Turkey...and all the trimmings

Plan your holiday dinner according to our schedule and spend less time in the kitchen on the big day.

By Elizabeth Baird and The Canadian Living Test Kitchen

Turkey dinner plan

Want to spend less time in the kitchen on the big day? Yes, you can - with make-ahead dishes, family helpers and smart-serving strategies

Christmas Dinner Plan

Up to two weeks ahead:
• Make and freeze stuffing for turkey
• Make and freeze parsnip purée
• Prepare and freeze red pepper mixture for peas

Two days ahead:
• Start thawing parsnip purée

One day ahead:
• Prepare and refrigerate turkey
• Thaw stuffing in refrigerator
• Prepare and refrigerate brussels sprouts
• Make and refrigerate potato casserole
• Make and refrigerate dessert

THE BIG DAY

4 to 5 hours ahead:
• Start roasting turkey

About 45 minutes ahead:
• Take turkey out of oven
• Bake dressing
• Bake brussels sprouts
• Heat potato casserole

About 20 mintues ahead:
• Heat parsnip purée

About 15 minutes ahead:
• Prepare peas
• Reheat sauce for dessert


STRATEGIES

• Roast the turkey unstuffed.
You can't stuff the turkey ahead of time, but you can make the dressing well before the 25th to cook separately on the big day. The bonus - you can prep and season the bird the day before. Unstuffed, it cooks more quickly.

• Share the work.
Christmas is a time for giving - and receiving. If you're the host, do invite your guests to bring vegetable side dishes to reheat while the turkey rests.

• Clear the clutter.
Once the turkey is out of the oven, you have about 45 minutes while it stands and is carved. Use the stove top for gravy and peas, the microwave for vegetable dishes such as the parsnip purée and the oven to finish off the remaining dishes.


Turkey Dinner 101

Classic Roast Turkey and Gravy
Simple aromatic herbs lend gentle flavour to the meat, and a butter rub makes the skin crisp and golden.

Fruity Nut Dressing
This is decidedly delicious and much easier than stuffing the turkey on Christmas morning.

Saucy Brussels Sprouts
Tender brussels sprouts in a cheesy sauce is an easy make-ahead dish.

Parsnip Carrot Purée
The sweetness of carrots mellows and complements the flavour of parsnips in this colourful dish.

Sensational Potato Casserole
Golden potatoes give this a bright glow, but white potatoes work well, too.

Confetti Peas
Christmas colours and a mint accent add a special sparkle to peas.

Eggnog Mousse Cake with Mandarin Mincemeat Sauce
Traditional holiday flavours get dressed up for this new presentation.

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