Chef Patron of the Devonshire Arms, Alan Hill is here to share with us his top tips for the perfect Christmas Dinner; so get your pots, pans and roasting tins at the ready.
1- Crispy Stuffing Balls
I like to use onions, sage and fresh breadcrumbs for stuffing; the best thing to do to bring it together is with some of Chatsworth Farmshop Sausage meat- probably about 4 Sausages worth. Roll this into balls and cook at 200 degrees for about 20 minutes until crispy.
2-The Perfect Spuds
For some people potatoes are the main event at the Christmas meal. In order to guarantee a crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside type of roastie this year, follow these steps:
Bring to the boil and once half cooked drain and leave to steam dry. After ruffling them about drop into a roasting tray with plenty of goose fat or oil, season and turn every 15 mins whilst in the oven until crispy and brown!
Pre -boiling your parsnips can be a real time saver, and they keep fine in the fridge for up 24 hours before the big day. To finish them off sprinkle lightly with semolina and cook in goose fat in a hot oven until golden.
4- Pigs in blankets
Pigs in blankets can be another Christmas dinner deal breaker. One trick to getting these looking neat and less like a tangled mess is to put horseradish sauce on cooked bangers and then wrap the bacon around them. They will look very professional and be gone within seconds.
5-Cheaters Cranberry Sauce
A cheeky trick to impress people on Christmas is to cheat with your cranberry sauce. Buy a jar, add some orange zest and port/brandy, pop into a fancy little bowl and it’ll taste fresh and delicious and fool everyone.
6-Spruced Up Sprouts
Sprouts can often divide dinner guests BUT you can convert the sprout haters by sprucing them up. Add poppy seeds and bits of bacon, and roast with the other veg. Not even little kiddies will be able to resist.
To get the best, we use Derbyshire Bronze Turkey for flavour and for succulence. To emphasise these elements even more, put a mixture of finely chopped lemon, lots of rosemary thyme and salt in the cavity.
You can also cook your turkey upside down. This way the breasts will soak up all of the juices and stay lovely and moist. Pop it right way up for the last half an hour and it’ll go a lovely golden brown.
Braised red cabbage is one of those foods that actually improves it’s flavour over time, so it’s well worth making in advance. Add some cinnamon, grated apple and a couple of spoons of redcurrant jelly to make it a tasty addition. This also keeps for a few days in the fridge.
Add a onion cloute (which is an onion, studded with cloves that hold a bay leaf) to your milk for better flavoured bread sauce. Be sure to remove when adding the crumb and butter- blend to keep a silky consistency.
10. Boozey pud
Christmas pudding, of course, can be made months ahead, but the trick is in the sauce! I like to make a sweet bechamel (roux based) sauce, add lashings of rum, followed by a big spoon of brandy butter (4oz butter, 4oz ground almonds, 4oz icing sugar lots of brandy “Hic” )!
We hope that these tips make your Christmas dinner even more special- Merry Christmas, everyone!