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Christmas Lunch Made Easy

In 10 Steps

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From The Royal Crescent Hotel’s Executive Head Chef, David Campbell

“Christmas Lunch fills many of us with dread. There’s just so much to do. And so much pressure to get it right. A lot of things to get to the table at the same time, and everyone pitching in with their two pence worth of opinion, sniping and general ‘I told you so’ comments.

To the uninitiated it can feel like a giant Jigsaw puzzle with bits popping out. And even to experienced home cooks and Chefs Christmas lunch can prove problematic. To help alleviate the stress, I have put together a few pointers to make the big day’s centrepiece earn you some serious Christmas kudos from family, friends and loved ones….

To the uninitiated it can feel like a giant Jigsaw puzzle with bits popping out. And even to experienced home cooks and Chefs Christmas lunch can prove problematic. To help alleviate the stress, I have put together a few pointers to make the big day’s centrepiece earn you some serious Christmas kudos from family, friends and loved ones….

Key Tips before the Cooking starts
1. Tips for the main event – Christmas Day Lunch
2. Prepare well in advance. Sprouts, parsnips, potatoes, stuffing (if you’re making it), carrots and any other vegetables can be prepared one to two days in advance and left to soak in water, don’t leave it all to the day!
3. Rub lots of butter in and under the skin of the turkey. Add thyme, lemon zest, bay leaf and garlic to this, it will flavour and baste the turkey as it cooks. Start with tin foil covering it to trap heat and moisture in, remove for last 45 mins to crisp skin.
4. Ensure the Turkey fits comfortably into your oven at home. Too big and the heat won’t circulate. Even worse, the oven door may not close! If you feel that it’s slightly bigger than ideal, turn the oven up to a higher temperature to compensate. 190 °c should be sufficient to cook an 8/10 lb bird for approximately 2 hrs 20. Ensure your oven is hot well in advance!
5. Allow the turkey to rest after cooking for at least 20 mins. It will let the meat relax, be easier to carve and work with if you’re unlucky enough to have carving duties!
6. Choose your starter carefully. Something simple to plate and with not too many elements to get together will leave more time to socialise and enjoy the day! Smoked salmon with beetroot, horseradish and lemon is ideal.
7. Enlist some help! Let others know in advance and spread the workload. No-one wants a stressed hero at the table. Nominate table setters, washer-uppers and enlist tried and trusted lieutenants for the key tasks in the kitchen! Most importantly, keep calm!
8. Make your Christmas pudding well in advance, September or earlier if possible, as long as it’s stored airtight it will mature and improve in flavour for up to eighteen months. On the day place it in a glass bowl, wrap in a heavy cloth and place in a well watered heavy pan on simmer for at least 1 hour.
9. To serve with your pudding try citrus scented brandy crème fraiche, it’s lighter than Brandy butter, and the crème fraiche works beautifully against the richness of the pudding, Recipe below*
10. To put a twist on mince pies try lining and topping with puff pastry instead of short crust, lighter, fluffier and flakier than the short crust variety.
11. If it all goes to pot, have a large glass of something strong and vow to never do Christmas lunch again!”

Citrus Brandy Crème fraiche
* 250g crème fraiche
* 3g ground cinnamon
* Juice and zest of 1 orange
* Tablespoon or two of good brandy
* 10g castor sugar
* Put all ingredients in a bowl and whisk till firm

Tweet us and tell us some of your hints and tips for surviving the big day!

Journal-HeadChef