Beans of any kind do well in the microwave as do purées such as squash or mashed potatoes. Just make sure the dish will fit in the microwave; it is very frustrating to have to look for other dishes while trying to carve the turkey.
For reheating Brussels sprouts, little onions or mushrooms, put them in a sauté pan with some butter over medium heat. Cover just as the butter sizzles and cook for about 10 minutes.
I strongly recommend making a list with when dishes go in oven or microwave. Lists help to organize you.
How much turkey should I buy per person?
Turkey size depends on the appetites. I usually count on onr pound and eight ounces of turkey (750 grams) per person, giving a good amount of leftovers for turkey sandwiches or your favourite leftover the next day.
No more Brussels sprouts. What are some other side dishes that work for Christmas?
Vegetables are always my favourite part of the meal, so each year I try to do something different.
Sweet and sour red cabbage is a family favourite and looks gorgeous with the turkey. Another is a combination of whole mushrooms, shallots and prunes.
Experiment with several different kinds of squash, just cut them in slices and roast. Add a flavoured butter on top, such a cinnamon, garlic or shallot.
Take a vegetable such as Brussels sprouts and add chopped kimchee (a la David Chang) or Thai curry paste and coconut milk for a really different take.
I don’t want to make turkey this year. What else will impress my guests?
My favourite Christmas dinner is roast beef. A large standing rib roast in all its glory is my to-die-for meal.
Another choice is a crown roast of pork. The stuffing can go in the middle so it feels holiday-appropriate.
One of my friends always makes lasagne because she says she can’t be bothered the rest of the year to do it properly. It’s another good choice.
I get so stressed over this dinner. Please make my life easier with your secrets.
Organization is the key. Even though I am not much of a list maker, this is the time for it. Look for some elements that you can buy. Buy cranberry sauce, a squash side dish or even the stuffing. One friend always buys the gravy but makes everything else. She stirs the gravy into the roasting pan after the turkey comes out and there it is, tasty and ready. Buying dessert is a no-brainer but go to a really good bakery. The dessert should be as good as the rest of your meal.
Make sure all the serving dishes are out so you are not hunting for plates at the last minute.
Ask family or friends to make things for you, it really helps. But check the timing tips in an earlier question to make sure everything is hot at the same time.
I have a large group so we set the festive dining table but place all the food on another table or the kitchen counters and people help themselves. So much easier and everyone takes what they want.
Is it possible to do a make-ahead Christmas dinner?
Yes, it is, as long as the turkey is made fresh. Here are some tips.
You can freeze mashed potatoes in an oven-proof gratin dish. Reheat from frozen at 350 F for about 45 minutes.
All vegetables can be prepared up to three days in advance. Taste for seasoning before serving.
I often serve an apple cranberry crumble for dessert, which can be made and frozen, although it will keep for five days refrigerated.
Cranberry sauce keeps two weeks without spoiling.
If you make a sauce rather than gravy (reducing wine and stock, finishing with cream or butter) it will keep a week after making.
Serve smoked salmon as a first course or make a soup that you freeze earlier in the month.
I want to cook a turkey and a filet roast but only have one oven. What should I do?
Two choices: The turkey has to rest for 20 minutes before carving, which gives you time to put in the filet roast. Crank the oven up to 450 F about 10 minutes before taking out the bird. Take it out and add the filet roast on a rack over a roasting pan. Look for a longer, thinner one rather than short and fat. Filets cook by the thickness not the poundage - about 10 minutes to an inch.
The roast will take about 25 to 30 minutes for medium-rare. It should be ready for slicing after the turkey is sliced.
Or you can cook it at 325 F for one hour with your turkey (assuming that is your oven temperature for the turkey) but it won’t be as flavourful.