For many, Christmas Day lunch is a daunting task for numerous reasons.
Some have never cooked such a large amount, others don’t like the big day pressure, and some just don’t want to cook at all.
If this is your first time to produce the Christmas feast or even if you’re a dab hand, the best advice I can give you, just like the Scouts, is be prepared.
Don’t leave all the food preparation until the morning; vegetables can be peeled, blanched and quickly cooled then stored in the fridge so all they need is a dunking in boiling water, seasoned, buttered and then they are ready to serve.
Root vegetables can be peeled and left in cold water until they are ready to put in the oven. All this can be done on Christmas Eve with the help of all the family.
Work out your turkey cooking time and work back from that as to when the roasts go in. Remember the meat will need to rest for at least 20 minutes.
If you are cooking for a lot of people, put the vegetables in bowls in the middle of the table. This enables you to carve and serve the meat, keeping it hot. All you need then is the gravy/sauce. This can be made in advance and frozen or stored in the fridge to be heated up on the day. You will need good chicken stock for this.
Christmas Day gravy
Ingredients for stock
Carcasses of two chickens chopped
20 chicken wings
2 onions cut into 2cm chunks
1 leek split, washed and cut into 3cm pieces
2 carrots peeled cut into 2cm chunks
1. Roast the bones and wings in the oven until golden brown all over.
2. Place all the bones in a large saucepan and pour some water into the roasting tray stirring to pick up all the sticky juices. Pour over the bones.
3. Pour three litres of water into this pan.
4. Gently bring to the boil and simmer, skimming off any scum and oil that floats to the top.
5. After an hour add the rest of the ingredients and continue to simmer for another two hours.
6. Strain through a fine sieve, cool and store in the fridge for up to three days or freeze. You should have about two litres
Ingredients for gravy
2 litres chicken stock
2 onions sliced
200ml white wine
40g butter cut into small cubes and chilled
1. Heat the knob of butter in a large saucepan. Add the sliced onions.
2. Stir and leave until they start to caramelise. Now add two tablespoons of water and stir being careful of the steam.
3. Leave again until the onions caramelise again and add more water. Do this process until they are a lovely caramel colour all over.
4. Add the wine and reduce by half.
5. Add all the stock and the thyme.
6. Simmer and reduce until you have about 1 litre of liquid.
7. Strain through a fine sieve into a saucepan if using straight away. If you want you can now cool the gravy and store in the fridge for up to three days.
8. Put the gravy back on the heat, taste and season if necessary and whisk in the butter.
9. Sit down and enjoy your turkey with some lovely gravy.
n Lawrence Murphy’s restaurant is Fat Olives at Emsworth (fatolives.co.uk) on 01243 377914.