We have updated our Privacy Policy Please take a moment to review it. By continuing to use this site, you agree to the terms of our updated Privacy Policy.

Christmas countdown by Gizzi Erskine

I’m not going to pretend that organization is my strong suit, BUT avoiding stress is the key to enjoying the festive period – the idea is to have a good time, not a nervous breakdown. Recipes for my Christmas puddings, mincemeat, chutneys and Christmas cake will improve greatly with a bit of maturing time, so if you can make any of these in advance it will make your life easier. With a bit of forward planning things will go a whole lot smoother, so here is a breakdown of steps for the weeks leading up to Christmas, and for the day itself.


Order your turkey or goose, ham or any other large roasting joints, sausagemeat and fresh meat stocks. If possible, patronize local butchers or farm shops, or place your order online.


Buy all your other ingredients, such as fruit and vegetables, alcohol, cheese and so on. Be methodical and read through all the recipes you are intending to cook and write a detailed shopping list so you don’t forget anything. I find this really helpful to avoid buying too much and over-spending. Again, I think it’s so important to support your local grocer, fishmonger, wine merchant and delis wherever possible.


Brine the turkey or goose. Don’t forget to take out the giblets and keep them in the fridge for the gravy. You can also make your gravy stock the night before if you wish.

Prepare A Wreath of Pigs in Blankets and your choice of stuffings and leave in the fridge overnight.

Braised Sour Red Cabbage can be made the night before and heated up on Christmas day.

If you’re making the Clementine & Ginger Trifle this can also be prepared today.

Make any starters or desserts that need overnight setting in the fridge, such as The Creamiest & Lightest Christmas Chicken Liver Parfait. Recipes such as the Baked Jerusalem Artichoke, Spinach & Parmesan Dip or Brown Shrimp Gratin can be can be made in advance and left in the fridge overnight.


Obviously these timings are open to interpretation, depending on what time you wish to eat and the weight of your turkey. In my family we like to eat at 3ish.


Remove the turkey or goose from the brine and allow it to come up to room temperature.


Preheat the oven for the turkey. Prepare the turkey or goose for the oven, stuffing it if you are using. Make sure you have calculated the right weight and cooking time.


Get the turkey in the oven! Set your oven timer! Don’t forget to leave time for the turkey to rest, as this will also free up oven space for your potatoes, carrots and parsnips.

For Perfect Roast Potatoes, peel, chop and parboil your potatoes. You want them to steam as dry as possible before roasting. Set aside.

Trim Brussels sprouts and set aside in a bowl of cold water.


Prepare the Really Simple Honey Glazed Carrots & Parsnips in the tin you are roasting them in.

The same for the Sprouts, Smoked Bacon & Chestnuts.


Lay the table. Have a glass of something with alcohol in it. And a little sit down.


Prepare the Cranberry, Port & Clementine Sauce and the Gingerbread Sauce. You can reheat the sauces just before you are ready to eat.


Put your potatoes in the oven to roast. Make the stock for The Best Christmas Gravy, if you didn’t last night.


Remove the turkey from the oven and leave to rest covered in foil.


Cook your sprouts. Turn the potatoes over and put back in the oven Put the carrots and parsnips in the oven to roast.


Put your Wreath of Pigs in Blankets in the oven to cook.


Put plates in the oven to warm up if you have space. Finish the gravy (see page 159). Reheat any prepared red cabbage and sauces.




Image and all recipes mentioned can be found in Gizzi’s Season’s Eatings