Christmas dinner is possibly my favourite event come Christmas Day and not just because of the golden turkey or scrumptious pigs in blankets; the festive feast sees the whole family coming together, enjoying a great meal and appreciating each other’s company. Preparing Christmas dinner can be rather difficult, even for the most experienced cooks. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together some fantastic tips to help you create a mouth-watering feast this Christmas.
Succulent Roast Turkey
For most households the centrepiece of Christmas dinner is of course the turkey. Deceivingly difficult to cook, even the best chefs can struggle with this delicate bird. To help keep your turkey juicy, follow these top tips:
- Roast your turkey upside down for the first hour. This may sound a little backwards, but by roasting your turkey upside down on a V-rack, you will allow the meat to baste itself. Don’t worry about any marks left by the rack, once you flip the turkey back over and finish roasting, these will disappear on their own.
- One of the main causes for dry turkey is overcooking, so invest in a decent thermometer and monitor the temperature. Always check the temperature at the thickest part of the thigh; the ideal temperature for a cooked turkey is 170°F.
- The high temperatures inside your oven force the juices into the centre of the turkey. To give the juices time to flow back into the rest of the bird, let it sit for around 20 minutes before slicing.
Stuffing comes in a variety of flavours, so on Christmas Day there really is something to suite all tastes. Although the flavours may be different, the method for preparing your stuffing is the same. To avoid a dry or stodgy stuffing, follow these simple guidelines:
- To ensure your stuffing is cooked through, try rolling it in tin foil. Once it’s cooked, you can then cut it into attractive slices.
- For a little extra flavour, add ready-to-eat dried fruit. We suggest apricots or currants, or for those without a sweet tooth, add lemon zest for an extra punch.
- Adding toasted nuts to your stuffing will create texture. Chop the nuts and fry them before adding to the stuffing to bring out the flavour.
Whether you like your gravy thick or thin, lumpy or smooth, there is no denying its appeal on the dinner table. To keep the family fighting over the last drops of gravy this Christmas, follow these easy tips:
- If you’re preparing vegetarian gravy, add some caramelised onions for a little sweetness. Simply cook sliced onions on the hob in a little butter before adding brown sugar to bring out the flavour.
- The majority of people don’t like lumpy gravy. To avoid the bumps, use a wire whisk to stir.
- Preparing the Christmas dinner can be stressful, so why not cook your gravy beforehand? Freeze it in advance and defrost on the day; add a little turkey juice before serving and your guests are sure to be impressed.
Winter vegetables are some of my favourites and with roast parsnips, buttery sprouts and caramelised carrots, you should have no trouble convincing the little ones to eat their five a day. To help give your Christmas vegetables a little extra kick, follow these steps:
- To save time on Christmas Day, prepare your vegetables the night before; you can peel your carrots and sprouts on Christmas Eve and place them in the fridge to keep fresh.
- Adding bacon to a dish is never a bad thing, so try frying your sprouts with some streaky beacon to add a little texture and make them more appealing to the younger children.
- To ensure your roasties are extra crisp this year, choose a potato that contains less water. A Golden Wonder or Aaron Victoria are the best potatoes to use when roasting.
We hope these tips for preparing the perfect Christmas dinner will be useful this year. If you have any advice you’d like to share with us, please feel free to connect with us on Facebook or Twitter – we’d love to hear from you!