I am ‘Mr Christmas’ at home. I sort out everything from the tree, the shopping and of course the food.
My Christmas dinner is as simple as can be but provides maximum flavor. You still have all the favorites in there; golden & crispy roast potatoes, oodles of stuffing, bread & cranberry sauces and of course the pigs in blankets. But, there is one thing you might think controversial… No turkey. I’m bored of the big dry birds that cause worry throughout the nation. Stick to a big corn fed chicken wrapped in streaky bacon and you are onto an absolute winner.
The secret to Christmas cooking is learning to cope with the chaos and enjoying yourself. Crank up the carols, get the fizz flowing and let me guide you through the feasting.
- Cranberry sauce: tip berries and water into heavy pan. Boil briefly for 5 seconds, then simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in sugar, taste for balance. Add wine (if using).
- Stuffing: fry onion gently in butter for 8 minutes. When soft, tip into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and mix. Cool before using.
- Bread sauce: add first four ingredients to a pan. Bring to boiling point, then remove from heat & cover.
- Chicken: each 450g weight needs 20 minutes cooking, so check the label, calculate accordingly and add 20 minutes. Spoon stuffing into cavity without over-filling, then tie the legs together.
- Pre-heat oven to 180C/gas mark 4. Sit bird in large roasting tin, rub with butter & lay the bacon over the breast. Add oil to pan and roast for calculated time. Baste occasionally and cover with foil if browning too fast.
- Potatoes: boil 7 minutes, drain and shuffle in pan for 5 seconds. Cool and season. Roast on an oiled tray or around chicken for the final hour of cooking.
- Pigs: stretch bacon by running a knife-back along the rashers on a board. Wrap one around each sausage at a slight angle to cover. Lay on an oiled tray.
- Bread sauce: remove the onion. Add breadcrumbs & 1 teaspoon butter. Simmer on low to thicken (roughly 10 mins). Remove onion. Cover.
- Test chicken by pushing a skewer/knife into leg for 5 seconds: the juices should run clear (not at all pink) and the breast meat should be white. Return to oven to finish or rest on plate in a warm place. Increase heat to 220C/gas mark 7. Put the pigs in and crisp the potatoes up for 15-20 minutes.
- Sprouts: boil 7-10 minutes and drain.
- Gravy: remove potatoes from tin & transfer to a warm plate. Put tin on hob, adding liquid ingredients & chicken juices. Stir, boil, and reduce by a third. Taste & add seasoning/lemon juice accordingly.
- Re-heat bread sauce gently, bits removed, cream and butter added. Sit bird on plate with the pigs and roasties. Put sauces in bowls, gravy in jug. Carve at the table.