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A busy cook’s guide to hosting the easiest Christmas dinner ever!

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Christmas turkey

The biggest dinner of the year is about to be created at homes all over the world and with so many elements to consider it is easy to forget something or lose track of timings. I am a bit stuck in my ways when it comes to Christmas dinner preparation – I play it safe and make what I know, so before it will be my turn to host again, I wanted to get some tips from an expert! I asked Executive Chef Adam Gray from B&H Kitchen (Bourne & Hollingsworth Group) in London a few questions to make Christmas dinner prep easy.

Christmas turkey

Chef Adam, What can be prepped in advance to take pressure off the actual day?
“I would prep as many of the vegetables as possible and then store them in sealed containers or covered tightly with cling film. The stuffing for the roasted bird (Turkey, cockerel, duck etc) can easily be made in advance, fresh bread crumbs for the bread sauce can done in advance. Even the gravy could be made in advance and then finished off on the day with the roasting juices from the bird!”

What are modern starters that people have these days as my usual repertoire is melon balls and parma ham or tomato soup!
“I would like to hope the the majority of people have now moved away from melon balls!! I would serve home marinated salmon with beetroot and fennel seeds, or finely sliced English coppa (cured pork neck) with a celeriac and mustard salad.”

What would you serve for pudding and what would you serve as snacks? i.e.) Would you bring out the mince pies after the main meal or have them later with a drink?
“I generally think that the pudding should be served a little later after the main event of the main course, to let your food digest and extend the time we spend round the festive table! I would serve a classic figgy pudding or a trifle. Have your mince pies definitely later on in the day!”

Bourne & Hollingsworth Kitchen

Bourne & Hollingsworth Kitchen

Thanks Chef Adam! He and his team run regular courses at B&H Kitchen taking place every Wednesday evening and Saturday daytime. Prices for the courses range from Courses range from £60 – £120 and you can see what is available here:

chocolate tarts

From one chef to another – several years ago I met celebrity chef Marco Pierre-White at a Christmas dinner masterclass that he was teaching to a handful of bloggers. Watch my video to learn how he prepares his turkey! You can read all about meeting Marco here!

Now for the drinks! Cocktail Expert Jim Wringley from B&H Kitchen has given JuggleMum readers a recipe for the Perfect Christmas Punch!

Serves 10-20 (Increase or decrease proportionate to requirements)

1 Bottle (700ml) Brandy – Nothing too fancy, Spanish is perfect as it is rich and woody

1 Bottle (700ml) Rum – Heavier rums such as Appleton from Jamaica, El Dorado from Guyana are best for full flavours, but lighter rums or a mix of the two are also more than fine.

1 Bottle (700ml) Port – LBV for colour and flavour

1 litre Lemon juice & peel – Fresh is best, 48 hours max. Peel the lemons first and add to the mix overnight.

1 litre Sugar syrup – Darker sugar = richer punch. I recommend Billington’s unrefined sugar. One part sugar to one part hot (Not boiling!) water. Stir until clear.

2 litres Spiced apple juice – Warm in a pan:

2 Cinnamon sticks

10 Cloves

½ Nutmeg (Grated)

3 Star anise

2g Rainbow peppercorns

Once the spices start to smoke lightly, add 2 litres pressed apple juice and simmer for 10 minutes. Leave to cool and then strain.

10 dashes – Angostura Bitters

Add all ingredients together and leave to rest in the fridge overnight. Keep a little sugar syrup and lemon juice for last minutes adjustment to taste.

Add a couple of litres to a good sized punchbowl surrounded with waiting vessels and a ladle. Just before guests arrive add ice to fill the bowl and garnishes, then stir and serve. As the bowl dips below halfway, add another litre of punch mix and fill with fresh ice and garnishes.

As an added extra touch, I wait until a few close friends have arrived and make a show of tasting the punch with them, before popping a bottle of bubbles and adding it to the awaiting punch to ‘liven’ the first batch and kick start the celebrations!

(To serve warm, simply heat in a pan until too hot to touch – small mugs are better for gloved hands to grasp.)

Do you have any tried and tested tips to make the Christmas dinner prep easy? Let me know in the comments!



Article Categories:
Food · How To

Comments to A busy cook’s guide to hosting the easiest Christmas dinner ever!

  • Some great tips there, I must admit I am always disorganised on Christmas day but it always works out in the end and I use my tried and tested Delia Smith Christmas recipe book for moral support.

    Nikki Thomas 19th December 2016 8:04 pm Reply
    • You can’t beat a bit of moral support!!

      Nadine Hill 20th December 2016 9:13 am Reply
  • We have a pretty relaxed Christmas dinner here. We don’t bother with starters anymore and have our dessert later in the day. The husbeast is such a relaxed and good cook, I am so lucky.

    Jen Walshaw 20th December 2016 10:25 am Reply
    • Sounds like bliss!

      Nadine Hill 22nd December 2016 10:22 am Reply
  • Really need to decide what we are having for dessert this year… even though we never actually eat dessert until hours after lunch lol x

    Sonia 20th December 2016 10:10 pm Reply
    • There’s just so much food isn’t there!!

      Nadine Hill 22nd December 2016 10:22 am Reply
  • I love melon balls LOL – I don’t do starter though, just a main course and a dessert. The kids are normally full of chocolate anyway

    Kara 21st December 2016 8:05 am Reply
    • In all honesty Kara, so do I! But in foodie terms I guess we are dinosaurs!! Have a great Christmas! x

      Nadine Hill 22nd December 2016 10:21 am Reply
  • We go very simple at Christmas as we’d rather not spend so much time in the kitchen. Ours is just a Sunday roast with crackers and party hats ha ha

    Cass@frugalfamily 22nd December 2016 8:26 am Reply
    • Sounds great! Really the most important bit is spending time together. Have a good one!

      Nadine Hill 22nd December 2016 10:20 am Reply
  • My mum sorts out Christmas dinner, so I am lucky and get to watch the boys play with their new toys but next year we might be attempting it! x

    Karen Langridge 28th December 2016 9:05 am Reply

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