How to cook Christmas dinner

Alfie's chef Christopher Driver's foolproof festive lunch

Christopher Driver
Christopher Driver
Before December 25

Christmas pudding
Christopher’s tip: ‘Start marinating the fruit for your Christmas pudding three days in advance. The longer you leave the fruit to marinate for, the better the flavour of the final pudding. Make the rest of the pudding the night before.’

20g dried prunes
200g black raisins
100g sultanas
100g dried mixed fruit
40g apple, shredded
200ml orange juice
100g suet (raw beef fat)
50g breadcrumbs
35g ginger confit
45g brown sugar
40g cake flour
2 eggs
1 orange, juiced
1 lemon, juiced
1g salt
1g mixed spice
40ml milk
15g ground almonds

1 Place the orange juice and fruit in a bowl.

2 Leave to marinate for three days.

3 Mix the suet, brown sugar, breadcrumbs, ginger confit and cake flour.

4 Then add the eggs, fresh orange and lemon juice, salt, mixed spices and milk.

5 Add the dried fruit mixture that has been marinating.

6 Mix together thoroughly.

7 Place in a pudding mould and store overnight until ready to cook (see the boxout opposite for cooking times).

Turkey stuffing
Christopher’s tip: ‘Start work on the stuffing on Christmas Eve, so you’re ready to stuff the turkey early on Christmas morning.’

500g veal mince
4 eggs
100g breadcrumbs
50g tarragon
50g chervil
50g parsley
75g onion
8g garlic
300g chestnuts
100g giblets (offal from the turkey)
Salt and pepper to taste

1 Place the onions, garlic and chestnuts in a pan and ‘sweat’ them (cook them slowly) until soft.

2 Remove from heat and add the mince, eggs and giblets.

3 Add the breadcrumbs to bind the mixture together, then add the herbs.

4 Season with salt and pepper. The mixture can then be kept in the fridge overnight, or until needed.

On December 25

Roast turkey
Christopher’s tip: ‘Once you’ve put the turkey in the oven, keep basting it with its own juices every 20 minutes: use a spoon to pour juice from the pan over the meat. This will keep the turkey moist.’

4.5kg whole turkey
200g streaky veal bacon
250g butter
100g fresh rosemary
100g fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste

1 Preheat the oven to 175°C. Soften the butter and mix in the seasoning and fresh herbs.

2 Then use this butter mixture to stuff the gap between the breast and the skin, being very careful not to break the skin.

3 Place the stuffing into the cavity of the bird until tight and compact.

4 Finally, tie the bird’s legs together, and place the veal bacon neatly over the breast of the bird, making sure you cover the entire breast.

5 Place the turkey in the oven – see the green box below for suggested cooking times.

Roast potatoes

Christopher’s tip: ‘It’s best to use duck fat, as the flavour of the potatoes will be more intense.’
500g potatoes
100ml duck fat (or corn oil)
50g rosemary
1 clove garlic
Salt to taste

1 Peel the potatoes and cut to size (this can be done the night before).

2 Place the oil in a roasting pan and preheat in a hot oven (220°C).

3 Boil the potatoes in salted water until almost cooked, but still firm.

4 Strain the water, then place a lid on the pan and gently toss to roughen the edges of the potatoes. This will give a crispier finish.

5 Remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully add the potatoes. Toss each one in the hot oil until well coated.

6 Place in the oven for 10 minutes, then add the cut garlic clove and rosemary and return to the oven. Check every 10 minutes and turn if possible. The potatoes are ready when they’re crispy and golden.

Cranberry sauce
Christopher’s tip: ‘This traditional sauce is best served at room temperature, so prepare it a few hours in advance and leave to cool.’

100g cranberries (frozen cranberries work well)
30g onion
125ml cranberry juice
60g fresh oranges (zest and juice)
450ml chicken stock
80g sugar

1 Place all ingredients in a bowl and marinate overnight in the fridge.

2 Place in a pan and bring to the boil, then simmer gently.

3 Continue to cook the mixture until it has a jam-like consistency.

4 Remove the orange zest and leave the sauce to cool, then serve.

Christopher’s Christmas cooking timetable

December 22
Marinate the fruit for your Christmas pudding.

December 24
Make the pudding and the stuffing, and marinate the cranberry sauce. Peel and chop the potatoes to save time on Christmas Day.

December 25

9am Preheat the oven to 175°C for the turkey. If you’re cooking a 4.5kg turkey, place it in the oven as soon as the oven is at the right temperature and you should have a perfectly cooked bird at approximately 1pm. Note that you’ll need to adjust the cooking times for different sizes and weights.

10.30am Boil the potatoes and set aside.

11am Prepare the cranberry sauce.

11.30am Put the parboiled potatoes in the oven.

11.45am Put the Christmas pudding into a pan of water, ensuring the water comes just below the top of the mould. Heat gently for about 45 minutes.

1pm Lunch time! Your food should be ready to serve. The Christmas pudding can be eaten any time as it will be kept warm in the pan of water.

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