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CHRISTMAS COOK SCHOOL

As a one-off this month we’ve put together our tips pages a bit differently… Food editor Rebecca Smith invited four respected cooks and chefs to join her for lunch – a lunch with a mission: to share the best cooking tips and advice for Christmas cooking. The gathering was long, the wine was flowing – and there was heated debate on some of the topics, as you can imagine! We’ve distilled the points into a collection of genuinely useful advice to aid you in your planning and cooking this Christmas and New Year

TIPS FROM OUR GUEST CHEFS

Your Christmas emergencies… solved

THE GRAVY IS TOO THIN

HENRY You don’t have to thicken it with flour. I prefer to make gravy with good reduced stock – I make a giblet stock in advance, add the cooking juices, then make sure I allow enough time for the gravy to simmer and reduce to the right consistency. You can whisk in butter at the end to make it richer if you want. If you do add flour, mix it with the fat in the roasting tin and cook it until pale golden before you add any liquid. It will give your gravy a rich brown colour.

THE POTATOES AREN’T CRISPING

LUCAS Divide them between two tins (buy some disposable foil ones so you’re ready for such emergencies), toss them in a bit more hot oil (don’t add it cold or it will have the opposite effect) and turn up the oven to help the outsides crisp.

NOT ENOUGH SPACE IN THE OVEN

REBECCA Wait until the turkey comes out before you roast the potatoes and other veg. Remember that the bird can be left to rest for up to 2 hours, uncovered – it will keep its heat.

THE TURKEY’S OVERCOOKED

JOHN Leave the turkey to rest breast-down, so the juices have a chance to run back into the meat.

LYNDY Give people more brown meat than white. Even if the breast is overcooked, the legs are likely to be soft and delicious. Make more gravy than you would normally, too, so you can douse the turkey breast with it. It might help to be even more generous with the wine, too!

THERE AREN’T ENOUGH POTATOES

JOHN Have some Yorkshire puddings on standby. Make 24 small ones ahead of time and freeze them. They only take a few minutes to reheat. Everybody loves a Yorkshire pud. They’re cheap, they fill people up and they’re great with gravy.

Stuffing – inside, outside or both?

REBECCA I don’t stuff the turkey. I prefer the certainty of knowing the bird is cooked without having to factor in anything else. If you’re determined to stuff the cavity, make sure it’s not packed too tightly – the air needs to be able to circulate to cook everything efficiently.

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About Delicious Magazine

The Christmas & New year Delicious fulfils all your festive cooking needs. As well as our best-ever big day lunch, there are gifts for foodies, Christmas shortcuts, and three wise men – Hugh F-W, John Torode and Nigel Slater bearing recipes and tips. There are also cocktails and canapés, dramatic desserts, GBBO's Frances Quinn's cake styling and frangipane mince pies. And because there’s still regular cooking to do, we’ve included a Timesaver Meal Planner, too.
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