Matt Pollard, our Group Executive Chef, has put together his top 5 tips for you to get ahead with your Christmas dinner so you can enjoy Christmas Day with your loved ones.
Tip 1 - Prepare what you can the day before, peel and chop everything you can and store ready to cook in the morning, leaving more time for celebrating! Peel and chop your potatoes ready to be parboiled and roasted on the day itself. Red cabbage can be made well in advance and even kept in the freezer. Your stuffing, pigs in blankets, cauliflower cheese and even your gravy can all be prepped a day or two ahead and stored in the fridge.
Tip 2 – For the best Christmas turkey, carefully pull back the turkey skin and thinly slice some butter. Push the butter up and under the skin before cooking; the butter then melts through the meat to make it tender and also helps crisp up the skin.
Pro tip, grating orange zest, cracked black pepper and Maldon salt over the butter first is even better!
Tip 3 - Fresh sprouts make a world of difference to frozen sprouts. Get them fresh off the stalk. Put a cross in the stem below and peel off the first layer of older leaves, which can be a bit chewy. Cutting the cross in the stalk helps them cook better.
For perfectly cooked sprouts, cook these until just tender in salted boiling water. Then toss up some smoked bacon in a pan, add your sprouts along with a handful of chopped chestnuts, salt and plenty of pepper
Tip 4 - Make your own pigs in blankets. Roll a slice of good quality smoked pancetta or streaky bacon, around a good long chipolata for the best-ever festive side dish.
Tip 5 - To get the best roasties, peel and quarter potatoes the night before then store in salted water. On the day, boil until just turning soft, then drain and leave to steam dry in the sink for a couple of minutes and remove most of the moisture. Carefully toss them in the colander so the outside breaks up and fluffs up a bit. Then cover in goose or duck fat, heavily season with good salt, pepper, rosemary & thyme then roast at a high heat, frequently turning and basting them with the oil, this will give an excellent crispy crust around them.