On the second day of Chefmas Josh Eggleton gave to me…
Five tips to a Michelin-quality Christmas dinner:
- Start your roasties the night before
If you prep and par-boil your roast potatoes the night before, I promise they’ll be the best you’ve ever had. Peel and blanch them, then shake them up so they’re nice and fluffy. Cover them in goose fat or a good quality British rapeseed oil and stick them in the fridge overnight. When it comes to roasting them the next day they’ll be nice and cold, which is going to help make them even crispier when you stick them in the oven for roasting.
- Sprouts everyone will love
Sprouts are the Marmite of the veg world, but follow these recipes and there’ll be no middle ground – the whole family will love them. The key is to blanch the sprouts, but be careful not to overcook them and leave them to one side (you can do this on Christmas Eve when you’re prepping your roasties). When it’s time to get them ready, stick them in a roasting tin with loads of chestnuts and get all that bacon fat to go with them. Or you can go to your greengrocer and get a few sprout tops, these are the little leaf clusters that grow at the top of the stalk. Steam them and butter them up – perfect.
- Don’t be afraid to do things differently
The most important thing about your Christmas dinner shouldn’t be how traditional it is, it’s all about how tasty it is. So, if you’re getting a bit sick of turkey, or prefer something else like goose or even seafood then don’t be afraid to change it up.
“Personally I like beef on Christmas Day, locally sourced and aged for at least 28 days. I’d always go for slow roasting it first, then sticking up the heat at the end to caramelise it. Make sure you rest it for as long as you cook it and don’t worry about it going cold but don’t put it back in the oven to reheat it. Slice it and make sure the gravy is piping hot then pour it over the beef to warm it up.
- No need for starters; it’s all about the snacks
There’s no need to do a starter with Christmas dinner, it’s just too time consuming to make and plate up. The best thing you can do is make some great snacks. Homemade sausage rolls are a great option. They’re a speciality of my girlfriend Meg and they always go down a treat. Drinks are just as important, and you want to make sure you’ve got a good mix so that there’s something for everyone and if you want to go non-alcoholic, then a Virgin Mary with loads of spice is a great shout and you’ve got to have dry sherry at Christmas!
- Get the whole family involved
It shouldn’t be the case that just one person does all the work for Christmas dinner. If you’ve got a big group friends coming round then share the load. If you’re making the main dinner, give someone else the task of making an amazing dessert. Get the kids to help peeling and making Yorkshire pudding batter and always make sure you’ve got someone on drinks duty.