Christmas dinner is one of those big deal meals that needs to be done right. It comes around once a year and though it sounds simple enough — roast meat and veg, a rich gravy, and a lovely pudding to round it out — there’s a lot riding on it, your reputation as killer home cook, for one. We’ve compiled a how-to for creating a stress-free Christmas dinner from some of our favourite chefs.
Use the right equipment
A poor workman blames his tools, but what about chefs? Michelin starred Marcus Wareing reckons that a solid foundation for a good Christmas dinner lies in the quality of your utensils. According to Wareing, excellent knives, a high quality roasting tin and some heavy bottomed pans are an essential starting point for a delicious festive feast.
Create a timetable
Gordon Ramsay emphasises that ‘the most important thing to do is get a timetable down’. He doesn’t advocate doing anything minute-by-minute, but says that sketching out what you’ll be cooking throughout the day is really helpful in managing the stress of cooking lots of food for lots of people.
It’s turkey time
With six Michelin stars under his belt, you have to hand it to him — Heston Blumenthal knows what he’s talking about. So when we read that he recommends prepping your turkey on Christmas Eve, our ears pricked up. Blumenthal brines his bird in the fridge for 12 hours overnight and then uses an intensive roasting process that imbues flavour and moisture.
Don’t forget the gravy!
Monica Galetti, Masterchef judge and chef patron of London’s Mere, says that to achieve a nutty nuanced taste through your gravy, you should toast the flour in the oven for five minutes before cooking with it. Simply spread it on a baking tray at 180 before you work with it, and your gravy will be given real depth of colour and flavour.
Ridiculously good roast potatoes
Roast potatoes may not be on the menu at Angela Hartnett’s Michelin-starred Murano, but the chef still has some tips for how to get them perfect. ‘Fluff them,’ she says, recommending you drain the potatoes and then shake them in the pan to create rough edges which will in turn crisp up in the hot, golden fat.
Christmas pudding is something that can be made well ahead of time (six weeks is usual), so it shouldn’t add too much to your workload on the day. Executive pastry chef Sarah Barber shares her go-to recipe here and says that adding grated apple helps to keep it moist. She also opts for soaking it in apple-based calvados over regular brandy as it’s a little sweeter.
One for the chef and one for the pot
Finally, celebrity chef Gino D’Acampo recommends having a glass of wine on the go at all times. If drinking isn’t really your thing, do whatever it is that helps you unwind, whether that’s your favourite festive music playing in the kitchen, or getting the family to help you prep the sprouts so you can spend time together. It’s Christmas, after all!
Let us know how you get on with these chef-approved tips on Twitter, or leave us a comment to tell us what your Christmas day timetable looks like.