Christmas Day hints and tips

Get ahead this Christmas with executive chef, Neil Haydock’s top Christmas tips

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Do something different.
Don’t be afraid to swerve away from the traditional Christmas turkey. Why not go with duck, rib of beef or the fail safe chicken? Trust me, no one will be disappointed! This year, i’ll be having duck – perfect if there are only 2-4 at your table – with a spiced clementine and kumquat sauce.

Be prepared.
Get as much done in advance as possible and ask for help. Peel all your veggies the night before and leave them in the fridge under a damp cloth. Your potatoes can be peeled on Christmas morning and left to soak in salted water, but don’t leave them too long (certainly not overnight) as the more water they absorb the less crispy they get and everyone loves a crispy roastie on Christmas Day! Take a look at our top tip on making the perfect roast potatoes.

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Make gravy ahead of time.
Don’t wait until your turkey’s cooked to make the gravy, make some up beforehand and freeze, then you can add the juices from the turkey on the day to liven it up, you could even add a spoon full of cranberry sauce to give it a real Christmas kick! You can make your gravy ahead by roasting up some chicken wings and making gravy as you would normally or make extra from one of your Sunday roasts. Check out our guide to the perfect gravy.

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Use herbs.
Include plenty of fresh herbs in your Christmas lunch to give some real depth of flavour. Rosemary, sage, thyme and bay leaves all work well with a roast.

Write a list.
Timing is everything, work out exactly how long everything needs to cooks for, how it’s going to fit in your oven and when you want everything to be ready. Plan for half an hour before you want to sit down. And, don’t forget to rest your meat.

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Go for a cold starter.
As your oven is going to be working on over drive, make things a little easier for you by creating a cold starter. You can make this well ahead and you don’t have to worry too much about timings as it won’t be served warm. Prawns, pate, terrine and salmon are all good. You don’t want to be in the kitchen while everyone else is having fun.

Vegetarian ideas.
Ideas for our vegetarian friends. If you have time and budget try to do something really special. Try a vegetable rosti with a poached duck egg for that wow factor, and all the usual Christmas trimmings, of course. Or if you like to try a fish dish this year why not go for sustainable Cornish hake.

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