Over 300,000 people planning to cook their first-ever Christmas dinner

Some will be winging it, and many admit to being worried about doing a fowl job

Most Irish people plan to have fewer guests around their dinner table this Christmas Day due to the Covid-19 crisis, research from Ireland’s food safety watchdog suggests.

The Safefood survey also reports that as many as one in 10 people plan to deliver a cooked meal to a friend or family member who is unable to visit them as a result of public health restrictions.

It suggests that more than 300,000 people are getting ready to cook their first-ever Christmas dinner, with tens of thousands admitting to being worried about doing a fowl job.

All told, 51 per cent of people are planning to have a smaller gathering this Christmas, while 9 per cent are likely to deliver a cooked Christmas dinner to a loved one or friend.

The findings suggest that 27 per cent are planning to buy a turkey crown, while 17 per cent will put a boned and rolled turkey in the oven on the big day and 42 per cent still plan to cook a full turkey.

Dos and don’ts

The food safety watchdog has published a list of dos and don'ts and will once again be using artificial intelligence in the form of its chatbot that will be available on Facebook Messenger, Google Assist and Alexa to assist panicked chefs.

"With so many people cooking Christmas dinner for the first time this year, we really want to help build confidence ahead of what might seem like a big task," said safefood's Dr Linda Gordon, Safefood's chief specialist in food science.

She said the key was “to give yourself plenty of time – whether that’s how long to defrost a frozen turkey, how long to cook it for or how long to keep leftovers”.

Safefood also noted that with smaller groups of people coming together on Christmas Day this year, turkey leftovers might be plentiful.

As with any cooked leftover, safefood said it should be cooled and put in the fridge within two hours of cooking and eaten within three days. Its research found that 12 per cent of people keep their turkey for longer than this, some for up to five days or more, which can increase the risk of food poisoning.