How to Cook the Perfect Christmas Dinner

 Even for experienced cooks, preparing the annual Christmas dinner can be challenging. If you are hosting the festive family dinner this year and want to impress your guests, here’s our guide to cooking the perfect Christmas dinner – from the turkey to the trimmings, we’ve got you covered.

Tips for cooking a succulent turkey

For many of us, cooking the turkey is the most stressful part of the Christmas dinner.  If it’s overcooked, then the meat will be dry and chewy. Worst still, if the bird is not roasted through properly then the whole dinner could be ruined.

Before you even switch the cooker on, the first step is to calculate how long the bird will need in the oven – and to get that right, you need to know how much your turkey weighs:

  • Turkeys over 4kg (approximately 9lb) should be roasted for 20 minutes per kilo – and then an additional 90 minutes
  • Turkeys under 4kg should be roasted for 20 minutes per kilo – plus 70 minutes to finish

Once you’ve worked out the correct roasting time, preheat the oven to 190c (170c for a fan oven) or gas mark 4.

Place the bird in a large roasting tin and if you are using stuffing, now is the time to add it to the cavity – try this seasonal sausage, sage and onion recipe – before rubbing butter over its skin and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

Covering the turkey with foil will help to keep the meat moist and tender, make sure the foil is sealed around the edges of the roasting tray and then place the bird into the oven for the calculated cooking time.

Every hour, baste the turkey with the buttery juices to stop it from drying out and remove the foil for the final thirty minutes of cooking to allow the skin to turn golden and crispy. Once the cooking time is up, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh and check the juices are running clear. If they are still pink, put it back in the oven for twenty-minute and then check again.

Once thoroughly cooked, allow the bird to rest for at least half an hour – don’t be tempted to carve and serve straight from the oven –  as the meat needs to relax to get that melt in the mouth texture.

Serve the fluffiest roast potatoes

Serving show-stopping roast potatoes is easy with these top tips – just ensure that you cook plenty as we guarantee that everyone at the table will want ‘seconds’.

Choosing the right potatoes can make or break how fluffy your roasties are. King Edwards, Maris Piper or Desiree varieties are the best varieties for the perfect crispy roast spuds.

Peel your potatoes and cut them into quarters before placing them in a pan of cold salted water and bringing to the boil over a high heat. Once the water is boiling, turn the heat down and simmer for fifteen minutes – the potatoes should be firm and just cooked through. While the potatoes are boiling, heat the oven to 220c (200c for a fan oven) or gas mark 7 and heat oil in roasting tin until the fat bubbles.

Drain the par-boiled potatoes using a colander and leave them to dry out for five minutes before tipping them into the hot oil, taking care not to get splashed by the fat. Sprinkle with salt and then place in the oven for forty minutes, turning them halfway through the cooking time.

Once crispy and brown remove from the roasting tin and drain any excess oil on kitchen paper before serving piping hot to your guests.

Top Tip: For extra crispy roasties, rough up the surface of the par-boiled potatoes before roasting. This allows the oil to get right into the surface for a delightful crunch.

The best gravy you’ve ever tasted

We don’t make that claim lightly – good gravy is crucial for tying your Christmas dinner together and it needs to be rich and delicious.

While your turkey is resting, it’s time to make use of all the pan drippings and scrapings from the bottom of the roasting pan to capture all that savoury goodness.  The beauty of this gravy is that it is very simple to make, so after slaving over the rest of the dinner, the gravy will only take a few minutes to whip up.

Set the turkey pan on the hob over a medium heat and pour in 500ml of turkey stock to deglaze the pan and scrape up all the bits from the bottom. Next, whisk in some cornflour to thicken the stock and add salt and pepper to taste.

If you prefer a thicker gravy, let the pan simmer and reduce the liquid, for a thinner gravy, add more stock before serving.  Gravy perfection in a flash!

Don’t forget the trimmings…

Pigs in blankets are our favourite festive side dish – and this recipe adds a twist to the traditional sausage, by using black pudding filled dates wrapped in bacon instead. If you prefer a classic pig in a blanket Ocado’s pack of twelve are the best we’ve found – and no one will complain that you’ve not made them yourself as they are so delicious!

Accompany the meal with honey glazed carrots and perfectly roasted parsnips – sprinkled with a pinch of chilli flakes for an added kick – and there you have it! Everything you need for the perfect Christmas dinner.

Well, almost everything you need for the perfect Christmas dinner…

…We feel must give an honorary mention to the humble brussel sprout. Love ‘em or hate ‘em they are a staple of the traditional Christmas dinner. We want to make sure everyone eats their greens this Christmas – and these charred and sauteed sprouts served with nuts and a sprinkling of cheese will have the whole family converted into brussel sprout fans.