Whether you like it or not, Christmas dominates December. Be it the festive adverts that rule supreme on the screen or the high-streets which are lined with blaring Santa-themed lights, it’s the season that takes over the nation like no other. It makes perfect sense, then, that Christmas dinner is the meal of the year. It’s the roast to defeat all roasts. It’s the gastronomic version of a World Cup final. And if it’s a failure, you may as well expect a year of silence and resent from relatives and friends.
To help you avoid any culinary catastrophes, we’ve compiled a set of recipes from the UK’s finest chefs, each with their own take on the various components of a Christmas dinner. Aprons on, gents…
Roast turkey by Gordon Ramsay - aromatic, simple to make and succulent
For the turkey:
• 1 free-range turkey (ideally Norfolk Black or Bronze), about 5–5.5kg
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 onions, peeled and halved
• 1 lemon, halved
• 1 head of garlic, halved horizontally
• 6 bay leaves
• Olive oil
• 8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
For the lemon, parsley and garlic butter:
• 375g butter, at room temperature
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• Finely grated zest and the juice of 2 small lemons
• 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
• Small bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves only, chopped
1. Start with the butter in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
2. Add a splash of olive oil – this is crucial as it will prevent the butter from burning.
3. Then add the zest of the two lemons (and their juice).
4. Then puree the garlic and add to the bowl.
5. Chop your parsley, add to the bowl and mix.
6. Now for the turkey. Season inside the cavity with salt and pepper.
7. Then, halve two onions and place inside. They will steam while cooking, giving off a sweet aroma.
8. Add in a lemon and a bay leaf for bitterness.
9. Gently loosen the skin of the turkey by poking your fingers underneath. Work from the back and then switch the bird around and loosen the skin on the other side– make sure you keep everything intact.
10. Work half the butter into a ball and stuff into the open spaces under the skin. Massage gently and make sure the butter reaches the breast – this will keep it moist. Turn the turkey around and use the last half of the butter to stuff under the other side. With whatever butter’s left, massage over the top of the breast and wings.
11. Place it into a tray and splash some olive oil all over.
12. Place in the oven at 220C for ten minutes just to get it brown. After ten minutes, take it out, baste it and place strips of bacon on top (horizontally)
13. Turn the oven down to 180C and roast for two hours. Take out and baste every so often.
Roast potatoes by Jamie Oliver - fluffy, crunchy, carby perfection
• 1.5 kg Maris Piper potatoes
• 1 bulb of garlic
• Red wine vinegar
• 3 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 bunch of fresh rosemary
• 1 bunch of fresh sage
• 1 bush fresh thyme
• 50g unsalted butter
• 1 clementine
• 2 tablespoons goose fat
• 2 fresh bay leaves
1. Peel and hard-boil the potatoes in salted water for ten minutes. Place them in a colander afterwards.
2. Line your tray with olive oil.
3. Place your potatoes in a single layer inside the tray (you may need more than one). Season with salt and pepper.
4. Cook for half an hour at 190C.
5. After half an hour, remove from the oven. To increase the surface area of the potatoes, lightly squash them with a masher.
6. Now, coat some rosemary with olive oil and a splash of vinegar (the latter ingredient will give a nice kick to the potato). Place on top of the spuds and add cloves of garlic. Depending on what you prefer, you can also try a combination of thyme, garlic and bay or sage, garlic and clementine zest.
7. Place back in oven for a further 25 – 30 minutes
Brussels sprouts by High Feanley-Whittingstall
• 800g brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved, or whole if small
• 700g shallots, peeled and halved (or small onions, peeled and halved or quartered)
• 5 tbsp rapeseed oil
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 5-6 sprigs thyme, plus a bit more for serving
• A generous squeeze of lemon juice
1. Heat the oven to 190C.
2. Place the sprouts and shallots into a roasting tin, splash oil and season with salt and pepper.
3. Sprinkle thyme sprigs around the contents.
4. Put in the oven for around 30 – 35 minutes. Halfway through, give it a stir.
5. Once a bit crisp and brown, squeeze over with lemon juice and add thyme leaves.
Curry-glazed parsnips by Heston Blumenthal
- 140g honey
- 100g unsalted butter
- 2 tsp curry powder
- 750g parsnips
- 30g streaky bacon
- 10g sea salt
- ¼ tsp curry powder
1. Peel parsnips, remove top and tail, cut into quarters (length-ways), remove the root and cut in half again.
2. Put the curry powder in a pan on a high-heat hob. Stir the spice around occasionally.
3. Put some butter in a separate pan on a medium heat. Add nearly all the curry powder. Cook the butter and as it starts to bubble, pour in the honey.
4. Put the parsnips into the pan, stir, put the lid on then cook for approximately 30 minutes.
5. A few minutes before the parnships are cooked, get some rashers and slice into lardons. Fry them in a pan until crisp and dark brown. Drain on some kitchen paper and add to the parsnip mix.
6. Mix together.
7. Just before the end, add the last bit of curry powder to a bowl of salt flakes.
8. Plate up the parsnips and sprinkle the curried salt.
Gravy by Rick Stein
• 1 tbsp sunflower oil
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 1 carrot, chopped
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 tbsp plain flour
• 50ml white wine
• 850ml homemade or bought chicken or turkey stock
• Juices from the turkey
• Giblets (but discard liver)
1. Heat the oil, then fry the carrot, onion, giblets and bay leaf. Stir frequently until the onion is golden.
2. Stir in the flour, then pour in the stock while stirring. Simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Remove the bay leaf and giblets and purée the contents of the pan with a hand blender until completely smooth.
4. When you remove the turkey from the oven, pour the juices from the tray into a jug or bowl. Leave to stand so that excess oil from the turkey rises to the top.
5. Skim off as much fat as you can and throw away, then add the juice to the gravy base and stir on the hob until bubbling.
6. Season to taste.
Cranberry and port relish by Marcus Wareing
• 1 x 340g pack fresh cranberries
• 6oz/180g caster sugar
• 1 orange, grated zest and juice
• 7 fl oz/200ml water
• 2 star anise (optional)
• 3 tbsp ruby port
1. Add all ingredients into a saucepan, stir and bring to the boil.
2. Cover and simmer for ten minutes until almost all berries have burst. Crush any whole ones against the side of the pan.
3. Leave to cool and remove the star anise.
4. Pour into an empty jam jar.