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Christmas licked!

Get ahead for the big day!

Did you know the lion’s share can be can be done before the holidays? Jane Lovett, the cook, food stylist and author, shares her fail-safe tips on preparing in advance

Instead of groaning at the mere idea of Christmas in October and November, turn the thought to your advantage and get cracking on some advance preparation before the school holidays!

Just a snatched half hour or so here and there will be a godsend on Christmas Day and you’ll be very thankful for your foresight, not least because of the considerably reduced washing-up!

Potatoes for roasting can be par boiled (for 10 minutes precisely!) the day before. Drain and shake in the colander to roughen up their edges, then spread out in a roasting tin with a little oil or fat, ready just to pop into the oven 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.

Stuffings can be made up to two months in advance and frozen.

Sprouts can be prepared up to two days in advance. I like to halve or quarter them as they cook more evenly and look more appealing and colourful.

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

Make stock for the gravy from the turkey (or goose) giblets up to two days ahead. Cover them with water, bring up to the boil with a quartered onion, bay leaf and any other suitable flavourings you have to hand and simmer for an hour. Strain and store in the fridge when cold.

Always short of space, I use the car as an extended fridge, especially for a gargantuan turkey. As well as being cold it’s rodent free unlike the garage – just make sure that no one drives off with the turkey!

Too exhausted to make a pudding? Serve cheese and hand round a box of frozen Maltesers instead!

Wash up as you go along. There’s nothing more daunting, dispiriting, depressing and panic making than a sink full of dirty pots and pans. I always advise never putting down or leaving a dirty saucepan or tin in the sink.

‘Novelty’ aprons and washing up gloves cause much mirth – especially amongst the young and old…and transform a chore into fun!

Order a ham NOW – for a welcome surprise a few days before Christmas!

We’re offering lucky School Notices members 20% OFF SIGNED copies of Jane’s new book The Get-Ahead Cook. Buy yours here!

For more on Jane visit her website www.janelovett.com

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