Youve been making Christmas dinner wrong – from incorrect oil to not tasting

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As December 25 is right around the corner, many people are starting to think about cooking their Christmas dinner and creating the tastiest dishes for their family and friends.

But, did you know that there are some common cooking mistakes that you might be making when preparing your festive feast?

From soggy vegetables to turkeys that aren't cooked all the way through to meat cooked incorrectly there’s plenty you might be getting wrong.

But, with some advance planning, you can make the cooking as stress-free as possible — and enjoy both the day itself and the food that you make.

Here, the cooking equipment specialists Alliance Online, give their perspective on the most frequent Christmas cooking mistakes, and how you can avoid them to get the perfect spread.

Freezer meat

One of the most important things to remember is not to take meat out of the freezer and cook it straight away. This is because, although the meat may look cooked from the outside, the inside will remain raw if it goes into the oven frozen.

Meat can't reach a safe temperature for consumption while frozen, and turkey will need to be about 70°C to safe to eat.

You might want to get ahead on the event preparations by buying your turkey, or other meat cut, and then freezing it until the big day. This is useful as it means you have your key ingredient ready to go, but make sure to defrost the meat fully.

If you are cooking a whole turkey, you'll need to take it out of the freezer two days prior to cooking, so it can fully defrost in the fridge.

This is the most important step to remember, as you can't rush it! When cooking, you can also use a kitchen thermometer to check the temperature of the middle of the meat before serving.

Using the wrong oil

You might not have thought about what differences there are between the various cooking oils, but there are features to all of them that can really make or break your cooking.

Vegetable oil and sunflower oil are great for frying, roasting, and baking, but pure oil olive has a stronger, more distinctive flavour. It's ideal for sautéing and roasting as long as the temperature isn’t above about 191°C, but oils like sesame are preferred for stir fries where very high heat is needed.

So, think about what cooking methods you're going to be using during the making of your Christmas dinner, and make sure your oil choices complement the dishes.

Not fitting everything in the oven

One of the trickiest things about making Christmas dinner is being able to get all of the dishes and sides ready at the same time. Cooking the potatoes, vegetables, turkey, and trimmings all at the same time can feel like juggling too much at once.

And one of the things that makes this even more difficult is that we usually can't fit all the festive dishes in the oven at the same time.

If you have this problem, it's important to make a plan in advance. The first tip is to ensure that the turkey goes into the oven first, and takes priority — it will take the longest to cook, and you want to know it's going to be perfect.

If you are preparing a vegetarian Christmas feast, prioritise your nut roast, pie, or other replacement, as it's the key part of your meal. Then, cook as many dishes on the hob as you can — sprouts and potatoes can be fried, and other vegetables can be boiled.

Making mushy sprouts and soggy roast potatoes

Sprouts are many people's least favourite part of the Christmas meal, but they can really add to the spread as long as you avoid making them into a soggy mush.

If you boil your sprouts, keep an eye on them and only cook them for a few minutes. Run them under cold water to stop the cooking process when you take them out of the hot water, to keep them crisp.

You can also cook your sprouts in other ways — slicing them and frying them with some chorizo brings something new to the table, or you can try roasting them with your potatoes.

To avoid roast potatoes going soggy, space them out on the baking tray and try to cook them when there's fewer other things in the oven. The space allows air to circulate, which helps make them crispy.

If you're using goose fat, combine it with vegetable or rapeseed oil which has a higher roasting temperature — this will also make them crispier and avoid sogginess.

Not tasting food during the cooking

This might sound obvious, but many of us don't actually taste our food throughout the cooking process, and this means that we miss out on many seasoning opportunities. By tasting regularly, we can refine the spicing and seasoning of dishes along the way, making for a much better end result.

So, taste sauces as you add to them, and think about the flavour you're aiming for.

You shouldn't be opening the oven constantly when roasting your vegetables and turkey, as this will delay the cooking time, but you can take them out and check the seasoning once or twice before serving. This will help banish bland vegetable sides from your Christmas spread.

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Mike Hardman, Marketing Manager at Alliance Online, said: "The Christmas dinner is a big event, and you want the cooking to be just right. A few weeks prior to cooking your feast, go through your kitchen and make sure that you have all the equipment you'll need.

"You might find that you need more utensils, baking trays, and pans than you normally use, so count how many elements you need to prepare and buy any extras to save stress on the day.

"Non-stick baking trays, frying pans, and saucepans are extremely useful when cooking a meal with so many different dishes. This way, things will be less likely to stick or burn while you're not looking. If you'll need pans with lids to keep sauces simmering, check that these fit your pans and have a hole built into them to allow air to escape, to stop things boiling over.

"If you go for durable, stainless steel utensils and equipment, they will be easier to clean and last for years of future Christmases, making your preparation hassle-free.

Lastly, make sure to enjoy the cooking. Don't get so caught up in creating the perfect spread that you forget to enjoy new dishes and old favourites with friends and family."

  • Cooking
  • Food
  • Christmas

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