Jane Lovett’s getting ahead cooking tips for festive feasts

I recently did a Q&A on Instagram Live with Jane Lovett, one of our all-time favourite cooks. We were chatting about cheaper cuts of meat. As Jane said in her introduction, there is nothing wrong with cheaper cuts, but they take longer to cook. Sometimes they can be tastier than the more expensive cuts – Ox cheek, Pork cheeks, Brisket, Oxtail etc. Check it out HERE.

However, the following week Jane did a Zoom demo with tips to get ahead this Christmas and so I thought I might share some of them with you. Jane has a fabulous book called Get Ahead which is for all year round i.e. not just for Christmas.


Christmas Tips:

Potatoes for roasting: these can be parboiled (for precisely 10 minutes) the day before. Drain and shake in the colander to roughen their edges, then spread out in a roasting tin with a little oil or fat, ready to just pop into the oven the next day. The fat doesn’t need to be hot. Or prepare them as above a month or so in advance and freeze. Thaw before cooking.

Parsnips: prepare these ahead exactly as for roast potatoes, but only parboil for 2 minutes, Thye too can be frozen.

Stuffing can be made up to 2 months in advance and frozen.

Freeze gravy from previous roast dinners or freeze the gravy left over from the Christmas dinner.

Brussel Sprouts: these can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Halve or quarter them as they cook more evenly and look more appealing and colourful.

Cook chipolata sausages and bacon rolls and freeze them in the shallow ovenproof dish in which they are going to be served, up to 2 months ahead. Thaw the night before and reheat for 10-15 minutes in a hot oven until sizzling. They’ll keep warm happily until you need them. Alternatively, complete as above, up to 3 days in advance.

Tin for the roast joint: Only use a tin just a little bigger than your joint of meat so that the fat that runs out does not run thin and burn.

Bread sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated or frozen for 2-3 months. Thaw the day before. It may need a little more milk stirred in.

Cooking times: When calculating cooking times, remember to factor in at least 30 minutes resting time for the turkey before eating, which can happily, and advisedly, be stretched to an hour or more as long as the bird is kept somewhere warm.

Brandy sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for 2-3 months.

Run out of fridge space: Use a car as an extension of your fridge if you run out of space. If the temperatures are the same as they were this week, that would definitely work.

DON’T EXPECT CHRISTMAS DAY TO BE PERFECT Things don’t always go to plan, but it really isn’t the end of the world.

And if you love Jane Lovett’s recipes as much as Grace and I do, pre-order her next recipe book, DELICIOUSLY SIMPLE, available 2nd March 2023.

Click HERE for some of Jane’s delicious recipes we have tried and tasted.

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1 month ago

Cannot imagine how difficult doing Christmas dinner would be if you did not do all this preparation and freezing. One thing Jane omitted was you can make cranberry sauce 5 days in advance as well.