One thing's for sure, if you can master the perfect roast potatoes, you're well on your way to the perfect Christmas dinner. This year, with a few extra tricks, I've managed to get them spot on. I've discovered that the humble potato masher is the secret to the perfect roastie, and you lot out there will be able to make these at home no problem. I've done a lot of potatoes, as it's always better to have too many so you've got some leftover.
I reckon gravy has the power to transform, or even save, a meal. What I want you to do this year is open your mind to a slightly radical idea: making it a few days, or even weeks before Christmas. If you do this, you'll have it on standby, so you can finish it on Christmas Day. I use chicken wings to give the gravy that roasted bird flavour base. Not only are they dead cheap, they're also the most flavourful part of the bird.
In my books, the perfect bird is 6.5kg– 8kg in weight because that's a good size to handle, feeds about 10 to 14 people and has better flavour than bigger birds. If you're buying from a small producer, like the lovely turkey I used from my mate Paul Kelly, you'll often find these birds come with their own cooking instructions. Really good-quality birds do cook in a shorter time so follow the instructions if it has them.
It really wouldn't be Christmas without being offered a mince pie, would it? I decided to do a bit of reinventing on the classic mince pie, so in this recipe I'm using a combination of puff and filo pastry, both of which you can buy ready-made in the shops for extra convenience.
Making your own minced pork like I've done here really turns your stuffing into something special. It will give you amazing flavour and texture, and it's wicked to be able to see everything you've got in there. Usually I'd sweat the onions off first, but this year I decided to keep it rough and ready, quick and easy. It's basically bish, bash, bosh but with a bit of love, care and intelligence.
If you're worried about cooking the perfect Christmas turkey because you're afraid you'll get it wrong, don't be. This recipe is nice and simple and will help you achieve brilliant results for your Christmas meal.