ago and they were excellent. I wouldn't bother with turkey and instead splash out on an organic chicken. Get as much ready as you can before you go away - even the breadcrumbs for the bread sauce. (I keep a tub frozen). Pigs in blankets can also be kept in the freezer and cooked from frozen if need be. Brussel sprouts from the freezer too. Make a batch of gravy also and defrost on Christmas Eve.

Riverwalk Mon 25-Nov-19 15:27:42

Christmas delivery slots are likely to be fully booked.

I'd buy everything from M&S/Waitrose before you go and freeze e.g. turkey crown, pigs in blankets, bread sauce, cranberry, gravy stuffing etc. A turkey crown will defrost overnight.

Tedber Mon 25-Nov-19 18:14:34

Make life easy for yourself newatthis. You don’t get medals for making things from scratch! I doubt anyone would even notice if you cheat and buy frozen! Turkey crowns are much of a muchness. Aldi had some brilliant ones last year! Their frozen lemon cheesecakes are scrumptious too and I am not a lover of Aldi. You can make your special stuffings and freeze beforehand. Oh the wonders of freezers eh? Just make use of them and cut your workload on the day!

Grammaretto Mon 25-Nov-19 18:21:52

do you have a 24hr supermarket? Once when we were stuck and couldn't get to our destination, we went to a late night shop and found all the Christmas stock hugely reduced!

Do you have to have turkey? Why not chicken, which is much nicer.
Turkey is an American import though it has been eaten here for centuries.

I'm vegetarian. I do cook a traditional Christmas dinner, but I just eat everything except the meat.

Urmstongran Mon 25-Nov-19 18:29:39

Yes, we thought of this but £90 per head was out of the question

Where were you planning to eat - the Hilton?

We’re all going where we went last year £42 per head & sensible daughter doesn’t ask for dinner for the 7 and 3y olds - just 2 extra plates and we share out from the adults. Plenty for everyone!

Tedber Mon 25-Nov-19 18:37:07

Oh my goodness Urmstongran where are YOU...Urmston? I live in North West too and most of the Christmas day meals here are more in the region of £90+ a head! (Ridiculous amounts anyway)

One of the reasons I would never go out for Christmas day lunch - get the same meal on Christmas Eve or Boxing day for around £30!!!

Tedber Mon 25-Nov-19 18:45:16

Grammaretto I think even 24 hour supermarkets won't be open too late on Christmas Eve? OP isn't coming home until late on Christmas Eve... I would think it would be completely unfeasible for her to come off a plane and rush to a supermarket not to mention the stress involved smile No, buying freezer products is the way to go....... just don't do what I did many years ago when went away for Christmas...had a pay as you go meter and came home on 28th to find I had forgotten to load it!!! All food ruined!!!!

HootyMcOwlface Mon 25-Nov-19 18:48:47

I’ve had a frozen turkey crown before, but I’m pretty sure it had to be defrosted before cooking. I would consider cooking your turkey, slicing it and freezing it in portions - I’ve done this with a chicken and then reheated each portion in the microwave (with a few blobs of the saved cooking juices on it) and it was fine!

(I pour the juices into a small jug and it cools to a jelly. The fat rises to the top, sets and seals it.)

BradfordLass72 Mon 25-Nov-19 18:48:48

Christmas Pud freezes well and it takes but a moment to make Brandy Sauce.
And plenty of alternatives at: www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/festive-dessert

In view of the fact that you slice up the turkey as soon as it's cooked anyway, why not just buy turkey breasts and thighs and freeeze them? Gravy made ahead too.

Most of all - take it easy. Don't let last minute efforts to be perfect affect the lovely times you've had overseas with the family or the wonderful climax of Christmas Day together. flowers roastchicken party

HootyMcOwlface Mon 25-Nov-19 18:49:58

PS I took my chicken out the night before to defrost before using.

Septimia Mon 25-Nov-19 18:59:41

Are all the people you have to feed arriving from abroad or are some in the UK? If so, perhaps they could bring a contribution to the meal so that you have less work to do.

Otherwise I'd get the family to muck in with the preparations on Christmas morning!

DoraMarr Mon 25-Nov-19 19:06:26

Does it have to be turkey? We always used to have a good joint of beef at Christmas. It should defrost overnight and cook in less time than a turkey. You can parboil potatoes for roasting and Cooke them from frozen, or defrost overnight. Parsnips are a fiddle, so I always buy frozen ones, likewise sprouts. Carrots just need to be washed and cut. M&S have some delicious side dishes and desserts.

PamGeo Mon 25-Nov-19 19:21:22

Tesco open up their Christmas delivery slots just after midnight Tuesday /Wednesday this week so you can still do your online shop for Christmas Eve.
Ask a neighbour or friend to take the shopping in for you if you have someone available.
You could have 'Christmas dinner' on Boxing day if that helps with the defrosting and cooking but there's so much good frozen ready prepared frozen vegetables and deserts it's a shame not to use them. It's also a very good idea to have plenty of helpers rather than exhaust yourself trying to be superwoman.

Callistemon Mon 25-Nov-19 19:33:19

I did freeze a home-made cheesecake the other week and it was fine, but it was only in the freezer for a week. Don't ask me the recipe, it was a kind of 'fling it in and mix it up' kind of recipe, but generally speaking a biscuit base, some cream cheese, marscapone cheese, fresh lime juice and whipped cream. I did put in some gelatine as once before when I made it, it hadn't set but any veggies won't eat gelatine of course.

I wouldn't bother, though, I would do an order online to be delivered on the 24th including the turiey, but you could buy and freeze lots of things before you go - all the trimmings, for instance, which will thaw overnight.

I wouldn't cook any poultry from frozen myself.

You could give someone a key in case your plane is delayed and the delivery is due.

Callistemon Mon 25-Nov-19 19:34:02

turkey ?

loopylou Mon 25-Nov-19 19:51:28

I would be delegating pdq and get someone else to cook the turkey!
It seems a bit steep if everyone's expecting you to do this when you're away until the last minute. Get everyone organised to provide part of the meal and you just host and provide the drinks(which it what we do as a family if we have big gatherings)

travelsafar Mon 25-Nov-19 19:55:33

Better still why don't you give a key to a trusted friend or neighbour and ask them to take your frozen turkey out of the freezer so it is defrosted when you get home.

EllaKeat Mon 25-Nov-19 19:56:06

A few years ago my mum was dying. We were called to the hospital on the 23rd December and left at 3pm on Christmas Eve. (She actually lived until January 2nd)!
I had missed my delivery of fresh everything - turkey, ham veg etc., which they had tried to deliver at 9am on the 23rd.
Shops were due to close, and I was shattered. I ran into Tesco and bought cooked handcarved turkey breast from the deli counter, ready made mashed potato😶 and bags of frozen veg.
The only thing I 'made' was my stuffing, and the meal was lovely. Not the best, but actually really very good!

It us the company you keep, not the food you eat 😉

M0nica Mon 25-Nov-19 20:48:19

Newatthis, buy the whole meal from M&S or Waitrose before you go. You can order from Waitrose for delivery the day before you go. Put the whole lot in the freezer,

When you return, get it all out overnight. If when cooking somethings are not quite as expected, nobody will notice. They will be so impressed by your organising skills that meant that a full Christmas dinner is ready in a house, that presumably you intend to decorate, before you go, only hours after flying in from the wide blue yonder they will be singing your praises forever.

One year we discovered our turkey had blow fly on it at 3.00pm on Christmas Eve, the problem got sorted but the story of how it was sorted and trying to defrost a turkey in three hours has entered family history and is told over the fire every year, as we drink mulled wine and eat mincepies.

Your memorable instant Christmas when everything worked and you had a wonderful time will similarly enter your family history.

CanadianGran Mon 25-Nov-19 21:58:12

Wow, that's a tough one! Usually I do all my prep the day before, so the actual cooking day is fairly simple.

In Canada we have frozen turkey roll available, and can be cooked from frozen. It's white meat rolled with stuffing inside. They are more expensive, but your situation is unique, so I would have a look. Some butchers do them as well.

Otherwise, skip turkey and have a large ham. You can purchase in advance and depending on how long you are away it can stay in the fridge.

Potatoes - can you find new potatoes and boil them the day of, so no need for peeling? Everyone loves new potatoes.

Cheesecake can definitely be baked and frozen. Otherwise a tray of tarts or squares baked in advance and frozen, on plate with chocolates.

You can do a grocery order and ask a neighbour to accept it, or even leave it out on the back step if delivered the 24th. It will stay cool outside.

One year I had my baby boy on the 18th, and dinner for 12 on Christmas. Did lots in advance, and hubby pitched in.

Good luck! Let us know how you managed!