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The perfect Christmas dinner

15 DECEMBER 2011

 

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Christmas is a time of lavish extravagance in almost everything you do. From the presents to the parties, quite simply everything is bigger and better during the holiday season. This is certainly the case with food. Yuletide dining has become quite a significant event as magnificent spreads and feasts are lovingly prepared and laid out up and down the country. With fridges stocked to the brim, the Christmas dinner is one of the key facets of the day itself. Here's how to make sure yours goes down a storm in 2011.

Turkey and gravy
As a nation that treasures tradition, it is little surprise that the turkey remains the number one meat choice for Christmas. Keep yours moist and juicy by generously basting the bird with melted butter before seasoning it, topping it with streaky bacon and wrapping it in foil. Make sure you leave enough room for the air to circulate during cooking. Blast the bird for 40 minutes at 220 degrees C before cooking for a further couple of hours at 170 degrees C. Finally, remove the foil and turn the heat back up for another half an hour to get that perfect crispy skin.

For the gravy, it's important to remember that turkeys tend to lean towards the lean end of the scale. Therefore, it's a good idea to add some water to the roasting tin before cooking; else you may end up with a substantial amount of grease and rather little in the way of meat juices to play with. If making a giblet stock feels like one task to many, add them, minus the liver which will make the final product too bitter, to the roasting tin with half an onion and a bay leaf for perfect flavouring. This tasty base can then be topped up with chicken stock or water as desired.

Stuffing
The favoured part of the Christmas meal for millions of people around the world, your stuffing has the potential to make or break your culinary efforts. Get it right, and it's the perfect complement to the main event. Get it wrong, and you'll have an awful lot of waste. Again, in traditional terms, sage and onion stuffing is the classic staple but there are a number of flavours to create so don't be afraid of getting experimental. For example, chestnut and prune or apricot and ginger stuffing can be both different and delicious.

Roast potatoes
Likewise, there is no great secret to great roast potatoes. One tip is to add peelings to the pan when they are parboiling, which adds a surprising amount of flavour. There's no need to labour blood, sweat and tears over them however, all you really need is hot fat and an even hotter oven.

Such is the scale of the task; don't be afraid to look for shortcuts to ease your workload. Microwaves, in particular, can be a godsend at this time of year and are perfect for quickly topping up temperatures and ensuring everything is served piping hot. The key to success is delicious platefuls served up on time.

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