How To Cook A Christmas Dinner

ED TAN tackles a tricky Christmas roast on an illegal college hob plate. And there’s even leftovers…

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Armed with a college illegal hob plate, two stolen microwave ovens from neighbours, and a sense of enthusiasm from watching countless TV cookery programmes, I set myself the task of cooking a full Christmas roast. Simple, right?

Step 1: Buy the ingredients

The thought of dragging everything back through town was too much to bear, so I resorted to shopping online for it all, racking up a bill of £85, including turkey and all the trimmings. In hindsight, I may have bought too much. I was only aiming to feed around eight people, so a more realistic expenditure would have probably been £70-£75. Oh well, leftovers galore!

So perhaps I bought too much…

Step 2: Plan

Everything I read online stated the importance of planning – and being the amateur chef and male that I am, I ignored them. My plan revolved around the simple calculation that the turkey would take three hours, and that everything else could be cooked in those three hours.

Looking professional


Potatoes (and goose fat)
Parsnips (honey roasted)
Mixed vegetables
Pigs in blankets
Cranberry sauce
Mince pies, yule log and cream

Step 3: Preparation (12pm)

Never before have I ever felt so clueless about cooking as I did when I opened my turkey and tried to track down the wishbone. WHERE THE HELL WAS IT? A tip from a housemate saw me poking around its arse, which I’m now CERTAIN was the wrong area as I discovered when I later carved it.

Turkey: an absolute minefield

The giblets provided a few giggles, though not quite as amusing as finding the turkey neck which had been shoved up the rear end. There is however, a certain satisfaction to smearing rosemary and garlic butter all over the turkey and under its skin. The clean up’s an absolute bitch though.

Cutting of all the vegetables began around this time as well, making sure that everything was peeled, clean and cut.

Step 4: Cook (3pm)

Equipped with Delia’s turkey cooking instructions, the turkey went in at around 3pm, but had to call a halt to it 20 mins later when I discovered that my lovely microwave oven had started burning my turkey. Not a fantastic start. A quick run down to the shops to pick up some tin foil (like I said, I didn’t plan…) and the turkey was back in and cooking nicely around 3.30pm.

Tin foil is essential

I now understand why Christmas cooking is so stressful – as you have to be constantly checking/basting your turkey while cooking everything else. But with Buble tickling my ears in the background, I powered through and began cooking everything. Parboiling all the vegetables first so that I could roast them later, I was kept busy for pretty much the entire time onwards, running back and forth cooking things partially or putting them in the oven to finish off roasting.

Inevitably, the turkey was undercooked at the end of its allotted three hours – which was actually pretty handy since everything else was running behind as well.

Step 5: Eat (7pm)

I think the photos are pretty self explanatory:

Yum, yum, yum!

Who said a Pimm’s jug wouldn’t make a good gravy boat?


After all the hard work and effort, Christmas dinner was a success. The turkey was slightly undercooked on the underside, but we didn’t make it that far anyways. Using a Pimm’s jug as a gravy bowl may not have been the best idea I’ve had, as the Pimm’s stirrer was twisted by the heat (but I hear melted plastic gives good flavour). There was even enough bacon at the end for a bacon weave sandwich with a filling of sausage, bacon and stuffing.

The perfect sandwich

Merry Christmas!