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Aspinal’s Guide to the Perfect Christmas Dinner

With advent calendars cracked open and the trees and decorations up, thoughts are turning to the main event: Christmas dinner. The perfect Christmas dinner is all in the planning, so let us take the stress out of cooking with our failsafe guide.

The Turkey and Gravy

Turkey has gained somewhat of a bad reputation for being dry and bland. Nevertheless, we like to persevere with the tradition each year, so what is the secret to a perfect turkey? Once the turkey is at room temperature, add stuffing to the neck only. If you stuff the full bird, you might just be waiting for Boxing Day for it to cook! Next, weigh your turkey before coating it in butter and covering it in foil. As a rule of thumb, allow 20 minutes per lb cooking time and after a few hours you will have a delicious, moist turkey to dig into. Remember to use all of the delectable juices left in the tray as the base for your gravy.

Perfect Potatoes and Parsnips

No Christmas dinner is complete without a suitably huge pile of potatoes and parsnips to go with it. Start with your potatoes. As the oven preheats, parboil your potatoes for four to six minutes. Drain and give them a vigorous shake around the colander to rough up the edges. Now here is the key: pop two tablespoons of goose fat into the roasting tin and fry the potatoes over the hob for a couple of minutes. Baste and then put them in the oven for 30 minutes.

As your potatoes start to roast, peel and cut your parsnips. Toss them with honey, rosemary and a drop of oil, then pour into a tray. Place them next to your potatoes and cook for 20 minutes, turning half way.

The Family Favourite

Everyone's favourite, pigs in blankets are incredibly easy to make and take less than 30 minutes. Just wrap your sausages, secure with a cocktail stick and pop them in the oven until golden brown. They also make fantastic snacks, so think ahead and make an extra batch to go with those Boxing Day leftovers.

Sprouts with a Twist

Brussels sprouts are much maligned but, with a simple twist, they will become a festive favourite. Firstly, there is no need to cross your sprouts as this only makes them soggy. Skip this step and pop them into salted, boiling water for three minutes. Drain and tip into a bowl of ice water. Next, fry chopped pancetta for four to five minutes until crispy. Add the sprouts and fry for a further few minutes with a knob of butter and a sprinkling of salt. Delicious.

The Sauces

Cooking a Christmas dinner is a hectic affair, so save yourself some stress and prepare your bread and cranberry sauce a few days before. Remember, bread sauce thickens as it heats, so make it a little on the thin side for the perfect consistency on the day.

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