Tips to make your best Christmas dinner yet

Follow these tips for your perfect Christmas dinner.
Follow these tips for your perfect Christmas dinner.

Succulent turkey with a dot of cranberry sauce, crispy roast potatoes and (obviously) a pig in a blanket.

There is no denying that Christmas dinner is one of the finest meals of the year - but how do you ensure that your December 25 meal tops the previous year?

If there is one meal you want to be proud of it's this one, so we're revealing some of the secrets to perfect festive fare.

And who better to look to than a group of restaurants who serve roaring good roasts every day.

Andy Sargeant, head chef for Toby Carvery, has shared his top tips for making sure the Christmas lunch is top notch.

"I'm always getting asked for handy tips to help when it comes to cooking the festive feast," he said.

"It simply isn't Christmas without the traditional turkey roast."

So from your bird, to your trimmings to your dressings, let Andy guide you through the Christmas meal a step a time.

***Tips for a tasty Turkey

No one likes a dry turkey on Christmas Day and, as always, the trick is proper preparation.

Soaking the turkey in brine for a day works wonders, as does slow cooking at no less than 163C. Chop an onion and a lemon in half, pop it in the turkey and roast as usual. It’ll help keep your turkey moist and add a lovely hint of lemon.

***This calls for a ‘roastie’

Roasties don't have to be a Christmas miracle.

Parboil the potatoes and get the oven on to heat up your oil. Once the spuds are parboiled, drain well then give them a shake. Keep the lid on and bash them about. You want broken up edges – what we call 'ruffled' – these are the bits that will crisp up in the oven and keep the inside deliciously soft.

Put the spuds in the tray, carefully baste them in the hot oil – this seals them and stops them sticking.

Spread the potatoes out and slide them into the oven for 45 minutes or so, turning them over once halfway through. Sprinkle with salt to finish.

***Homemade Yorkshires, what’s the secret?

When you've mixed your batter, beat it with a whisk and put it in the fridge to combine for half an hour.

Take out your batter and whisk it all over again, then transfer to a jug for easier pouring.

Get the oil piping hot, add the batter to your trays then pop them in a pre-heated oven at 240C/Gas Mark 8 for 20 minutes.

Don't open the door to check on progress – the cold air will make your puds sag. When they rise and look golden-brown and crisp on top, they're done.

***All aboard the gravy boat!

The tastiest gravy is made using the juices from the roasting pan – just ask Santa! Remember, colour is flavour, so don't be shy about scraping in those dark burned-in bits.

Add stock or water to give your gravy more body. Have a look in the fridge and add leftover apple sauce, horseradish, or mint for more flavour. Use your imagination.

You could also try roasted onions or vegetable juice.

***Carving duties

Just like wrapping presents, presentation is everything on Christmas Day. Use the entire length of the knife to carve, cutting against the grain to slice up the meat fibres.

If you use a fork to hold the meat in place, press lightly. If you stick the fork hard into the joint, everything will collapse and you'll squeeze those sumptuous juices out.

Ideally, you should only use a fork to move the sliced meat.