How to fix common Christmas Day disasters

Rachel Greene-Taylor
Written by: Rachel Greene-Taylor
Posted on: 8 December 2016

On Christmas Day you want everything to go right. So why does it always feel like everything goes wrong?

Stay calm and read the best ways to fix the most common Christmas Day disasters.

Turkey troubles

A properly-roasted turkey holds your Christmas meal together. But there are a few obstacles to overcome before you can serve it to your eager guests.

Too dry

So you’ve overcooked your turkey. Unless you can travel back in time, there’s no way to reverse this.

The breast will be the driest part, because there’s very little fat. So cut that part into thin slices and place them, in a single layer, into a shallow pan.

Now moisten the slices by covering them in chicken or turkey broth, and cover the pan with foil and place in a 120°C/Gas Mark ½ pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes until the meat is hot – it will stay moist, as long as it’s warm.

Carve the rest of the turkey while the breast slices are in the oven. In this situation, gravy is your best friend.

Checking temperature of a turkey

Checking temperature of a turkey

Still frozen

This is far from ideal.

It takes 24 hours to thaw every 5lbs of turkey, so you need to plan ahead.

If you cook a turkey that’s still frozen, the thawed part will dry out before the frozen part is done and the different juices also allow bacteria to spread.

Never leave the frozen turkey on the kitchen worktop to defrost, and once the turkey has thawed never refreeze it.

So, what if you get up on Christmas Day, and your turkey is still frozen solid? Don’t panic, all is not lost.

Fill the sink with cold water, and if the turkey’s wrapping has any punctures or holes in it, make sure it is sealed in another plastic bag. Plonk the turkey in, breast side down, and change the water every 30 minutes - don’t let it get above room temperature or harmful bacteria will thrive.

If you need to defrost a fully-frozen turkey in a hurry using this method, allow at least half an hour per pound.

And remember: the turkey should be cooked as soon as possible after it’s taken out of the fridge, and don’t let it thaw at room temperature – or the big bad bacteria will rear its ugly head.

It flew away

Did you dash to the supermarket and find empty freezers? Or maybe you’ve got five extra guests and there’s no longer enough turkey to go around (usually it’s about 1lb of turkey per person).

If this is the case, then you’ve got to think of alternative birds that can replace the traditional turkey. Goose, duck, pheasant, guineafowl, quail and partridge are all options to consider.

Time management goes out the window

Cooking everyday meals can sometimes be a mission, but on Christmas Day, when you’ve probably got more mouths to feed, it can feel impossible. When everything needs to be prepared and cooked at different times, the key is to take it one step at a time and not to get overwhelmed.

Many things can be prepared ahead of time, including the vegetables, wrapping sausages in bacon and laying the table.

If you want to plan your Christmas dinner to perfection, check out our handy infographic

Save the gravy

Lumpy gravy can ruin a good meal. It happens when the flour or corn starch doesn’t dissolve when mixed with the hot drippings or liquid.

You can sometimes get rid of the lumps by beating the gravy with a whisk. If that doesn’t work, add some boiling water and give it another beating with the whisk.

If there are still lumps, pour the gravy through a strainer into a new pot. Then reheat it.

If you drop the jug and find yourself out of granules, don’t panic. For a quick fix, mix together Marmite, a chicken stock cube and soy sauce.

No room in the fridge

Guests often bring a bottle with them, and this can quickly cause a packed fridge to become even more congested.

There’s a quick fix for this; put all the bottles of beer and bubbly into a bucket of cold water and pop it in the garden. If it snows, even better, you can build your own ice bucket.

Share your chairs

If you don’t have enough chairs to seat everyone, you can ask your neighbours for spares, or get your guests to bring a couple of extras. You don’t want to say ‘no room at the inn’.

Your table might not be big enough to accommodate all your guests, so don’t underestimate the power of a large tablecloth that can cover adjoining tables.

If you have lots of kiddies on the day, then have a separate children’s table. You can get Christmas table cloths for them to colour in, which will keep them entertained right through to dessert.

There you have it, quick fixes for common mishaps that can send you into a downward spiral on Christmas Day. Stay calm and don’t let it all get on top of you.

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