10 tips for cooking a first birthday dinner
1. Future plan
“Most of the main ingredients for Christmas dinner can be prepared in advance and heated on the day,” says Kevin Barber, head chef at Mara at the Royal Dornoch in Sutherland, Scotland. “Store fillings and sides in the ovenproof dishes you’ll be cooking them in — this means you can just follow the timing schedule of the day.”
Dominic Wolff, Channel 4 winner The Great Cookbook Challenge With her recipe book Dominic’s KitchenShe recommends preparing all your vegetables the night before. “Peel and slice the carrots, then place them in a bowl and immerse them in water so they don’t dry out. Blanch the parsnips and store them in an airtight container, ready to roast. Brussels sprouts can be trimmed, cut in half and stored in an airtight container or bag,” she says.
The main thing is to keep it simple. “Consider making a starter that can be prepared in advance. We love a good old-fashioned shrimp cocktail—the shrimp and Marie Rose sauce can be made ahead, making it super easy on the day. Chop your salad in the morning, refrigerate it, and then plate it up,” says Wolfe. Immediately before submission.
Having a cold starter that doesn’t require oven space is key. “Serve an appetizer that doesn’t need a lot of attention, like smoked salmon mousse,” Barber suggests.
“We always cook the turkey the night before. “This takes the stress out of the day and frees up oven space,” Wolfe recommends. “Once the turkey has cooled, it should be stored in the refrigerator, either whole and covered, or cut into smaller portions and placed in an airtight container.” .
“Reheating is simple – place the steaks in an ovenproof dish, pour a little stock over them, cover and cook at 180°C for about half an hour or until done.”
If you choose to do so on the big day, this is how Barber cooks his food:
Remove the turkey from the refrigerator about an hour before. Place them in a roasting tray, breast side up, leaving plenty of room around the sides. Cut the onion into quarters and add it to the cavity, along with a few halved lemons, garlic cloves, and rosemary sprigs. Rub a generous layer of butter over the bird and finish with a generous layer of salt and pepper. Add onions, rosemary and carrots around the base to make a wonderful broth.
Roast for about half an hour, or until they start to turn bronze. Lower the oven slightly and continue baking.
Cook a 4 kg bird for 2 hours. For each additional kilogram, add half an hour of cooking time. Ovens vary, but when the juices run clear, the turkey is done.
Remove the turkey, cover it with a sheet of foil and let it rest for at least an hour
A good hack is to use ready-made stock that you build on. “A high-quality stock packet can be a great base. We also freeze small portions of leftover stock from the roast chicken, which means we have a great ‘start’ to work with,” says Wolfe. “Broth is a great thing to make in advance, too. It lasts for about three days in the refrigerator.”
To prepare them ahead of time, private chef Michaela Hanna uses turkey wings. “Roast them vigorously until golden brown, then make a stock with onions, carrots, celery stalks, garlic cloves, bay leaves and dried herbs. When the turkey comes out of the oven, you can add the stock to the roasting tray.
To do it from scratch on the day, this is how Barber prepares it: “Remove all but about 4 tablespoons of the turkey fat from the roasting tin, leaving as much of the turkey juices as possible. Heat the pan on the stove Add a little plain flour (2 to 3 tablespoons) and mix to form a paste. Gradually add the turkey stock back to the pan, making sure to remove any browned bits from the pan. Continue stirring until it comes to a boil, then add a little of Marsala and simmer for five minutes.
5. Potatoes and parsnips
To get the perfect baked potato, Hanna says potato selection is key. “Maris Piper or King Edwards are ideal. They need to be floury so they’re crispy. I like the taste of potatoes, so I use peanut oil because it’s flavorless. Start roasting them when the turkey comes out of the oven.”
“Add to a pot of cold water with a tablespoon of salt, then cover the pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for eight minutes. Drain and leave to steam for an hour. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Preheat a baking tray Flat with a layer of oil on the bottom for five minutes. Carefully place the potatoes in the oil, spaced apart, then cook them for an hour to an hour 15 minutes, depending on the method. As crispy as you like. Turn at the 20 and 40 minute points. Drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle With good sea salt.
Place the parsnips in the oven 15 minutes after the potatoes, and roast them for 45 minutes at 180°C. Barber recommends a simple recipe of honey and mustard. “Mix peeled and chopped parsnips with 2 tablespoons of oil and a pinch of salt and pepper before roasting. After about 15 minutes of cooking, mix 1 tablespoon of liquid honey with 1 tablespoon of whole mustard and a splash of red wine vinegar. Add the partially roasted parsnips to the mixture Return to the oven. Once cooked, sprinkle with a little fresh thyme for a new twist on the traditional side.
6. Pigs in blankets and stuffing
“I always recommend purchasing your meat from a trusted local butcher so you can enjoy local produce,” says Barber. “Place the tray of pigs in the blankets for about 30 minutes before serving until they are very crispy and hot.”
Making your own filling is worth it, says Hannah. “Don’t be shy about herbs or spices. I like sage and thyme, grated lemon and orange peel, and a pinch of grated nutmeg. Make sure to cook any onions you put in them; cook until almost caramelized in the butter, over medium heat — the sweetness is heavenly.”
Barber suggests rolling the filling into balls (this is best done the day before, along with wrapping the pigs in their blankets). “They cook in much less time, and it’s easier to tell if they’re done or not — you can cut one in half instead of digging through a tray full of stuff.”
7. Bread sauce and cranberry sauce
Make the bread sauce ahead of time. “It will harden while in the fridge, so warm a little milk and add a spoonful of bread sauce at a time, mixing until combined before adding the next spoonful. Add fresh bay and more nutmeg,” Hanna says.
Cranberry sauce is also easy to make. “Put the orange juice in a saucepan with 140g of caster sugar, and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Add 300g of fresh cranberries and bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat and cook until most of the cranberries have collapsed. Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest and a pinch of Port, Madeira, or Marsala. Make this two or three days in advance and store it in the refrigerator in a sterilized container.
8. The rest of the vegetables
Sprouts Add chopped chestnuts and pancetta. “You can pre-cook the sprouts, fry the pancetta until crisp, add the sprouts and chestnuts and stir-fry for six to seven minutes, stirring frequently, just before carving the turkey,” says Hanna.
carrot “Make carrot puree with brown butter and lemon juice. “You can do this for up to two days before gently reheating on the stove,” recommends Hannah.
cabbage “Cook the red cabbage in fine brown sugar and balsamic vinegar, which turns into a delicious, flavorful glaze. Again, I would do this ahead of time and gently reheat the day of,” says Hanna.
9. Nutritional needs of others
“For vegetarian or vegan guests, a good walnut roast is great, or a leek or mushroom Wellington tart,” suggests Hanna. “If you have gluten-intolerant guests, use gluten-free flour to thicken any gravy and for batter if you’re making Yorkshire puddings. Jus-rol makes great gluten-free puff pastry. And for anyone who doesn’t eat dairy, use oil instead of butter or cheese Or cream or milk. It’s a little more difficult with desserts, but homemade chocolate mousse is a great idea.
10. How to avoid a kitchen disaster…
“Work backwards and write out a realistic time plan. “This will help you feel more organized in the day and avoid running around like a headless turkey,” Wolfe recommends. “Set alarms to help you stay on track, and heat dishes to keep everyone’s meal warm for a while.” Longer and simpler. Don’t feel like you need 10 vegetables, and not everything has to be made from scratch or overly complicated.
Hanna agrees. “If you think you’ve taken on too much, just pause and think about what you can really prepare for. You’re the chef, you decide – anyone you cook for is very lucky because they don’t have to! Think about what can be put in the oven and what It should be on the stove, and when it reaches capacity, stop. It is better to do some things well than to be distracted and feel overwhelmed.
If all goes well, make a backup plan. “Some grilled meats, good bread and a cheese board would be the next best option,” says Hannah. “Plan to have this on Boxing Day with leftovers. Then it’s there if you need a backup.”
As Barber says: “Remember, it’s just a roast, so don’t overthink it.” Good luck there.