If you're in charge of cooking the Christmas dinner this year, don't preheat the oven until you've read our festive recipe guide.
There's something about Christmas dinner that strikes fear in the hearts of novice cooks. Will the meat be done on time? Will the roast potatoes be as good as Nan's? Have we got enough pigs in blankets? The answer to the last one is always no, but there's no reason to get stressed out over Christmas dinner. Think of it as a jumbo Sunday roast with a few extras, and rope in your fellow diners as sous chefs where needed. Or hand them a copy of the Radio Times and a TV remote to keep them occupied while you work your culinary magic.
First things first - starters and canapes
If there's ever a time of year to roll out multiple courses, it's Christmas. Starters and canapes can also act as a buffer if the main event is running a little bit late, and can be made in advance to avoid any extra stress on the day. Our bacon, brie and cranberry canapes can be swiftly assembled to feed a hungry crowd and our beetroot cured salmon canapes require zero cooking!
Get ahead on the veg
The biggest helping hand that you can give yourself when cooking a large meal is to do what you can in advance. Many of the vegetable accompaniments can be prepped ahead of time, giving you extra time on the big day. Our mouth-watering Maple Roast Carrots and Parsnips can be prepped the day before, keeping the uncooked peeled and chopped vegetables under cold water until you're ready to tray them up and roast.
Brussels sprouts can also be trimmed up the day before, removing any shaggy leaves and hardened stalks. We’re about to upset your granny now, but there’s not really any need to cut a cross in the base of your Christmas Brussels sprouts – in fact, doing so could lead to overcooking.
Pigs in blankets will have them squealing for more
Crispy bites of sausage and bacon are non-negotiable for our festive spread, and we've discovered it's virtually impossible to cook too many of them. We like burning our fingers stealing them fresh out of the oven, piling them high on our dinner plate and using them to pad out an epic leftovers sandwich. Our not so secret ingredient is our Pigs in Blanket Dust - find out how we work our magic here.
The roasts with the most
Your roast potatoes will need a blisteringly hot oven to achieve those deliciously crispy edges, so bear this in mind when planning your feast. They can be peeled in advance and stored in cold water until you're ready. If you don't have a legendary family recipe that's been passed down through the generations, why not try ours?
The very veggie version
Before we move on to the meaty main courses in our festive recipe guide, don't forget your vegetarian visitors. Very often they are presented with a disappointing dish dragged from the darkest depths of the freezer while everyone else tucks into a magnificent roast dinner. Don't do that to them.
Turkey remains the top choice for festive roasts in the UK. We recommend buying the best bird that your budget will stretch to - preferably free-range or organic. It seems daft, but make sure it'll fit in both your fridge and your oven!
Brining your turkey brings whole new levels of flavour to your meal, and we can walk you through step by step.