Christmas cooking tips and tricks to make today’s feast your best ever

The big day is finally here and in just a few hours it will be time to call your loved ones to the table to tuck into that delicious Christmas feast.

Whether you’re sticking to the traditional turkey, or switching things up for 2020, it’s one of the best meals of the year – but that means it can be tricky to cook.

Luckily lots of celebrity chefs have shared their tips and tricks to make the perfect Christmas dinner, and it could make this year your best yet.

We’ve brought together some of the best bits of advice to help you in the kitchen today – and to help you avoid any disasters.

Raymond Blanc’s perfect roast potatoes
According to Raymond, the first thing you need to do is think about the fat you’re going to use.

He said: “The very best oil to cook your roasties in is goose fat. It has the most extraordinary flavour. If you’re vegan, you could consider sunflower oil.

“Goose fat is an excellent fat because it tastes delicious and it really adds something to the potatoes and is a monounsaturated fat.

“So in terms of health, it’s a good fat. Maybe not as good as olive oil but I wouldn’t want to use it at 170 degrees.

“At that temperature, you would lose all the benefits and it would be acrid.”

Slice your potatoes into quarters because you want to maximise “the crispy part and the melting part.”

The chef adds: “That is the height of total bliss.

“You want them to be about 3 or 4cm and make sure your potato is peeled. You can keep the peel and deep fry them for an aperitif.

“They can be served with spices such as cumin, chilli or fennel seeds. They are really lovely to offer to your guests and I often use them as a garnish with sunflower seeds. It is a lovely bit of texture.”

Once you’ve parboiled your potatoes for 6-7 minutes, let them steam for a few minutes and give them a big shake.

Raymond said: “Then make sure you heat your oil and in one single layer, you add your potatoes very gentle.

“You should preheat the oven at 200 degrees and cook them for 30-40 minutes.

“Make you season them with good British salt and black pepper.

“Occasionally stir them in the oven and remember you can keep them warm in the oven for at least one hour.

“They will have a gorgeous crunchy crust and a soft heart.”

Marcus Wareing’s mash
The Masterchef star claims people make three big errors with their mash – cutting their potatoes to different sizes, boiling them too quickly and failing to leave them to rest.

He explains: “First, peel the potatoes cleanly, then wash them and cut them all into evenly sized pieces, otherwise the smaller potato pieces will overcook, and before they break they will absorb water, which will make your mash watery and tasteless.

“Boil them in salted water at a slow boil – a fast boil will overcook the outside before the middle of the potato chunks are cooked through; you don’t want lumps of overcooked potato in your mash.

“Once the potatoes are cooked all the way through, but not quite falling apart, drain and leave them for a good five minutes, then shake them around and put them back in the pan, off the heat.

“The potatoes should then be hot enough to take the butter on board.

“Mash to your liking – a potato ricer really does help.”

After following these steps, you can add more flavour to your mash by using butter, cheese or herbs.

Another way to enrich the mixture is by adding egg yolk and some milk.

Turkey that’s never dry
According to Food and Wine’s culinary director, Justin Chapple, smothering a turkey in mayonnaise is the secret to cooking the perfect roast.

And he says that spreading the meat with the mayo doesn’t impact the taste of the bird – so all those who hate mayonnaise can try it too.

“When you cover your turkey with mayonnaise, it bastes it during the roasting process, keeping the meat moist and tender,” he explains.

He goes on to say that while you can just spoon mayonnaise on the turkey straight from the jar, he prefers to make a chipotle version – though you could add your own flavourings.

In order to make his version, he mixes one tablespoon of chopped, fresh thyme with one cup (128g) of mayonnaise, the zest of a whole lemon, three grated garlic cloves and minced chipotle chillies.

Once all these items are combined he loosens the skin on the turkey breasts and thighs, so he is able to spread the mayonnaise on the top of it and under it.

He adds: “You want to put the mayo on the outside and inside of the turkey so it gets extra juicy.”

The perfect gravy
There’s no need to cut corners and reach for the instant gravy this Christmas.

Jeff Baker, executive development chef at Farmison & Co, shared his simple technique.

After roasting your Christmas bird, simply tip the excess fat from your roasting tray and add stock of your choice (we recommend you match with your meat for the best flavour).

With the stock in the tray, scrape any leftover meat sediment into the stock and boil to reduce the volume.

Add herbs of your choice and pass the liquid through a fine sieve into a clean pan.

Want a real rich treat?

Reduce the gravy to a syrup texture and whisk in a large knob of cold unsalted butter and enjoy!

Peel your carrots in half the time
2020 taught us that many of us are using our peelers wrong – and doing it the correct way could save you a lot of time.

Account manager Tim, 51, took to Reddit to explain the correct way to use a peel after his girlfriend corrected his technique.

Tim starts by peeling the carrot as he usually would, putting the blade at the top of the carrot and running it to the tip, but instead of taking the peeler off and repeating, he pushes it back to the top instead.

After trying it a couple of times, Tim looks into the camera and says “Oh my God, I just figured out how to use this”.

He continues: “I’ve been doing this…” as he demonstrates how people usually use their peelers.

But you can actually peel both ways, speeding up the entire process drastically.

Thanks Tim.

Make your brussels sprouts more popular
According to Nigella Lawson, mixing up your sprout recipes can make them a hit, rather than just a tradition we all begrudgingly follow.

She told the Guardian: “I will not condone any sprout-spurning.

“But those prone to this could try undercooking sprouts, and tossing them in crisp pancetta cubes and buttered chestnuts, then splosh with marsala and carpet with parsley.”

Perfectly risen Yorkshire puddings
Okay, we don’t want to start a Christmas Day row about whether you should have Yorkshires on your festive plate.

BUT, we thought we would include this one just in case you’ve opted to have them today.

Jim is back to help us out here, and having spent many years perfecting the shape and golden exterior of the much-loved Yorkshire pudding, Jeff reveals the key to success is to use “the freshest eggs possible”.

He explained: “There is no better accompaniment to an incredible Topside or Sirloin Beef joint than the traditional Yorkshire pudding.

“The trick to creating a perfectly risen pud that is still crispy around the edges and soft in the middle is to ensure the fat is practically smoking before putting the batter in the trays. My tried and tested recipe promises to make about 12 Yorkshires.”