There's no doubt that Christmas this year is going to be very different for everyone, with many of us cooking to serve less guests than usual. To help you make sure that things run as smoothly as possible, we asked MasterChef: The Professionals Rematch winner and our own Chef Ambassador, Sven-Hanson Britt for all his top tips and expert advice for cooking on the big day.
Q What’s the best way to cook a turkey?
A For me there’s only one fool-proof way and that is to remove the legs from the crown, take the bones out of the legs, maybe put a little bit of stuffing in there, roll those and wrap in foil so you have a large baton sausage of turkey leg and that goes in your baking tray with the turkey crown. Baste that in butter, season, pop tin foil on top and cook at 200˚C for half an hour. Remember your meat has been brought up to room temperature before. Then take the foil off the breasts, turn the temperature down to 180˚C and cook for another 30 minutes depending on the size of the turkey. Use a temperature probe to bring the meat up to a temperature of 72˚C. Cook for another 30-45 minutes then let it rest for another 90 for a beautiful tender turkey, which is easy to portion.
Q Best recipe for stuffing?
A I love stuffing so for me it’s about balance. Start with sausage meat or wet breadcrumbs with chestnuts for vegetarians or vegans. Add breadcrumbs for binding and texture then you want flavour, sweetness, acidity, saltiness, umami and get the balance right.
Q Any tips for the best way to cook roast potatoes to make them nice and crispy?
A Fully cook your potatoes before you put them in the oven – not par boiled but fully cooked. Steam them in the Miele Steam Oven until fully cooked, give them a fluff up then hot oven, hot tray, hot fat – try goose or beef dripping or a vegetable oil – nice and hot. Make sure the potatoes are dry, put them in at 220˚C for 20 minutes then another 25 minutes at 200˚C. Super crispy, super light and fluffy, Maris Pipers are the ones you want to go for. Lots of seasoning. A bit of crushed garlic and rosemary just tossed through at the end will lift them. Serve straight away.
Q How to make perfect turkey gravy?
A Really easy; put some water in the tray while roasting the turkey as that will turn into a juicy, delicious, rich stock. Take all the trimmings from your turkey including wing tips, any skin, all the bits you’re not going to eat, chop that up finely, sweat it down in a pan, add some white wine and cook adding water thickened with flour along with the roasting juices from your cooked turkey.
Q Can you give me a good idea for making sprouts more interesting?
A Sprouts are probably the most interesting vegetable out there. I love to deep fry them so get some clarified butter or bacon fat and deep fry the sprouts whole in that until they cook all the way through with a crispy outside and steamed inside which is soft with umami. Or cook them with some pancetta, some bacon, chestnuts and garlic like a fricassee, fry the bacon down, add garlic, shallots, sprouts, butter, throw in some chestnuts and add a few spoons of water to allow the sprouts to soften properly.
Q Do you have a recipe for a nice glaze for ham such as spiced apple?
A Take a mulled cider and cook the ham in that with slices of apple studded on with cloves. Beautiful glazes balance sweet and sour so with cider you can add some cider vinegar. Serve with something creamy and rich or fresh. I always go for a mustard glaze sometimes with brown sugar or honey on top of that.
Q How can you make a prawn cocktail really special?
A Add a Lobster! Buy a few and boil in salted water - the tails take about four minutes depending on the size and the claws, about seven minutes. Crack them open, chop them up, use Marie Rose sauce with a splash of brandy and a little bit of spice such as some cayenne pepper or a bit of tabasco and a little quail egg on top of that with some lettuce.
Q Best vegetarian recipe that is not a nut roast?
A I agree that nut roast is not something you want to be eating for many meals of the year so I always go for beautiful vegetables that are in season. Find a great cauliflower, celeriac, swede or turnip and make that the centrepiece. Roast it, coat it in some spices, add some other herbs and flavourings like garlic and thyme, wrap it up, bake it whole and you have this beautiful vegetable cooked in its skin taking in all the same flavours you would a piece of meat. Carve it up and have that as your centrepiece. A long and slow roast is a wonderful thing.
Q Do you have a tasty homemade bread sauce recipe?
A It’s very simple and what you have to get right is the ingredients otherwise it’s very bland. You need great bread (grated, dried, stale, sourdough or a homemade loaf), good milk and an onion studded with cloves and a bay leaf. Infuse the onion in the milk, pour over the bread, finish with nutmeg and a knob of butter.
Q Any suggestions for dessert on Xmas day – something special but not too heavy?
A I’m not a huge fan of Christmas pudding so I always look to cook something different. For me it’s got to be something special, so a tart is a really beautiful thing – I love a lemon or chocolate tart.
Q Any tips on what to do with leftovers from Christmas lunch?
A I would say try not to have any leftovers. We should be planning properly, ordering the right ingredients for the things we love to cook and the things we love to eat. Cater for the people that are coming for Christmas unless you love leftovers and eating them from the fridge like a Christmas dinner sandwich. Cook something you love, order a smaller turkey, cook less, have zero waste.
Q On what setting do you cook meat in the fan oven or grill and fan oven?
A The meat is your showpiece, so the most important thing is to bring it out of the fridge a few hours before cooking to bring it up to room temperature. You can even take it out the night before. Cook a turkey in the fan oven on the Fan Plus setting in your Miele oven at about 200˚C to start with and then drop it down to 180˚C. If it’s a piece of beef or goose, then also cook at 200˚C on Fan Plus and you won’t go wrong.
Q How best to make the most of a full steam oven or the steam feature on a second oven on Christmas Day?
A To reduce cooking stress, blanch all your vegetables the evening before and keep them all on trays in your fridge so they can just be warmed back up in the steam oven on the day. You can also fully cook your potatoes the day before ready to just heat up in hot oil. The turkey can also start to cook in the steam oven. The stressful things are all the garnishes, the roast potatoes, the sauces and the timings of bringing it all together. But if the vegetables are part cooked then all they need is three to five minutes in a steam oven to reheat them. If your sauces are done and in a sealed container, they can just go back into the steam oven to heat them too. Use your temperature probe with the turkey and relax.
Q Do you have a good recipe for vegan Yorkshire puddings?
A It’s not often that I admit defeat but you got me on this one – the quick answer is no. I’ve tried every single option and every single possibility but of course Yorkshire puddings contain eggs and milk. It would be easy to swap out the milk, as you can just use a plant-based milk instead but it’s the eggs that give it the rise. I’ve tried other things but you don’t end up with anything that resembles a Yorkshire pudding. I will keep trying and keep developing so who knows, maybe next year we’ll have a good vegan Yorkie.
Q Any tips on how to avoid food waste at Christmas?
A It’s a huge issue in our homes. Turn vegetable peelings or trimmings into crisps, order smaller joints of meat, maybe a joint of beef instead of turkey and think about the number of people you’re cooking for to work out what you actually need.
Read our blog post for more tips on reducing food waste this Christmas.