Take the heat out of the kitchen on Christmas day.
By Belinda Castles
Research & test writer
This year my extended family is making the trip to Gisborne for Christmas. I’m in charge of planning the menu, shopping and delegating the kitchen prep. With time ticking, here are my top tips for stress-free festivities.
Write a menu and divvy up the dishes so everyone knows what to bring. There’s nothing worse than everyone bringing the same salad or trying to conjure up a festive platter from everyone’s “bits and pieces”.
Make your shopping list and split it into non-perishables and perishables. Shop for non-perishables before Christmas eve. Most fruit and vegetables can be bought a few days earlier.
Choose the right appliance
A food processor is your Christmas secret weapon. It can power through the prep – (chopping, grating, slicing and mixing). A processor is also good at emulsifying mayonnaise, blitzing breadcrumbs and making pastry dough.
Make sure you have the right knives for your prep. A chef’s knife is a multi-purpose tool, but it can’t do everything. You may also need a paring knife (handy for peeling and trimming fruit and vegetables) and a carving knife (for slicing the Christmas ham). The serrated edge of a bread knife helps cut through a loaf of bread.
Knives should be sharpened before you get started.
If pavlova is on the menu, a benchtop mixer is perfect for beating the egg whites. Little helpers can make themselves useful by whipping the cream with a hand-held mixer.
Don’t give the gift of foodborne illness
Christmas meat must be cooked thoroughly. Most turkeys need at least 2 hours 40 minutes cooking time. Bigger birds need longer. When fully cooked, the turkey should be 75℃ or above. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, juices should be clear with no signs of pink.
A vacuum-packed cooked ham can be eaten without further cooking. But, if you like to glaze your ham and serve it hot, cook it at 160℃ for 20 minutes per kilogram. The temperature should reach at least 60℃.
Don’t forget to wash hands before preparing or handling food, and after handling raw meat, poultry or vegetables with soil on them. If you’ve been sick in the lead-up to Christmas, get somebody else to prepare and cook the meal for you.