Christmas cooking tips from top chefs
We've had some corking, not to mention enlightening, webchats with celeb chefs over the years. Never stuff a turkey?! Who knew... Here's a round-up of some of the top tips on Christmas cooking our chefs have imparted.
1. Supper the night before Christmas
"For Christmas Eve, I'm doing a salmon wellington - so like a beef wellington, but with salmon instead."
2. Favourite stuffing
"How about sausage meat, chickpeas, lemon, with a little bit of garlic? It's wonderful with turkey or goose."
3. Christmas lunch
"Goose has always been my Christmas dinner of choice. I love all the fat that you can use afterwards, especially for roast potatoes. I treat getting as much meat as I can off the bones as a challenge - just get stuck in there with your fingers! But the best bit really is the crisp skin. It has to be roast goose, and lots of roast potatoes, followed by Christmas pudding, brandy butter, wearing a silly paper hat, and then falling asleep in front of the telly!"
4. Edible gifts
"I will probably end up making cheese shortbreads with pumpkin seeds, sesame and sunflower seeds. They always seem to go down very well."
5. Alternative Christmas dessert
"How about a big ice-cream sundae, with vanilla ice-cream, chocolate sauce and praline?"
"For a Christmas Day starter, what's wrong with smoked salmon? All you have to do is open a packet. The best one I've found is from Inverawe in Scotland - it's what the chefs use. It's fantastic on buttered blinis with crème fraiche and Avruga caviar that you can buy in the supermarkets."
"Duck is difficult to cook. If it's a farm duck you can cook it pink, however, my best suggestion is to slow roast it. Rub it with a little bit of oil and sea salt, and set the oven at about 140C and cook it for two hours, then turn it up to brown it for another half an hour. Try putting it on a trivet, which is a separate tray that sits above the veg so all the fat will drip down rather than fry."
"NEVER stuff a turkey. Don't put anything in the cavity. It makes the turkey too dense, so the air can't circulate properly. Always cook the stuffing separately or put it in the neck end - 80 to 90% of food poisoning is caused by things that you eat at home."
"Parsnips are wonderful if you cook them with sherry. Cook them with honey, olive oil and a bit of salt, then add a splash of sherry at the end."
"The only thing you should have uncooked (but parboiled) on Christmas Day is the potatoes and the parsnips. All your vegetables should be cooked the night before then plunged in cold water."
"You'll never be able to cook your roast potatoes and your turkey in the same oven. When you get the turkey out, rest it for 45 minutes, whack the temperature on the oven up and add the parboiled potatoes."
"A fantastic gluten-free dessert for Christmas Day is the rosemary and chocolate fondant in the Masterchef: The Finalists book. It's so easy to do and you can swap in the plain flour with gluten-free."
"My mum makes the best stuffing for Christmas. Sweat down shallots or onions in butter and allow them to cook. Fry off some bacon lardons and mix with packet stuffing mixure, then add the onion and a bit of sausage meat. I like to add fresh herbs like parsley and thyme, too."
"I love a good mince pie. I like them made with shortcrust pastry and also love them when they're made with filo - they're very tasty and light. Try using less dried fruit and more poached fresh fruit to add more flavour, dimension and texture."