Home for the Holidays: Avoid stress by cooking Christmas dinner the night before

Click to play video: 'Avoid the stress by cooking Christmas dinner the night before' Avoid the stress by cooking Christmas dinner the night before
WATCH ABOVE: It's the most wonderful time of the year unless you're the one tasked with preparing the big meal. Minna Rhee met up with entertaining expert Sebastien Centner to find out how to cook Christmas dinner without stressing out – Nov 28, 2018

It’s the most wonderful time of the year unless you’re the one tasked with preparing the big meal.

Minna Rhee met up with entertaining expert Sebastien Centner to find out how to cook Christmas dinner without stressing out.

“Cook the entire meal a day or two before so that you can enjoy time with your guests. Braised beef and vegetables, mashed potatoes with peruvian purple potatoes, and slanted panna cotta with roasted strawberries can all be prepped and left in the fridge, just reheated before servin,.” said Centner, who is the director of Eatertainment Hospitality, one of Canada’s leading restaurant and catering companies.

Braised Beef & Vegetables

· 1 teaspoon olive oil
· 1 (3-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 6 x 8oz pieces
· 1 teaspoon kosher salt
· 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
· 2 cups coarsely chopped onion
· 4 large carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces
· ½ acorn squash, cut into ½” wedges
· 1 cup dry red wine
· 4 thyme sprigs
· 3 garlic cloves, chopped
· 1 litre beef broth
· 2 bay leaves
· Fresh thyme leaves (optional)

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Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sprinkle meat with salt and pepper. Add each to pan; cook to brown on each side. Remove meat from pan. Add onions and sauté five minutes until it begins to brown.
Return browned roast to pan. Add the red wine, thyme sprigs, chopped garlic, beef broth, and bay leaf to pan; bring to a simmer. Cover pan and bake at 350 degrees for one and a half hours or until the roast is almost tender.
Add carrots and squash to pan. Cover and bake an additional one hour or until vegetables are tender. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf from pan; discard. Serve roast with vegetable mixture and cooking liquid. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired.

Roasted Strawberry (Slanted) Panna Cotta

Yield: Eight servings

4 cups heavy cream (or half-and-half or sub half coconut milk and half cream for an Asian-inspired panna cotta)
½ cup sugar
2 tsp of vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 packets powdered gelatin (about 4 tsp)
6 tbsp (90ml) cold water

Roasted strawberries:
450-500 gm strawberries, quartered
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1½ tbsp white wine


1. Heat the heavy cream and sugar in a saucepan.
2. Once the sugar is dissolved, and the cream is substantially warm, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract.
3. (If using a vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream and add the bean pod. Cover, and let infuse for 30 minutes. Remove the bean then rewarm the mixture before continuing.)
4. Lightly grease the custard cups or any mold that you are using for your panna cotta with a neutral-tasting oil.
5. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 5 to 10 minutes till it swells up.
6. Pour the very warm Panna Cotta mixture over the gelatin and stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.
7. Divide the Panna Cotta mixture into the prepared cups. If you are wary whether your gelatin has set or not, strain the mixture before pouring into the cups.
8. Pour the Panna Cotta mixture into wine goblets so you can serve them in the glasses, without unmolding. To get the slanting look I have in the first photograph, hold the glasses in a slanting position with the help of a muffin pan that comfortably holds them at a slant. You can even fill the muffin cup itself with rice beforehand so the glasses don’t shift once they’re in place. Pour the cream-gelatin mix into glasses until half full. Allow to chill in slanting position until set.
9. Once set you can keep them upright and pour in the roasted strawberries.
10. To make Panna Cotta with sheet gelatin: Soften 25 grams (approximately six sheets) in a liter of cold water for five to 10 minutes. Wring the sheets out and stir them into the warm Panna Cotta mixture in step No. 4, until dissolved.

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For the Roasted Strawberries
1. Place the strawberries in a glass baking dish.
2. Sprinkle over the vanilla sugar, followed by the white wine and champagne flavored oil. Mix gently.
3. Bake in a preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. Allow to cool. Resist to finish the whole thing off.
4. Drain strawberries. Put the liquid into a sauce pan, and reduce to a thick concentrate. Chill before use.

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