How to make the perfect Christmas dinner with Crisp ‘n Dry (a collaboration)
Making Christmas Dinner can be very daunting. I remember very clearly the first time I made one and I was scared. Having always had my Mum’s delicious Christmas dinners on Christmas Day, which quite honestly is the best one, I probably put too much pressure on myself. I was worried that I would not cook the turkey properly and I was concerned that I would not get everything ready at the same time. I attempted my first Christmas dinner in my first (bought) house which I shared with an ex boyfriend so we are talking about 15 years ago probably. I think I did it twice over two consecutive years and then I did not cook another one until I was pregnant with Burton in 2008. That Christmas dinner was a vast improvement on my earlier attempts and I did not feel quite so nervous about it. I think watching lots of Nigella and Jamie Oliver Christmas cooking shows, and owning some festive cookbooks in the years in-between helped me, and gave me some confidence to really push the boat out and enjoy cooking Christmas dinner instead of dreading it!
Since then I think I have cooked every year, taking it in turns to cook for my family one year and then my OH’s the next. I like to think I cook a Christmas dinner almost as good as my Mum’s now, and last year having cooked for 14 relatives, I no longer feel nervous about it because it is just down to lots of planning and preparation, and getting the timings of every element right.
So I present to you my Crisp’n Dry practice run of making a Christmas Dinner fit for your loved ones on Christmas Day, showing you how using a good quality oil can also make a difference to the taste and cooking of your food. There is nothing wrong with having a pre-Christmas dinner to practice cooking all of the elements that make the meal so special. This post will show you my own personal way to achieve a great tasting Christmas dinner and the BEST roast potatoes. Everyone has their own way of cooking Christmas dinner and their own traditions that make is so unique and special to their family, but hopefully this guide will go some way to offer some tips that I have learnt over the years, that might help to overcome the daunting feeling that cooking a Christmas dinner can make you feel.
Tip One – Preparation is Key
I like to try and get as much prep done before Christmas Day as possible, afterall who wants to spend all morning in the kitchen, especially when you have children or family visiting? I want to spend time with them opening presents and enjoying the festivities. I usually make my stuffing, cauliflower cheese, wrap my sausages in bacon, peel and chop my vegetables and prep my turkey Christmas Eve, while listening to Christmas songs. I actually quite like doing this, and yes it takes a while, especially when you have a lot to cater for, but to me it is part and parcel of Christmas. Of course you could be even more prepared and make and freeze your pigs in blankets a few weeks earlier, you could do the same with a lot of your veg and even the cauliflower cheese. I often prepare my turkey ready for the morning too.
Tip Two – Devise A Cooking Plan
Write a list – a plan of timings for everything that needs cooking, a checklist that you can refer to while cooking the dinner. I start off with what time I want to eat and then work out how long everything takes to cook and work back from that. So to eat at 1.30pm, if my turkey takes 2 hours and 55 minutes then that means to allow time for it to rest, and turn the oven up to cook my roast potatoes, then that means that the turkey needs to go into the oven at 9am. I find that more often than not my turkey always cooks faster than the time stated on the packaging, so I always check the bird at regular intervals. I find that with my timings to hand, I am near enough ready to serve on time, give or take 15 minutes or so!
Tip Three: The Turkey
I ensure that I buy the best quality turkey I can afford, afterall Christmas is only once a year and it is the main event asides from the presents! I like to add lots of flavour to my meat so I use lemon and thyme, with a little garlic and black pepper. I like to add the fruit slices and herbs under the skin of the bird, so that the flavour gets into the meat and helps to retain moisture in what can be a dry meat if you are not careful. I also add two lemon halves and a handful of thyme into the cavity of my bird too, again to add more flavour and to keep the turkey moist. This can be done Christmas Eve to save a little time the following morning.
While your oven is warming up, add your oil to your turkey. I like to make a little oil marinade to pack in yet more flavour, so to my Crisp’n Dry oil I add some lemon zest, thyme, garlic and black pepper, and then I cover my turkey in it using a brush in to every nook and cranny. And then it in it goes to roast away, and fill the house with tantalising aromas!
Keep checking regularly to make sure it does not burn, if you think it is looking a bit dark, then cover it with some foil
When you think it is cooked, you can check with a thermometer, as I say I find the turkey cooks quicker than is often started on the packaging.
Tip Four: The BEST Roast Potatoes
Having watched several Jamie Oliver festive cooking show over the years, I think I have perfected my roast potatoes now, so here is my way of ensuring the crispiest on the outside yet fluffy on the inside roast potatoes.
Choose a good roasting potato like a King Edward
Cut your potatoes so that they are all the same size to ensure equal roasting time
Ensure you cut your potatoes so that there are edges – this will help them retain their crispness during roasting
Parboil your potatoes for 5 minutes
Drain them and then shake them in the pan to get them powdery all over (see photo below)
Choose a good quality oil to roast them in. I recommend Crisp ‘n Dry because it has a higher smoking point, making them perfect for making the best roast potatoes.
Heat the oil in a very hot oven (220oC) for 10 minutes to get the oil smoking hot
Quickly and carefully add the potatoes to the hot oil and return to the oven
Do not open the oven door for 30 minutes
Then turn the potatoes over in the oil
And return to the oven for a further 20 minutes to finish.
Now you will have the BEST roast potatoes for the best Christmas dinner
Using a good oil ensures that all of your food is cooked well and has a great flavour. I make a glaze for my parsnips using Crisp ‘ n Dry oil, maple syrup, lemon and thyme which not only makes tasty, crispy parsnips but they complement the meat to.
You can also add a small amount of oil to grease your baking trays with too.
Tip Five: Enjoy It
As I mentioned earlier, I was really worried when I made a Christmas dinner the very first time, and probably the second time too. BUT now I really enjoy the whole process. You just need to believe in yourself and in your produce and ideas, and with a plan and a schedule, and maybe a glass or two of something alcoholic to relax you, Christmas dinner can be fun and something to look forward too. When it gets put on the table and all of your family, those who mean the most to you, are gathered around, together, to celebrate the day with you, well it does not get much better to be honest. It is even better when they tuck in and enjoy the food too of course.
So relax and do not get stressed, just take it as it comes and if dinner is a little late then so be it. The wait will be worth it.
What tips do you have for cooking a great Christmas dinner?
My Christmas Dinner was prepared in collaboration with Crisp ‘ n Dry. For more information please visit their website http://www.crispndry.co.uk filled with recipes and tips.