14 December 2016
While Christmas can be an opportunity to celebrate with family and friends, for some of us it can be a testing time spent struggling with life commitments and finances. Mark Teed, Food Development Manager at Greene King
shares his top tips for making our festive favourite for those who are - for whatever reason – needing to keep it simple this festive season.
What’s the best way to get prepared for cooking a Christmas dinner?
1) Choose what you are going to cook.
2) Get organised – clear out fridges and freezers. Buy non-perishable food and drink in the weeks leading up to Christmas with your normal weekly shop.
3) With 24 hours to go, trim the sprouts, dry them and store in food bags in the fridge, peel the parsnips and cover in water to stop them going brown, then peel the potatoes and cut into equal size chunks, cover in water.
4) On the day – remove turkey from fridge 1-2hours before cooking as a chilly turkey takes longer to cook.
5) Put some festive music on, pull a cracker and tell a rubbish joke while you get cooking!
How can you keep it simple if this is your first time?
If it’s your first time, then stick to what you know best. If there is a starter or dessert that you are comfortable making and that can be done in advance, then stick with these. Frozen vegetables are as good as fresh and won’t need any preparation.
Is it possible to make a Christmas dinner without it costing a fortune?
Make sure any leftovers are used on Boxing Day. If cost is an issue, then starters are not important as the main course and pudding will be filling enough. Chicken instead of turkey saves money and reduces stress. Turkey curry is a favourite up and down the land in the days after Christmas and you can make a simple bread sauce by cutting the crusts off the bread you would use daily.
How can you ensure everything will be finished at the same time?
Work backwards from the time the turkey will be ready to serve. Whilst the turkey is resting the carrots and sprouts can be cooked and the gravy can be made.
What’s a simple way of making veg tasty and keeping it interesting?
- Add a couple of cloves of star anise in the water for the carrots.
- Add chestnuts and bacon to the sprouts (you can buy vac packed chestnuts).
- Drizzle honey on the parsnips whilst roasting. I prefer maple syrup but it can be costly!
How long do roast potatoes need in the oven?
- Par boil the potatoes that were peeled last night (in fresh water) for 10 minutes.
- Drain them and shake the pan to fluff up the edges so they are crispy when roasted.
- Carefully place in a roasting tray with hot oil and roast for an hour and a half until they are crisp and golden.
What should you serve a vegetarian?
As long as potatoes are roasted in vegetable oil then there is nothing stopping a vegetarian from sharing both them and the vegetables. Choose a supermarket centre plate item but keep it separate from the turkey; parcels, nut roast and roulades all work well. If you’re using the turkey juices to make your gravy then a separate veggie gravy will be needed.
Is it vital to do all the trimmings? (Pigs in blankets, stuffing etc?)
It’s not vital but a “nice to have”. It is the most important meal of the year so having the trimmings makes it that little more special! You can buy these readymade and heat in the oven if you re short of time, space or money!
What’s the best way to cook sprouts?
8-10 minutes in seasoned boiling water. Simple!
What do people often get wrong when preparing their Christmas dinner?
Don’t leave it to the last minute. You don’t want to be trawling the supermarket on Christmas Eve looking for a turkey. Don’t forget to remove the giblets if they are in the cavity because they are normally in a plastic bag and will melt. Overcooking the turkey is another one - make sure the turkey is basted every half an hour during cooking and make sure the bird is rested for 20-30 minutes before carving. Don’t forget to keep the dog away!
Greene King is working in partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support, raising vital funds to help ensure that no one faces cancer alone this Christmas. So far the partnership has raised over £2.6 million for people affected by cancer.
For more information, please contact:
Laura Williams – Assistant Media & PR Officer, Macmillan Cancer Support
020 7840 3583 (out of hours 07801 307068) / LaWilliams@macmillan.org.uk
NOTES TO EDITORS
About Greene King
- Greene King was founded in 1799 and is headquartered in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. It currently employs 44,000 people across its main trading businesses; Pub Company, Pub Partners and Brewing & Brands.
- It operates 3,000 pubs, restaurants and hotels across England, Wales and Scotland, of which c.
1,800 are retail pubs, restaurants and hotels, and 1,200 are tenanted, leased and franchised pubs. Its leading retail brands include Hungry Horse, Farmhouse Inns, Chef & Brewer, Flaming Grill and the Greene King Local Pubs estate.
- Greene King also brews quality ale brands from its Bury St. Edmunds and Dunbar breweries, and is the UK’s leading cask ale brewer and premium ale brewer with brands such as Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale and Belhaven Best.
About Macmillan Cancer Support
When you have cancer, you don’t just worry about what will happen to your body, you worry about what will happen to your life. Whether it’s concerns about who you can talk to, planning for the extra costs or what to do about work, at Macmillan we understand how a cancer diagnosis can take over everything.
That’s why we’re here. We provide support that helps people take back control of their lives. But right now, we can’t reach everyone who needs us. We need your help to make sure that people affected by cancer get the support they need to face the toughest fight of their life. No one should face cancer alone, and with your support no one will.
To get involved, call 0300 1000 200 today. And please remember, we’re here for you too. If you’d like support, information or just to chat, call us free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk