The Top 4 Christmas Cooking Mistakes
The holidays are already a time filled with so much pressure—finding the right gift, hosting family and friends from out of town, and putting on the perfect holiday party. It’s easy for even a seasoned cook to make mistakes with the stress, time constraints, and expectations for a perfect meal.
Today, we’ll walk you through the most common Christmas dinner cooking mistakes so you’ll know what to be prepared for this holiday season—we trust it will be smooth sailing form here on out!
1. Soggy Vegetables
Roasted vegetables are perfect winter fare: crisp edges, soft middles, sweet and savory. It’s one of our favorite parts of the holiday plate, so, when this step goes wrong, it is devastating.
Ensure that your roasted vegetables turn out perfectly by chopping the ingredients in evenly sized pieces to guarantee that they all require the same amount of cooking time—this way, one won’t burn while the others remain raw.
Give your vegetables enough room on the pan to cook and roast, meaning don’t stuff or overfill your pan. When you overfill a baking sheet, your food will steam rather than crisp and caramelize.
Finally, make sure your vegetables are evenly coated in some fat, about 2 tablespoons for 1 sheet pan. This helps the browning process, as well as adds some extra flavor. Now that you know how to master a roasted vegetable dish, try out this delicious and festive recipe:
2. Tough Meat
A hunk of prime rib, a haunch of ham, or a perfectly pink lamb is typically the center of a Christmas dinner. But horror of horrors, something went wrong, and you’re instead left with a blue or frozen interior and a grey and overcooked exterior—juiceless and inedible.
How do we prevent this? Start with room temperature meat. Ideally, we want a larger piece of meat, like a roast, to sit at room temperature for an hour before cooking to help along even cooking and the Maillard reaction. If your meat is going from the refrigerator, or worse, the freezer, into the oven, the exterior will cook faster than the interior, and you could end up with a partially raw roast.
Once you’ve ensured that your meat has cooked properly and reached the correct internal temperature, make sure to let it rest before cutting in and serving. Tent your meat with some aluminium foil and a tea towel to maintain the heat, then leave it for another thirty minutes to allow the juices to return to the centre of the meat, resulting in a more flavorful and succulent roast.
3. Gluey Mashed Potatoes
We’ve all been there: gummy, gluey mashed potatoes. They seem better suited for papier-mâché than your plate. What went wrong?
Start with the right potato, one that is high in starch like a Russet or a Yukon gold. Other varieties, like waxy fingerlings or new potatoes won’t mash as well, or will require more work to mash, which could result in gluey potatoes. Waxy varieties instead are perfect for roasting, so use them in your roasted vegetable dishes instead.
Whether or not you’re rushing this holiday season, start with cold water with your starchy potatoes, bringing your potatoes and water to a boil together. This ensures even cooking. Once the water is boiling, reduce to a simmer for the rest of your cooking time; overheating the potatoes could break down their structure and cause them to cook unevenly.
Finally make sure that your add-in—butter, cream, or milk— is at room temperature. This will allow for easy incorporation and decrease the chances of overworking. Watch our tutorial for more tips and tricks:
4. Christmas Cookie Disaster
Nothing says Christmas dinner in my house than at least 5 different Christmas cookies. Perhaps your house wasn’t so particular, but with that many sweets underway, a number of mistakes are prone to happen.
Cookies seem like the simplest of sweets, but they require your careful attention too. Cut-out cookies in particular roll out best when they have been chilled prior to rolling, cutting, and baking.
After you mix your cookie dough, pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes, or the freezer for 15. This will prevent the cookies from spreading while baking. Rolling and cutting will also be much easier, especially if you’re working in a hot kitchen.
While it might be tempting to keep rotating cookie sheet pans right after they’ve come out of the oven, let them cool before putting your raw cookies onto them. The same logic applies as chilling the dough: a hot pan will cause your dough to spread and also begin the (uneven) cooking process. Allow your cookie sheets to cool to room temperature before you put your dough onto them by cooling them on a metal rack for a few minutes. Test out your new Christmas cookie skills with these deliciously festive recipes:
Published on December 19, 2017