Our team share their top tips for the perfect Christmas dinner
Use these easy methods to take your Christmas dinner to the next level. You'll never look at sprouts the same way again.
Like all of you, the Just Hospitality gang is right in the middle of preparations for our Christmas dinners. At today's lunchtime we sent out a Christmas feast to our customers, and now it's our turn!
As you'd expect for a food company like ours, a lot of people at JH cook their family Christmas dinner every year, and the big conversation this week is what we'll each be making. The company Whatsapp has been full of tips and recipes to add that extra kick to our Christmas dinner and wow the relatives.
It seemed only fair, then, that I assembled some of the best tips here to share with all of you. These tips are all about taking the traditional dishes to the next level. Give them a read then share your own variations on the classics in the comments below or over at Twitter or Instagram. Or if you're serving up something completely different, tell us about that too. We can't wait to hear your thoughts!
Beautifully moist turkey
Photo credit - Scott Feldstein
Matt, Director of Food - I’ll be brining my turkey again this year, maybe not revolutionary but a great way to keep the bird moist. Immerse your whole turkey in water for 12 hours with oranges, lemons, sugar, salt, thyme, garlic, rosemary, bay leaves, star anise, cinnamon sticks and peppercorns. Drain, rinse, pat dry then roast like you normally would.
Easy, tasty stuffing
Susi, Development Chef - This is a very simple tip for stuffing that makes it taste amazing. Instead of using regular bread for the breadcrumbs, use pannetone. It’s already full of Christmas spices and dried fruit, so it actually halves your workload – you could literally just mix sausage meat, pannetonne crumbs and a bit of salt and it would still taste great. It’s also brilliant because people always give pannetonne as Christmas gifts and most people don’t know what to do with it. Now you have a solution.
No more bland and mushy sprouts
Jason, Head Chef - I don’t like whole sprouts – that soft texture really doesn’t do it for me. Instead I make “sprout cabbage”. You thinly slice the raw whole sprouts to make the cabbage, then sautee some pancetta or bacon and diced onion. Once the meat and onion is soft add the cabbage, a knob of butter, salt, pepper and chopped chestnuts. Toss until they're cooked, and it'll be full of flavour.
Crispy roast potatoes
Dean, Managing Director - People get all excited about how to cook a roast potato. Duck fat, half boil, sear off, add beef dripping. No! Just use Crisp ‘n’ Dry oil. It works every time with King Edwards potatoes. For the last ten minutes drain the excess oil, toss them in sea salt and roast on a high heat. You’ll end up with fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, absolutely yummo spuds. I should probably add this actually comes from Sam (Kennett, Finance Director)’s Mum. She suggested it one day and I’ve never looked back. (Editor’s note: no comment on the cholesterol content of this tip…)
Perfect mulled wine
Giusy, Catering Manager - Back when I was a pub manager I made a few litres of mulled wine every night. The trick is to add a splash of cooking brandy, some apple and orange juice and an Earl Grey teabag to whatever ingredients you usually use. For me that's red wine, sugar, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom, chopped fresh ginger and sliced oranges, but the genius of mulled wine is that you can add whichever of your favourite aromatic spices you like best. Nutmeg and vanilla pods are also pretty popular!
Ellen, Content Editor - My family’s pretty theatrical and most years we have a theme for Christmas. A couple of years ago my sister wanted a Medieval theme so I bought the cookbook A Feast of Ice and Fire, which has recipes inspired by Game of Thrones. The absolute best recipe was the onions in gravy, which you make using lots of small whole onions and flavour with apple juice. It was amazing. Quick tip if you buy the book though – pearl onions are hard to come by, so let the greengrocer know in advance that you need them.
And now it's over to you! What's your pro tip about how to make the best Christmas dinner there's ever been?
Looking for more? Try these recipes from cocktail expert Antonio for two perfect Christmas cocktails.