James Parsons’ Top Ten Tips For Christmas Dinner

The turkey dinner is the main event on Christmas Day, but so many people end up in a flap about getting it just right.

James Parsons, former chef to The Royal Household and newly appointed executive chef at The Langstone Hotel  on HaylingIsland, near Portsmouth, shares his top tips for the perfect Christmas dinner.

  1. Even after over 25 years of cooking, one thing remains top priority – preparation. Plan ahead and know exactly what you’re doing in advance of the big day, and things will go a lot smoother.
  2. Keep it tidy – a clear workspace equals a clear mind. It’s easy to create chaos in a kitchen, particularly if you’ve limited space, so decide which dishes you will be using for which items to avoid last minute shortages and oven rearrangements.
  3. Variety is key to Christmas dinner, as tradition can easily become predictable. Remember, by Christmas Day, most people have already had around four turkey dinners already, so why not try duck or goose? Alternatively, try a sauce rather than gravy or swapping the usual roasts for parmentier potatoes.
  4. Stuff the bird and not the oven! Cook the bird and then let it rest while you roast your potatoes etc in the oven. A large turkey will rest for at least an hour and keep a good temperature. Just make sure the core temperature stays above 75°c.
  5. Cover the breast of the bird with bacon. This prevents the meat from drying out or burning too easily and gives you a tasty portion of crispy bacon to serve on the side.
  6. If you’re doing turkey, take off the legs – they take twice as long to cook as the breast and, by doing them separately, the bird will fit better in the oven.
  7. Don’t scrimp on the spuds. For the perfect roast potatoes, invest in a good quality variety like Maris Piper and part boil them for a superbly crispy shell and soft, fluffy centre.
  8. Consider making things like stuffing balls and pigs in blankets a few days before and freezing them. This is a great way of getting fiddly, time consuming tasks out of the way without compromising on the end result.
  9. If you’re using red wine in a sauce, add it at the last minute and bring to the boil for a richer flavour.
  10. Whatever you do, keep it simple. While we all look forward to this extra special meal, Christmas isn’t about slaving away in the kitchen, it’s about spending quality time with the family.

Langstone Hotel

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