Preparing Christmas dinner in advance: the meat
Meat is a central part of most Christmas meals; some of the most well-loved choices for Christmas dinner include roast beef and ham. (Don’t feel limited to those options, though – you can use whatever you like for your Christmas dinner!) Your preparation method will be different based on what type of meat you select.
Roast beef – choosing the right cut
First of all, when you’re buying a cut of roast beef, you should purchase one that is fairly flat or cylindrical in shape. Why? Roasts with a flat or cylindrical shape are easier to prepare in advance than roasts that are round or square-shaped.
Seasoning and cooking
After choosing a cut of roast beef, you should season it however you wish and cook it. Decide how you want your roast done for Christmas day. If you want it done medium well for your holiday dinner, you’ll only want to cook it to medium rare for now. If you want it well done instead, you should cook it to medium well. Basically, you should cook your roast until it reaches a “degree of doneness” that’s a step lower than your desired end result.
Cooling and freezing
Using a meat thermometer, you should ensure that the thickest part of your cooked roast has cooled to 70 degrees Fahrenheit within a time frame of two hours. Once it has cooled off, you can put it in your refrigerator.
(Note: Depending on the size of the roast, it might be a good idea to cut it into chunks before refrigerating it.)
With your roast beef already seasoned and cooked, all you have to do on Christmas day is bake it in the oven for about 20 minutes, and voila! Your main course is ready to go!
If you’re interested in preparing Christmas dinner in advance, a ham might be the way to go. You can buy most hams precooked, which means that all you have to do is bake them in the oven for a certain amount of time.
Fully cooked hams
If your ham says “fully cooked,” on the label, here’s what you should do:
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place the ham in a pan and add about ½ inch of water.
- Bring the ham to an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit (you should use a meat thermometer for this.)
- Serve while still warm.
Your ham might say “cook before eating” on the label. If that’s the case, you should follow these steps:
- Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bring the ham’s internal temperature to 145 degrees.
- Cool and serve!
No matter what you choose to do, you can rest assured that a precooked ham doesn’t involve much preparation and will free up more of your time on Christmas day!
The main dish isn’t the only important part of your Christmas dinner. To delight your guests with a beloved holiday tradition, you might plan to make some easy eggnog this year!
Slow cooker eggnog
To make your eggnog in advance, you’ll combine the following ingredients:
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 tsp. of vanilla extract
- 3 cups of whole milk
- 2 cups of whipping cream
- Cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
After blending these ingredients according to your recipe, pour the mixture into your slow cooker and cook it on the low setting for two hours, stirring every 20-30 minutes. It’ll be warm and ready to serve by the time your guests are ready for Christmas dinner!
Salads and make-ahead sides
While most of your side dishes and salads will need to be enjoyed right away, you can always prepare your ingredients in advance! First, cut up vegetables, fruits, etc. Place them in stackable containers to fit in your refrigerator. Then, add labels to each one indicating which dish they belong with. When it’s time to prepare that recipe, pull out the appropriately-labeled containers and you’re ready to go! This is an especially handy tip if you guests who want to help.
You can also prepare other ingredients to help you save time. Measure out your dry ingredients for crusts, cookies, or cobblers, and place them in a labeled plastic bag. If you have a hard copy of your recipe, just tape it to the bag. Going a step futher, you can pour milk, oil, water, etc. into labeled jars. Then all you’ll need are the mixing bowls!
Make sure to mix up your sauces and dressings ahead of time too. In fact, most of those will taste even better when they’ve had some time to marinate.
Christmas is a time for joy, not worry
You don’t have to devote all your time to cooking the best Christmas dinner on the holidays. Preparing Christmas dinner in advance can be just as tasty, and will give you more time to spend with the people you love. Now that you’ll have a lot more time to spend with your guests, you’ll also need to find fun ways to entertain them. Everyone will remember Christmas dinner in your home!
If you’re planning a last minute holiday this year, don’t forget to check out our 9th blog of Christmas for some great tips!