10 steps to a successful Christmas

Facts, recipes, hints and products to make this years Christmas a success

Aga Roast Turkey

1. The Turkey / Chicken / Nut roast

Since medieval times a Roast dinner has been at the heart of Christmas with Henry VIII making the switch from goose to our beloved Turkey. Today over 70% of us in UK households choose Turkey for our festive meal.

Timing – When you are roasting Turkey or Chicken timing is key and a good rule of thumb to work by is 13 minutes per pound, so for a 16 pound Turkey you would cook it for 3 1/2 hours.

Preparation – Another important factor is preparation and a good tip is to remove your Chicken / Turkey from the fridge 1 – 2 hours before cooking as this will bring the bird up to room temperature and reduce your cooking time.

Tools – The right tools can help you to achieve a successful Christmas dinner and a good set of roasting tins is essential to give you space for your Turkey, Chicken or Vegetarian roast as well as those lovely Roast potatoes, parsnips and roast veg. At Spillers Cookshop we have an Aga Trio Set which includes half size baking tray, deep baking tray and roasting tin for £90.00.

Gordon Ramsey’s – Roast Turkey recipe
Jamie Oliver’s – Roast Chicken with Mushroom stuffing recipe
Mary Berry’s – Perfect nut roast recipe

2. Perfect Roast Potatoes

The humble potato not only adds a crispy accompaniment to your Christmas Dinner, potatoes have blood pressure-lowering compounds called kukoamines and Vitamin B6 which is necessary for neurological function.

With over a hundred different varieties of edible potato available it is a job to know which will herald the fluffiest, crispiest roasty. It’s also contested by a host of celebrity chefs with Desiree, King Edwards and Maris Piper the favourites. Whichever variety you choose the key is to par-boil them first until they are just breaking apart – once drained add to your baking pan with your choice of fat – Goose fat has become popular in recent years.

The Guardian – The golden rules for a perfect roast potato
Jamie Oliver’s – Roast potato recipe

Roast Potatoes


3. Vegetables

It’s a very personal thing choosing the right combination of vegetables and side dishes to accompany your Christmas roast as is
how you cook them. Traditional favourites include :-

Braised Red Cabbage with Apple – with the cabbage packing lots of antioxidants and fibre and the Apple high in vitamin C
this dish not only tastes great but packs a nutritional kick.
Delia Smith’s – Traditional Braised Red Cabbage with Apples

Brussel Sprouts – Research has found that hating Brussel Sprouts is genetic and that 50% of the world’s population has this gene
which detects a chemical in the Sprout and makes them taste bitter. Love them or hate them Brussels are synonymous
with Christmas.
Nigella’s – Brussel sprouts with Chesnuts Pancetta and Parsley

Carrots – Originally White or Purple were bred by the Dutch to be Orange the traditional colour of the royal house of the Netherlands.
At Christmas time it is traditional to sweet glaze the carrots either with a mixture of Orange Juice and sugar or honey.
Jamie Oliver’s – Sweet Glazed Carrots

4. Gravy and Stuffing

Christmas dinner would not be the same without gravy and stuffing both an integral part of the meal. Stuffing dates back to at least
Roman times, this being the earliest documented mention which was found in a Roman Cookbook (Apicius) containing recipes for stuffed Chicken, Doormouse, Hare and Pig.
Take a look at the video to the right for Gordon Ramsey’s most amazing gravy recipe.

Nigella’s – Best Turkey Stuffing
Vegetarian Stuffing – Sage and Onion Stuffing

5. Bread / Cranberry Sauce

Two classic sauces that go hand in hand with Christmas:-

Bread sauce can be traced back to at least medieval times when cooks used bread as a thickening agent for sauces
utilising left over stale bread. Traditionally made with bread, milk, butter, onion and cloves.
Bread Sauce recipe – See Video by Gill Meller of River Cottage.

Cranberry Sauce – Cranberries (native to North America) were introduced to Pilgrim settlers by Native Americans and used in
the Thanksgiving feast cementing the relationship between Cranberries and Turkey.
Delia Smith’s – Cranberry and Orange Relish

6. Christmas Pudding

It’s thanks to King George I that our modern Christmas pudding is eaten during the festive period and features no meat. Previously it had beef and mutton as a filling and before this partridge, pheasant and rabbit. These meat puddings were known as mince pies. In Victorian times it was known as Plum Pudding although it has never contained any Plums. it got this name due to the fact that the Victorians called Raisins, Plums.

Nigella’s – Ultimate Christmas Pudding

Christmas Pudding

Mince Pies

7. Mince Pies

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without mince pies, this fruit based sweet pie is traceable back to the 13th Century when returning
European crusaders brought with them middle eastern recipes containing meats, fruits and spices. This pie is steeped in tradition and superstition, it is thought you should only stir the mince meat mix clockwise and when eating your first mince pie of the year you should make a wish
Jamie’s – Mince Pies
Gluten Free – Mince Pies

8. Mulled Wine / Cider

There is nothing like a glass of mulled wine / cider by the fire at Christmas and it is something enjoyed all over the world in fact the
Scandanavian alternative (Glogg) is also laced with Vodka making it even more potent.
See video for recipe.

9. Christmas Ham

Christmas Ham or Yule Ham is a traditional dish that is suggested to have begun among Germanic peoples as a tribute to god of the harvest. It is also perfect to eat as part of a boxing day buffet or even on Christmas eve and will keep in the fridge for up to a week. In recent times alot of chef’s have begun to try new flavours and ways of cooking the Christmas ham see a selection below.

How to cook the perfect Christmas Ham
Nigella’s – Ham in Cola
Jamie’s – Jamie’s Jerk Ham

10. The right tools

As important as the right recipe and produce are the right collection of utensils, cookware and bake ware to get the job done. At Spillers we have a dedicated Cookshop which sells all manner of pots, pans, utensils, Aga cookware, saucepans, knives and more. Some of the stand out products that would be extremely useful this Christmas are the following:-

Aga Trio Set (half size baking tray, deep baking tray and Roasting tin) – Perfect for Roasting Meat, potatoes and Roasted Vegetables at the same time
Aga Traditional Trivet – Will protect all worktops including Granite to prevent dull patches
Aga Saute Pan – A Fabulous Non Stick Pan with a removable handle. Perfect to start meals on the hot plate and then transfer to the oven.
Fissler High Pan – Perfect for bread or cranberry sauces,
Gravy, or vegetables
Fissler Meat Fork – Perfect for holding the roast turkey / chicken / nut roast whilst you carve.

Aga Game Pie Tin
Spillers of Chard Limited, the UK's premier kitchen destination

Article by: Spillers of Chard
Published: 17 December 2014

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