With just hours before Christmas Day, many will be making a quick dash to the supermarket to pick up the last turkeys and sprouts.
But those who are more organised – or haven’t been affected by last minute tier changes – may be using today to brine their poultry and prep their veg.
To help take some of the stress out of the Christmas cooking, Andrew Dixon Head Chef tutor at the five-star hotel The Grand, York’s cookery school, has given his top tips for creating the perfect meal.
Speaking to FEMAIL, he reveals how to perfect crispy roasties and how to stop your turkey from trying out…
To help take some of the stress out of the Christmas cooking, Andrew Dixon Head Chef tutor at the five-star hotel The Grand, York’s cookery school, has given his top tips for creating the perfect meal. Pictured is his Christmas turkey
Add star anise to your bread sauce
For a faultless bread sauce infuse one star anise, two cloves, a teaspoon of mixed spice and a small finely diced onion into a pint of full fat milk by warming over a medium heat. Add 250g of white bread (crusts removed) and stir into the warm milk until the bread breaks up.
Season with salt and pepper and blend the sauce to a fine puree and add more milk to thin if needed.
By preparing well in advance, you can enjoy a stress-free Christmas day and spend time with loved ones rather than in the kitchen!’
LET THE TURKEY REACH 75C AND LEAVE TO REST
‘Turkey, like all poultry, needs to be cooked to a core temperature of 75C and once cooked should be left to rest, uncovered for a minimum of 30 minutes. It can be common for people to put foil over the top, but this will only dry out the meat.
Once you’ve rested the turkey, only the surface will have cooled so you will only need to warm this for 3-4 minutes in the oven if needed.’
TAKE THE LEGS OFF AND STUFF THEM
‘It’s completely personal preference whether to use a crown or full turkey, however I prefer to take the legs off the bone and stuff them!
‘This can be done the day before Christmas and rewarmed on the day. I’ll then cook my turkey crown with plenty of sage and garlic butter to give a perfectly festive flavour.’
BLANCHE YOUR POTATOES FOR PERFECT ROASTIES
‘Blanche your potatoes in heavily salted water until just cooked then drain in a colander and toss to achieve fluffy edges.
‘Then, heat your roasting tray in the oven with both duck fat and unsalted butter until hot, add your potatoes and top with fresh thyme, rosemary, and crushed garlic.
‘Turn each potato until they’re covered in the duck fat and butter, then place the tray into the hot oven for around 30 to 40 minutes. Once they start to brown, turn on a regular basis.’
Andrew Dixon (pictured) Head Chef tutor at the five-star hotel The Grand, York’s cookery school, shared his tips
GET A RIB OF BEEF IF YOU DON’T LIKE TURKEY
‘If turkey isn’t to your liking, my personal favourite alternative meat is a rib of beef, cooked rare, or a nice Christmas goose.
‘For the vegetarian or vegan alternatives, a root vegetable wellington with a port wine gravy always goes down well as a festive alternative.’
NEVER LEAVE IT TO THE LAST MINUTE
‘Don’t leave anything until the last minute, start your preparations two to three days before the big day.
For the perfect stuffing use good quality sausage meat and mix with dried cranberries, cooked chestnuts, confit onions, garlic and freshly chopped parsley and sage.
Cook by rolling into balls or place into a lined bread tin and bake until golden and crispy.
ADD WINE TO TURKEY FAT FOR THE PERFECT GRAVY
‘Using the tray your turkey has cooked and rested in, drain off any fat and deglaze with a good glass or two of red wine, shallots, garlic and sage. I’d then reduce this by three quarters and add chicken or turkey stock and reduce to a coating consistency. Once reduced, pass this through a sieve, discard the flavourings and enjoy your perfect gravy!’
PREPARING AHEAD OF TIME IS INVALUABLE
‘Preparing ahead of time is invaluable. On Christmas Day the only things I cook are turkey, pigs in blankets, gravy and potatoes, everything else will be prepared in advance. So, whether it’s stuffing, cranberry sauce or any other sides, I’ll prep these ahead of time.
‘Another great tip is to cook your vegetables (excluding potatoes) the day before.
‘You can do this by cooking until almost cooked, then plunging into ice water to cool down rapidly.
‘Alternatively, you could opt for an easy roast vegetable medley and put them all in the oven on Christmas day to roast with minimal fuss.’
GET A MEAT THERMOMETER
‘I’d always recommend having a meat thermometer, as this way you can ensure the star of the show, the turkey, is perfectly cooked to 75C’.