The Perfect Christmas Day Lunch
Christmas Day should be a day of minimal stress within the kitchen. Enabling more time to spend with your loved ones enjoying each others company, laughing, having fun with a tipple or ten!! Christmas day lunch should not be a manic rush, with pots and pans boiling away, buzzers going off, but should be a more controlled environment with most of the preparations done days in advance. The cooking of the glorified Sunday lunch should be a well oiled machine, working in the background with minimum effort, not distracting from the joys of Christmas. Here is my step by step guide to help create the perfect Christmas lunch. Therefore contributing to the perfect Christmas day, enabling you to spend more valuable time with the people you care about at Christmas.
Planning and Preparation
The key to a smooth flowing & stress free day is to start your preparations well in advance, with Christmas landing on a Wednesday this year, I would suggest starting to prepare on Monday.
Order your turkey, sausage meat and pigs in blankets from your butcher well in advance. I prefer a boned and rolled breast of turkey wrapped in streaky bacon for better flavour and to protect the meat during the cooking process. All good butchers will prepare your turkey as you wish. Gather the other ingredients needed over the weekend prior to Christmas day. I would recommend investing in a temperature food probe to cook your Turkey bang on the money!!
Ingredients and Mis en Plas (Based on 8 people)
Collect your meat from the butchers
Simple Cranberry Sauce
250g fresh Cranberries
Zest and juice of 1 large Orange
100g Light Muscavado Sugar
3-4 table spoons of Port
Cranberries, water, Orange juice and zest into pan, boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add sugar and port, stir until sugar is dissolved, simmer for a further 5-7 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Set aside cool and refrigerate.
Chestnut and Cranberry Stuffing
450g Sausage Meat (Free Range)
150g Chestnuts (Grated) – I use vacpac pre prepared for convenience
50g Dried Cranberries (whole)
50g Natural Breadcrumbs
1 White Onion (Finely diced)
2 Eggs (Free Range)
Thyme Leaves and Parsley (fresh and chopped)
Add all the ingredients into a bowl and mix well, line out some tin foil on the kitchen surface with some parchment paper on top of that, add the mixture into the centre of the parchment paper and mould into a sausage shape. Wrap the paper and foil around the sausage around the mix and twist the ends to form a more even sausage. Cook in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for 30 minutes
Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage
2 Red Onions (Sliced)
1 medium size Red Cabbage (Sliced)
2 Cooking Apples (Grated)
100g Dried Sultanas (Whole)
1 x Cinnamon stick
1 tbsp All Spice
100ml Balsamic vinegar
100g Soft Dark Brown Sugar
Add all the ingredients to a pan and cook on a low heat until all liqueur is reduced and you have a nice dark rich purple colour. Keep moving every 10 minutes or so in the pan while cooking.
Make ahead gravy (Makes over 1.5 litres)
Roughly Chop – 3 Carrots, 3 White Onions, 3 Sticks of Celery
15 Chicken Wings (Bashed with rolling Pin)
4 rashers Smokey Bacon (Diced)
5 tbsp Plain Flour
2 x Bay Leaves
3 Sprigs of Rosemary
150ml Red Wine
Bunch of Thyme
Add all the Vegetables, Bacon and Chicken wings into a high sided roasting dish, roast at 180 for 1 hour. Remove the tray from the oven place on a hob on a low heat mashing all the ingredients together, add 150ml Red Wine and reduce. Add the flour gradually, mixing as you go. Add 2.5 litres of boiling water from the kettle and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring and scraping all the goodness off the bottom of the tray. Strain of the ingredients, set aside, cool and refrigerate over night.
Prepare and cook all your vegetables the day before, refresh in ice cold water. Drain and season using a dressing of your choice for the vegetables. Take your pick when it comes to vegetables, I personally enjoy Almond Butter Sprouts, Caraway Seed Carrots & Cavalo Nero.
Arrange nicely in a vegetable dish, cling film and set aside in the fridge. On the day cook in the Microwave (yes Microwave!!!) and place in the middle of the table for people to help themselves. Christmas Day
Weave Thyme Sprigs through the string on the Turkey Breast and season with Cracked Black Pepper and Sea Salt. On your work surface, line out plenty of tin foil with some parchment on top, Sit the Turkey on top and fold the foil and paper up around the Turkey to create almost like an ‘en Papillote’. This will collect all the juices from the Turkey to add to your gravy to intensify the flavour.
Cook at 220 degrees in a pre heated oven for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160 degrees. Cook for around 45 minutes per kilo, pull out of the oven once the Turkey gets to 65 degrees as residual cooking will rise by around 10 degrees to reach the 75 degrees the Turkey needs to achieve in the centre of the joint. Allow plenty of resting time, pierce the wrapping paper to allow steam to escape, but leave it within the wrapping paper until ready to carve later. Once well rested add the resting juices to your gravy. Cook your pigs in blankets thoroughly and slice the stuffing into discs and re heat prior to serving
The Roasties & Honey Roast Parsnips
Peel the potatoes and half (King Edwards), place in cold salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes or until there is some give in the potato, drain and leave them to one side. Meanwhile add Goose Fat, Thyme Sprigs and a whole Garlic Bulb (Halved) into a roasting tray and pre heat at 180degrees, add the potatoes to the hot goose fat and aromats, coating each potato with the fat and season well. Cook until golden and crispy.
Peel the parsnips and chop into evenly size generous chunks, place in a roasting tray with honey, oil (to prevent the honey from catching and burning) and season well, cook until soft with crisp outer edges along with a nice caramelised colour.
Reheat all your vegetables (In the Microwave just prior to serving) put the gravy and red cabbage on a low heat and cook gently up to temperature, slice the meat, assemble your plates with all the other accompaniments and serve.