George PsariasPhoto Credit

My Dad George Psarias, above, is an award winning chef, founder and owner of a group of restaurants, The Olive Tree in Leeds. A dab-hand at Christmas dinner, here he shares his tips to help make your Christmas feast utterly amazing!

Over to Dad, Papa G:

People, especially mums and dads panic when it comes to preparing and cooking for the Christmas Day dinner. Quite rightly you’ll want everything to be perfect on the day but my top tip is to prepare as much as possible in advance or even a couple of days before.

This will take the pressure off you so you will have more time to enjoy the company of your family and friends, and of course the food.

Here are my Top 10 Tips for a lovely Christmas feast:

1. Prepare the vegetables, cranberry sauce, bread sauce and desserts one or two days before the big day.

When warming up the potatoes and vegetables on the day, add a little butter to make them glisten and other small things such as chestnuts, garlic and herbs for enhancing the flavours and presentation.

2. For perfect roast potatoes, par-­boil them (half cook them in boiling water), shake them in a colander to roughen them up and cook with goose fat for extra flavour.

3. Yorkshire puddings-­ forget measurements just remember the 3 important rules: whisk one part (cup or glass) of milk with one part of plain flour (preferably sieved) and one part of eggs with a pinch of salt. Heat your fat until smoking so its really hot before pouring the mixture in.

For better flavour, use beef dripping or meat fat instead of oil.

4. When it comes to boiling green vegetables such as fine beans and mange tout, start with boiling water and bring to a simmer. With potatoes and carrots cook in cold water, using as little water as possible so that all the vitamins and flavours are retained. Do not overcook, they should be al dente as the Italians say i.e. hard to the touch.

5. Drain vegetables in icy cold water to keep their green colour.

6. Sweets – prepare your biscuits, Christmas puddings, brandy sauce and desserts such as traditional trifles at least one or two days in advance. Then all you have to do is serve these with some cream or ice cream if suitable.

7. Cooking the Turkey – Cook the stuffing separately for two reasons.

You have the chance to add seasoning and other ingredients as it cooks and secondly, the most important reason is to cook it thoroughly to avoid food poisoning.

Rub butter all over the turkey and under the skin the day before, put herbs on either half and orange or lemon in the cavity.

If the turkey is frozen, defrost it in the fridge a few days before.

If the turkey is fresh, take it out of the fridge one or two hours before cooking.

Cover the thighs and neck with grease proof paper to avoid burning them during cooking.

Start by firstly cooking at 200°C (Gas mark 6), roasting the bird for 15 minutes then reduce to 180°C (Gas mark 4) until cooked. Allow 20 minutes cooking time per 1lb of the bird plus 20 minutes on the total.

It is best to test whether the turkey is cooked with a skewer by inserting it in the plumpest part near the thighs after cooking. If the juices run clear, it’s cooked.

8. Allow to rest before carving.

9. Set the table with your favourite dinner set and festive decorations and crackers. We like fresh flowers too.

10. Now carve your turkey and enjoy! Have a great meal and a Happy Christmas to all.

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8 Responses

  1. Hannah Mums' Days

    Great tips Papa G!! you can cook my Christmas Dinner any time!

    Man I find Christmas dinner sooooo stressful – so much to think about and so much to go wrong!! I don’t mind if it’s just me and the family but if you add in extended family suddenly I come down with something…maybe that explains my mystery Christmas flu, I’ve had it every year since I met Mike pretty much… I had to go back to bed for a couple of hours on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day!!

    Thanks for linking up to #Thelist darling and for your ongoing support! Happy New Year and see you on the other side!! much love xxxx
    Hannah Mums’ Days recently posted…Blogging Tips – 10 lessons from Daily BloggingMy Profile

    • honestmum

      Oh no hun, hope you’ve recovered. I’ve never made it as Mum loves to and this year we went to the Olive Tree for the first time. Happy New Uear beautiful, see you in 2015, mwah xx

  2. Donna

    Great tips, I always prepare as much as possible the day before x
    Donna recently posted…Recipe: Festive SwirlsMy Profile

  3. Mirka Moore @Fitness4Mamas

    Some amazing tips from your dad. I think the last time I had goose fat was at my na’s years back in the Czech Republic! Next time I am at yours need to taste your potatoes! love the picture above. Cannot wait to see all your Xma pictures #thelist
    Mirka Moore @Fitness4Mamas recently posted…My Top 10 Running EssentialsMy Profile

    • honestmum

      Thanks Mirka, you’ll have to come over and try his. I’ve stopped eating meat so it will be fish for Peter and I this Christmas xx

  4. Jess Paterson

    You had me at Papa G 🙂 Great post, thanks to your LOVELY daddy-o! Luckily I am not hosting this year but shall remember for future. That’s the only reason I have bookmarked this post, honest…;) Have a WONDERFUL Christmas you fab lady, hope 2015 and your new modelling / talent signing brings you a fabulous new year. Lots of love Jess xxx
    Jess Paterson recently posted…The Christmas Quiz for ParentsMy Profile

    • honestmum

      Hahah Jess, knew you’d ‘appreciate’ this post! Aw thanks darling Jess, as long as I keep doing what I love, blogging, I’m happy. Lots of love to you you incredible lady, here’s to a fab 2015 for us both xx


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