Traditional Christmas dinner made easy

Prepare classic roast turkey with homemade gravy, plus find delicious recipes for stuffing and sides.

Cooking the turkey
©iStockphoto.com/kajakiki

In spite of December being a busy month of shopping, decorating, baking and cooking, we want to do it all and still produce a magnificent feast on the 25th. After all, Christmas dinner is the meal we look forward to all year long. Here are lots of options to make the traditional Christmas dinner a delicious reality.

For the centrepiece turkey, there are simple and concise cooking directions, no matter what size of bird. For the all-important accompaniments, there are at least three options each for dressings, potatoes and side dishes. All have make-ahead directions designed so you can reheat them while the bird stands before being carved. We're also sharing secrets for a tasty, smooth and perfect gravy, something that you've shared your anxiety about in the past.

With these recipes, you can pick and choose and mix and match. You'll soon see that preparing the big feast is easier than you think. So go ahead and enjoy the day by the tree, in the kitchen, then at the table.

Part 1: Turkey how-tos
Thawing
Leave turkey in original package. Never thaw turkey at room temperature.
• Refrigerator: Place turkey on large tray in refrigerator. Allow 5 hours per pound (500 g) thawing time. For 25 lb (11 kg) turkey, it takes 5 days.
• Cold Water: Place turkey in large container or sink and cover completely with cold water. Allow 1 hour per pound (500 g) thawing time. Change water at least every hour.

Roasting
• Remove wrappings, giblets and neck.
• Pat dry inside and out.
• For unstuffed turkey, insert 2 bay leaves in body cavity and 1 in neck cavity. Quarter 2 onions and place in both body and neck cavities. Sprinkle cavities with 1/2 tsp (2 mL) each salt and pepper and generous sprinkle of fresh or dried herbs, such as savory, thyme or sage.

Page 1 of 3 -- Discover what makes great homemade gravy on page 2

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