Stuart Hemmings (right) is the Head Chef at Swansea University’s Bay Campus which includes the Great Hall Café Bar and Restaurant. Stuart shares his hints and tips for cooking the perfect stress-free Christmas lunch.
- Plan in advance
The best way to reduce stress and ensure you are the family Masterchef is to plan early. Know what you are having, where you are buying it from, and how much it will cost. And don’t forget to pre-order your turkey!
- Pre-prepare your potatoes and veg
Christmas Day is a time to share with the family – you don’t want to spend all day stressing in the kitchen. Use Christmas Eve to prepare your potatoes and vege-tables – you could even parboil the potatoes so you’ve less to do on the day. (Ed’s note: get the family to do the peeling)
- Plan your timings
If you are going to follow just one tip – make it this one! Write down the time that every element of the meal needs to start/finish cooking to get the whole meal completed at your chosen time.
- Pre-heat your oven
Ovens heat up at different rates and to cook the dinner to perfection you need to be precise – make sure the oven is up to the temperature needed ahead of your start time.
- Keep your turkey succulent
Follow these three fundamental rules: cook your turkey at a lower heat for the first half of its cooking time; baste the turkey with its juices every 20minutes – a pastry brush is good for this; make sure that you rest your turkey for at least 20 minutes before carving – wrap it in foil to keep in the heat.
- Invest in an electronic probe
You do not want to be remembered for poisoning your guests! Electronic probes are surprisingly cheap
and you can use them all year round. Insert it into the centre of the bird when you think it is fully cooked, and check that the temperature is at least 73 degrees. Anything lower than that and bacteria might still be present.
- Experiment with the veg
Fresh vegetables are great but there are many ways you can make them a little bit special – and ensure the kids eat them too. One of my favourites is to drizzle the parsnips with golden syrup. Calories don’t count on Christmas Day…
- Calories don’t count on Christmas Day
Actually that needs repeating. Yes I know that technically and scientifically, there are many calories in a Christmas dinner. But for one day a year let’s say no diets, no watching what you eat, just enjoy life.
- Buy a novelty Christmas apron
Sounds daft – but it really helps you get in the Christmas spirit. Ensure that cooking the Christmas dinner is part of the fun and not a chore that you have to get through. The apron really helps – but also make sure you have your favourite tunes playing – and get a bit of tinsel up in the kitchen (well away from the cooker though).
- Go easy on the wine… at least until dinner is ready
Spare a thought for our emergency services – Christmas Day is one of the busiest days for ambulance and fire crews. Don’t be part of the problem – stay safe and save the wine until the cooking is done. You can always catch-up later…
If you want to enjoy a Christmas meal before the big event, The Great Hall Restaurant at Swansea University is taking bookings for Christmas dinners between 1st-23rd December.
Call 01792 513170 or email email@example.com to book.