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5 ways to save Christmas dinner

We’ve all been there. The turkey’s still frozen, the pudding is dry and your cousin is newly vegetarian. Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum!

No meal is more stressful to prepare than Christmas dinner. There’s inevitably a crowd to cater for, traditions to adhere to, an in-law watching your every move, and a million other things on the go. Here are a few of the common ways your meal can go wrong – and how to fix them.

The turkey is still frozen
A frozen turkey can take up to two days to defrost in the fridge, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time for it to thaw properly. In a pinch, try placing the turkey in a bathtub of warm water and change the water frequently to help speed up the process. When in doubt, go without – you don’t want to eat raw turkey!

You’ve forgotten an ingredient
Luckily, most Pick n Pay stores will be open on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day – check the store locator for your local Pick n Pay’s Christmas trading hours.Try to avoid this happening by buying frozen goods and non-perishable items as early as possible, and fresh produce – like whipping cream for the trifle – at least a few days before.

Chop it up
If your roast isn’t cooking quickly enough and is holding up the whole meal, cut it into smaller pieces before returning to the oven. Smaller chunks will cook faster, but be sure to watch closely so they don’t overcook or burn. They did burn? Pa-rum-pum-pum-pum – that’s what gravy is for!

Eat with your eyes
If gelatine won’t set or your pudding is crumbly, pop the unsightly dessert into a pretty glass and doll it up with whipped cream or custard and loads of garnishes (think chopped fruit, toasted nuts or sprigs of mint). It might not have turned out quite like you planned, but at least it’ll look gorgeous!

This new recipe just isn’t working
Trying recipes for the first time when you’re expecting a crowd is a big catering no-no. Even the most seemingly simple recipe can surprise you. Always do a trial run before the time, or use the phone-a-friend option – there’s always an experienced cook who’ll be able to help solve a disaster dish.

Meg de Jong