The final countdown to Christmas is on – and Jamie Oliver is on hand to ensure you have a panic-free festive season! The beloved television chef has teamed up with HELLO! to create a trusty guide packed with recipes and tips on everything you need to know, from when to make your gravy ahead of the big day to baking mince pies to perfection.
Revealing he'll be cooking for his family of seven this year, the British star has already kicked off the Christmas period with his latest book, Jamie Oliver's Christmas Cookbook jam-packed with fuss-free, delicious recipes to save you slaving away for hours in the kitchen during the festivities.
"It's the one time of the year when the public really need your help – they're vulnerable, they're nervous," he told HELLO! about his decision to create the recipe book. "There's a huge proportion of people worrying over human things like, 'It's my first Christmas with my new partner; my in-laws are coming; I've got 12 to dinner and two of them are a nightmare.' Really, it was probably the first book I should have written in terms of helping people out."
December 13th is the perfect time to start honing your Christmas cooking – and Jamie’s recipe for mouth-watering mince pies is a great place to start!
Check back in next week for Jamie’s recipe for Get Ahead Gravy and stay tuned for further recipes and top tips to make sure you stay one step ahead in the run-up to the big day!
CLASSIC MINCE PIES
FLAKY PASTRY, MINCEMEAT, SWEET SQUASH, ALMONDS & MAPLE SYRUP
I love all mince pies at Christmas. This is my nod to the more traditional variety, but I think these are just a bit more interesting than usual, as the addition of delicious, sweet squash really lightens the classic mix.
Total time: 2 hours 15 minutes, plus cooling
1 butternut squash (1.2kg)
1 x 820g jar of quality mincemeat
4 tablespoons maple syrup
100g blanched almonds
500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
250g unsalted butter (cold), plus extra for greasing
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon semi-skimmed milk
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Roast the whole squash for 1 hour 30 minutes, or until cooked through. Once cool enough to handle, halve and deseed, then scoop half the soft flesh into a bowl to cool (you only need half here, so keep the remaining roasted squash for another recipe, such as the one on page 146 in my Christmas Cookbook).
Meanwhile, to make the pastry, sieve the flour and icing sugar on to a clean work surface. Cube the cold butter, then use your thumbs and fingertips to rub it into the flour and sugar until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture. Beat 2 eggs and the milk and add to the mixture, then gently work it together until you have a ball of dough – don’t work it too much at this stage as you want to keep it crumbly and short. Flour your clean work surface, pat the dough into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge for at least half an hour.
Lightly grease two 12-hole muffin tins with butter. Add the mincemeat and maple syrup to the bowl of cooled squash, then chop and add the almonds and mix together. Roll out the pastry on a clean flour-dusted surface to 3mm thick. Use a 10cm pastry cutter to cut out 24 circles of dough, then ease and press them into your prepared tins. Equally divide up the filling, then cut out 8cm circles from your leftover pastry to top the pies, crimping the edges together as you go. You can also add pastry shapes to decorate, depending on how many offcuts you have. Brush the tops of the pies with beaten egg, also using it to help you stick on any pastry decorations you’ve cut out.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the middle of the oven, or until golden. Leave to cool and firm up for 10 minutes in the tins, then carefully transfer to a wire cooling rack. Dust lightly from a height with icing sugar and serve. Lovely hot with a drizzle of custard, or warm or cold with a cup of tea. You can also box them up for another day, and they’re great as a gift, too.
Get ahead! I love making these in advance. Stack them in the freezer and you can cook the directly from frozen, with a light egg wash, for 35 minutes.
Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook by Jamie Oliver is published by Penguin Random House ⓒ Jamie Oliver Enterprises Limited (2016 Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook). Photographer: David Loftus. .