My top tips for a delicious (and stress free-ish) Christmas Dinner.




Prep on Christmas eve! It's all about the advance planning. Take the stress out of the day and allow yourself to have a glass of wine with family and actually enjoy your day. So here are the items that you can do in advance.


Ham

Make sure you have a big enough pan. Cook the ham on Christmas Eve. Glaze with bacon the night before.

Remove the rind that is on top of the fat. Then cut your diamond pattern into the fat.



Ham Glaze

4 x tablespoons whiskey, 4 x tablespoons Marmalade, 2 x tablespoons of dijon mustard, 2 x tablespoons of brown sugar, maple syrup or honey.

Veg

Keep the veg covered with clingfilm to keep fresh. Blanch and refresh. Boil take, out strain and then dunk them in very cold water and cover in clingfilm. Potatoes store under water. Parboil Potatoes, Carrots, Sprouts and heat on the pan on Christmas day with some chopped bacon.



On the day

Stick to tired and tested recipes as much as possible. You can add small little touches rather than trying to achieve a masterpiece on the busiest day of the year.


Roast potatoes

Parboil and rough them up in a colander and cover in duck fat or herby butter with vegetable oil. Season the potatoes while you are parboiling… lots of salt and pepper.



Brussel Sprouts

There are lots of ways to personalize this roasted Brussels sprouts with bacon recipe to your own tastes, but it all starts with perfectly roasted sprouts. Keep an eye on them so they get crisp but don’t burn. Preheat oven to 450°. In a large bowl, toss Brussels sprouts, bacon, olive oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a baking sheet. Roast, stirring halfway through cooking, until sprouts are tender and lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic glaze; serve warm.



Asparagus

This good-for-you side dish is so easy to prepare, yet the simply seasoned spears look appealing enough to serve guests. Place asparagus in a baking pan lined with tin foil. Drizzle with oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the thyme, salt and pepper. Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 10-15 minutes or until crisp-tender.



Carrots

These roasted carrots are so simple but always a hit. Cutting the carrots lengthwise makes this dish look extra pretty. Preheat oven to 400°. Place carrots in a greased 15x10x1-in. baking pan. In a small bowl, mix thyme, oil, honey and salt; brush over carrots. Roast until tender, 20-25 minutes.



Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Whenever I serve this easy mash, the bowl is always scraped clean. Before holiday feasts, I make it early and keep it warm in a slow cooker so I can focus on last-minute details. Peel and chop potatoes. Place in a large pot; add water to cover. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, until tender, 12-15 minutes. Drain.


With a mixer or whisk, beat the cream cheese, add 1/2 cup melted butter, salt and pepper until smooth. Add potatoes; beat until light and fluffy. Then top with additional melted butter (C'mon its Christmas!). Sprinkle with spring onions.


The Turkey

Get a fresh turkey rather than a frozen turkey if you can. (If frozen = defrost for a day and half.)

1 kg per person

40mins of cooking per kilo – let rest for 40mins

Use a Steam-bag. Bastes the turkey while it cooks and keeps in moisture. Don’t forget to remove the giblets.

Use thermometer / temperature probe – Turkey should be cooked at 75degrees

Use herby butter to coat the turkey (Lime zest, thyme and butter). It will keep in the moisture.


Cover turkey with buttered parchment paper and tin foil then cover the turkey in a warm towel while it is resting. This will keep the turkey warm and moist until its time to serve.


Gravy

Put veg in bottom of roasting tray. Carrots, Onions, Sage, Thyme with a bit of water. Have turkey on a rack or well propped up on the veg. Juices will drip down to bottom of roasting pan. When turkey is resting add wine, port and cook off. Add flour and strain it. If you want to get a deeper colour it with a little with soy sauce or a few bisto granules (No one will know!)

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