Whether you're hosting Christmas for two people or ten, cooking at Christmas time can get stressful. To help you make sure that things run as smoothly as possible, we asked our lead home economist, Cesar for his top tips and expert advice for cooking on the big day.
How can you make a prawn cocktail really special?
If you want to make as prawn cocktail starter extra special, try sous vide cooking the prawns. Place them in a vacuum seal bag with a little butter and lemon zest and cook at 65°C for 15 minutes. The low temperature ensures that every prawn is perfectly and evenly cooked. The leftover butter from cooking your prawns can be used to roast a piece of fish for excellent flavour.
What’s the best way to cook a turkey?
I will dry brine my Turkey the night before. Simply create a rub with salt, sugar, black pepper and thyme leaves, rub all over the turkey and leave uncovered in the fridge overnight. This will allow your turkey to be fully seasoned and ensures an extra crispy skin. A Miele Combination Steam Oven with a Food Probe will be my go to appliance, as the probe ensures the turkey will be cooked to exactly 72°C - the ideal temperature. Plus, the option of roasting and steaming at the same time is second to none!
Any carving tips for the big day?
Carving will be much easier if you allow your Turkey enough time to rest and allow for all the juices to redistribute. It might sounds obvious but also make sure your knife is sharp enough!
A festive alternative to turkey?
I love cooking and serving any whole fish as an alternative to Turkey. Something like a whole roasted turbot with some buttery roasted new potatoes with lots of lemon is my ideal dish.
How to know when meat is perfectly cooked?
If your oven doesn’t come with a temperature probe, allow around 40 minutes per kilo. If your oven does come with a temperature probe, make sure you insert it right in the middle of the breast and select a core temperature of 72°C. This will allow you to have a stress free Christmas Day, as the oven will let you know the current core temperature and how much time left you have before it’s ready.
Best vegetarian recipe that is not a nut roast?
A super easy and incredible vegetarian main for Christmas could be a cauliflower, leek, caramelised shallot and truffle gratin. As a bonus, it can be made in advance (up to 48 hours) and is sure to go down a treat.
How do you achieve perfect roast potatoes?
If you have a Miele Steam Oven, always par steam rather than par boil your potatoes to get the best roasties with a fluffy inside. Place them on a perforated steam container and cook for 10 minutes at 100°C. This can be done up to 48 hours in advance. If your Miele oven allows you to, activate the crisp function when roasting them, as this will expel any moisture and give the perfect, crispy finish. Discover the full recipe for Perfect Roast Potatoes here.
What vegetables can be prepared or cooked in advance?
You can easily par steam most of your root vegetable in advance, such as carrots, parsnips and potatoes. Then, just either steam for an extra two minutes before serving or roast for 25 – 30 minutes with some honey and mustard - or your seasoning of choice.
What’s the secret to a perfect Yorkshire pudding?
The secret is to not overmix your batter! Allow it to rest for 30 minutes before baking and if possible, bake them using Miele Moisture Plus, adding one burst of steam as soon as they go into the oven. Discover the full recipe for Yorkshire Puddings here
Brussels sprouts – how is best to cook these Christmas dinner staples?
Make sure they are prepped in advance to save time on the big day. My favourite way of serving Brussels sprouts is by roasting them for 25 – 30 minutes until they are well charred all over. If your oven is already busy, pan frying them with olive oil and finishing with a little butter works just as well. Or for something a bit different, try our Cheesy Brussels Sprouts recipe.
What are your top tips for the most delicious gravy?
If you don’t want to make your own stock, rely on a good quality liquid stock. You can always boost the flavour by simmering giblets or the turkey neck in the stock. My secret weapon when making gravy is always a little black treacle to help with the colour and body of your gravy. Trust me, it works!
Any suggestions for desserts on Christmas Day – something special but not too heavy?
A Christmas pavlova or roulade can be made ahead and easily assembled just before serving. Plus, they look stunning at the centre of the table!
Do you have a recipe for a nice glaze for ham such as spiced apple?
I love using Miso paste and combining it with demerara sugar, cider vinegar, honey, dry sherry and English mustard. Or you can do a classic maple syrup glaze.
Any tips on what to do with leftovers from Christmas lunch?
My best piece of advice is only cook as much as you can realistically eat, especially if you don’t want to be eating the same dishes for the next week! If there are any leftover veggies, make a bubble and squeak, top with a poached egg and any leftover meat mixed with gravy. Yum!