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Countdown to Christmas (Part 4) The Full Christmas Dinner

Well with only a week to go we need to start thinking about dinner for the big day. This is for 6-8 people with some leftovers for turkey sandwiches and bubble and squeak for the days that follow. I wish you all that is wonderful this Christmas and The New Year. With love Jo x

*Top Tips 
1. Peel and prepare all the veggies the night before.
2. Buy one of those big plastic lidded boxes to store the overflow of fruits and veggies outside.
3. Lay the table/s the night before.
4. Don't try to do to many dishes, stick to 3 side veggies. 
5. Take any help thats offered!
7. Use a timer (without them i'm always distracted and forget things are in the oven)
Photo taken from my Article in The Mirror 
Roast Turkey
I know that lots of people have fallen out of love with turkey but this is definitely not the case for me. The problem I think is that people are often so terrified of under cooking the bird that they tend to over cook making it dry and like eating sawdust! The other problem is under-resting, give that gorgeous bird at least an hour to sit and plump, letting the juices evenly distribute themselves before carving. Finally, remember to baste, baste and baste again, it really will make all the difference.

5.5kg turkey 
bay leaves
2 stems sage leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1 orange
2 stems of thyme 
200g softened salted butter
1/2 bottle of white wine 
1 pack of diced swede & carrots
250g unsalted butter placed in a small pan and melted to baste the bird. 

Preheat the oven to 200C

Tie the thyme, bay, cinnamon and sage leaves together. Stuff into the cavity of the turkey along with the orange and 50g of the salted butter. Scatter the swede and carrots into your roasting tin with some rosemary and thyme. Gently loosen the skin on the breast away from the flesh of the turkey and ease the softened butter under the skin. Place the turkey into the roasting dish and add the wine, now cover with a foil tent giving plenty of space around the turkey, roast in a preheated oven for about 3 - 31/2 hours basting every 30 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 40 minutes. Pierce the thigh with a skewer, if the juices run clear the turkey is cooked but if they run pink pop back into the oven for another 15-30 mins and repeat. Remove the orange and herbs from the cavity and cover the bird with foil and a large towel and leave to rest for at least an hour, up to three before serving.
Cranberry sauce
Like a bowl full of red glistening jewels, to me cranberry sauce is the epitome of a Christmas side dish. It just screams festivity and with an added glug of port you’ll have a wonderful cosy feeling as an extra bonus.

1 large cooking apple peeled and diced (tiny)
1 punnet of cranberries
zest and juice of 2 Clementines
1 large cup of sugar (caster or granulated)
Splash of water

Bring ingredients to the boil, reduce heat until all of the cranberries have popped and the liquid has reduced down, cool (add a glug of port if you'd like) transfer into sterilised jars.
Yorkshire puddings
I know not traditional but my lot would be in uproar if the humble Yorkshire Pud wasn’t on their plates with our Christmas lunch. These are such a winner. The chestnuts and shallots give a festive feeling and if you don’t want to add brandy just leave it out. 

1 cup of plain flour
1 cup of milk 
1 cup of eggs
pinch of salt 
6 cooked shelled and finely chopped chestnuts
2 finely diced shallots 
1 tbsp of brandy
1 stem of thyme
Non-virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 210

Whisk together the flour, milk, eggs and salt until frothy. Leave to rest for at least half an hour. Next add oil into a 12 hole muffin pan, place into the oven until smoking hot, then add the batter. 

Cook for 22-26 mins until well risen and golden brown. While waiting for the Yorkshires to bake, cook the shallots in a frying pan with a little oil until softened and translucent. Add the chestnuts and thyme leaves, cook over a medium heat for a couple more minutes before adding a little brandy, cook for 5 more minutes. 
To serve, add a tsp of the chestnuts into each pudding. 

Pigs in blankets
Rosemary and pork make for such a wonderful partnership but if you have fussy eaters leave the rosemary stems out of their little piggies. 

12 good quality Chipolata sausages
12 rashers of pancetta
12 stems of rosemary

Remove the leaves from the bottom half of the 12 stems of rosemary and cut the bottom of each stem to a point. Wrap one end of the sausage with the pancetta, pierce with the pointed end of the rosemary to hold in place. Now hold the rosemary next to the sausage and wrap the pancetta around it. Place joint side down on a lined baking sheet and roast in a hot oven for about 18-22 minutes. 

Bread sauce
My bread sauce maybe a touch extravagant with all that cream, but hey if you can’t push the (bread sauce) boat out at Christmas time, when can you? 

1 day-old small loaf unsliced white bread
500ml full-fat milk
200ml single cream
1 onion, peeled and quartered
4 cloves
3 fresh bay leaves
1 tsp peppercorns (i use pink)
pinch salt
30g butter
1/2 fresh nutmeg, for grating

Heat the cream and milk with the peppercorns, bay, cloves and onion, simmer for 10minutes. Then remove from the heat and cover, leave to infuse for at least an hour (I do this the night before and once cooled place in the fridge). Half an hour before you’re ready to serve strain the infused milk and pour back into the pan and slowly heat. Cut the crusts from the bread and cut into cubes, add to the liquid, stirring until the bread breaks down, stir in the butter and grate over the nutmeg to serve. 
Roast potatoes and parsnips
I always bake my potatoes and parsnips together on Christmas day. I find it not only saves time but also saves hob and oven space. 

3kg of King Edward potatoes
1 kg parsnips
4 peeled and quartered onions
1 jar of goose fat
Knob of Butter
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven 210

Peel and quarter the potatoes and parsnips, place into a large pan and cover with water, drain the cover again. Add a pinch of salt and 2 onions, cover and bring to the boil on a high heat, turn down to a medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, drain and vigorously shake until the potatoes have a fluffy surface. Heat the goose and butter fat in 2 roasting trays in a preheated oven until very hot, now carefully add the potatoes, parsnips and onions. Roast for about 45-60 minutes until crisp and golden. 

Vichy Carrots
Gorgeous glossy carrots will wow anybody sitting at your Christmas table as they really are a thing of beauty.

750g carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally 
Zest and juice of an orange
2 Tbsp of caster sugar
100g butter
pinch of salt 
pinch of black pepper
1 tsp of fresh thyme leaves

Put the carrots in a saucepan with the orange juice and enough water to cover them half way. Add the sugar, butter, zest and salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then cook briskly for about 30 minutes until all that is left of the liquid is a thick buttery coating. Give them a little shake and scatter with the thyme leaves. 

Shredded brussels sprouts
Until I found out about shredding brussels they were a thing of dread for me; boiled bullets of yuckiness only to be placed on the Christmas table out of tradition.  But now I can truly eat them for pleasure and not just obligation.

750g of prepared sprouts
2 cloves of garlic
50g butter
2 tsp olive oil
1 shallot chopped very finely
50g cubed pancetta

Add the oil and butter in a large sautéing pan and heat over a medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for a couple of minutes before grating in the garlic and shallots and fry gently. Shred the brussels in a food processor or slice with a knife, add to the pan along with 2 tbsp of water or chicken stock stirring the whole time, cook for about 2-4 minutes until tender.
Italian inspired stuffing

1 half loaf Ciabatta
Olive oil
1 small rosemary focaccia
6 fresh sage leaves
1 large red onion peeled and diced
1 egg yolk
handful of fresh cranberries

Preheat the oven 200

Start by chopping the Focaccia into small cubes, place on a baking sheet and bake in a hot oven until just starting to turn golden (this can be done a few hours before you need them). Now Blitz the ciabatta and sage leaves in a food processor until the loaf turns into breadcrumbs and the sage is finely chopped. Add the oil to a sautéing pan over a medium high heat, add the onions, fry gently until softened, add the bread crumbs and cranberries, cook for a couple of minutes. Take off of the heat and add the Focaccia croutons and the egg yolk, stir to combine and spoon into a buttered ovenproof dish, bake in a hot oven for about 10 minutes. 

The Gravy
The gravy is such an important part of the meal, this is the reason for the wine, herbs and cubed veggies under the turkey. 

3 Oxo cubes 
1 tbsp plain flour
2 cups Chicken/veg stock

Crumble the oxo cubes into the turkey roasting pan oven the veggies and herbs. Next add tbsp of plain flour, cook over a low heat for a minute. Now whisk while adding the stock, pour into a liquidiser or a jug and blend with a hand held whizzer. Pour through a sieve into a pan, bring back up the heat before serving.

For My Quick Christmas pudding Click here

For My Christmas Bread and Butter pud Click here 

For My Mincemeat Frangipane Click here