THE Christmas dinner is probably the most stressful meal you’ll cook all year – but there are some common mistakes we’ve all been making.
From cooking the turkey whole to leaving the veg until last, celebrity chef John Quilter, the man behind YouTube’s Food Busker, has revealed to Sun Online the slip-ups we often make on Christmas Day…
1. Cooking the turkey whole
John’s motto is “cook once, eat twice”.
The 45-year-old, who films his YouTube vids from a butcher’s in Shepherd’s Bush market, said: “You cook the first meal thinking about the second one (on Boxing Day).
“With a turkey, cut the legs off and confit them – and it means they’re perfect for a whole host of different dishes. Then you’ll get more bang for your buck if you choose to go organic.
“It means the breast cooks faster, and it’s how we cook it in the restaurant.”
2. Keeping the turkey the ‘right way up’
John wants to switch things on their heads, literally.
“You need to keep the breast moist,” he said of the turkey. “You can do this by cooking it upside down.”
Another way to get the perfect baste is to cover the breast in butter, or a lattice of bacon, and cook it the normal way up.
But John added: “When that turkey comes out of the oven, you have to rest it upside down.
“What that means is all the juices bleed through into the breast which sits inside it.
“If you’re going to put butter or bacon on, that gives it the moisture so you don’t need to cook it upside down. But rest it upside down.”
3. Carving at the table
It’s a Christmas tradition, but John says you shouldn’t carve your turkey at the table – and there’s a good reason why.
He recommends resting the meat for at least half an hour, before slicing the breast and putting it in a hot oven for five minutes.
He said: “Now you’ve got sliced turkey, you put it onto a baking tray, you add a ladle of beef stock and then you put that into a really hot oven.
“What the heat in the oven does is it evaporates the beef stock. So you’ve effectively created a steam oven in your regular oven.
“A wet heat is the best way to heat the meat up, and you’ve got a moist turkey meat to serve on the table.
“Often the day after the turkey is too dry. But if it’s sat there in that stock, the turkey’s going to be juicy – which means you can eat your meal the next day.”
4. Yorkshire puddings
Olive oil may be your go-to for cooking, but you shouldn’t use it for the Yorkshires.
John said: “You need to use a high smoking point oil. You can’t use olive oil, it’s got to be vegetable oil or rape seed oil or something like that.
“What I always do is I take my Yorkshire pudding tin, but the oil in and put that in the oven.
“Then when you drop your Yorkshire mixture in, you need to see an immediate bubble and hiss.
“What that does is it forms the base… Another tip is to rest your mixture. I always make it the day before and use it out of the fridge.”
Don’t ever put your oven trays in the sink to soak straight away, or you’re throwing away what John calls ‘chef’s gold’.
He said: “One of the clever ways to build flavour (for gravy) is you use the same baking tin for your roast potatoes, and then you can use it to do honey roasted parsnips and carrots, and then you glaze that pan with some chicken stock and hot water.
“You’ve got all gnarly bits and all pieces left over – and you pour the hot water into the tin, then transfer the tin on top of the stove and turn the gas on.
“What you’re effectively doing is cleaning that tin with the stock, and you scrape it all off, you reduce it down and then you pass that through a sieve.
“You will get the best gravy, I call it chef’s gold. It’s the little bit of gold flavour that exist in pans that often get thrown into the wash up.
“Collect all those little bits from all the different roasting tins, and bring them all together in one place. And what you will have is this really rich gravy.
“I take the knuckles off the turkey and throw that in when I boil it down, so you get that turkey flavour in there.”
6. Brussels sprouts
Don’t even think about cooking your Brussels sprouts in a saucepan.
John said: “People just put them in hot water and then put them on the table and they wonder why people hate them. That’s not the way to do it!
“Blanche them, take them out and then fry them off in a pan with bacon, chestnut and some thyme or other stuff.”
They may cook quickly, but don’t leave your veg to the end.
John said: “The mistake everybody makes is they try to cook 15 elements to all come together at exactly the same time.
“You’re not going to do it. So cook everything 90 per cent and then just bring it back to life.
“The best thing to do is to cook your vegetables until they’re just al dente and then take them out.
“Stuff that you put in the oven is going to retain its heat longer than stuff that you boil. So I boil stuff and then I flash it again.”