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Christmas Day tips and tricks from the pros

Less is more for lunch

Steven Edwards, etch

“Keep it simple. I always make smoked salmon and creme fraiche blinis for pre-dinner canapés. They are always a winner and work well with English sparkling wine.

For the main event, each year we have a different meat. I keep vegetables down to a choice of three plus Yorkshire puddings and pigs in blankets. Instead of just roasting everything I try and make a feature of the vegetables so it could be creamed sprouts, carrot and swede mash or cauliflower cheese.

There is always too much food and too much stress about Christmas lunch anyway!”.

Jimmy Gray of Angelica Food

Tart up your turkey

Jimmy Gray,

“Start your Christmas dinner preparations on Christmas Eve so you’re ahead of the game for the big day. I recommend brining your turkey for 24-48 hours to give excellent depth of flavour and to stop the bird drying out. For the brine, dissolve 15% salt and 5% sugar into water before adding a mix of star anise, cloves, peppercorns, bay leaf, thyme and orange peel. Place your bird into a large bowl or sterilised bucket and complete cover with the brine mix then leave until Christmas morning”.

Aoife Sweeney and partner Annie Gelpy of La Choza

Bling up your brunch Mexican style

Aoife Sweeney, La Choza

There is nothing I like better than a Christmas brunch Bloody Maria – a spicy Tequila twist on the Bloody Mary. Give the glass a chilli rim, add lots of fresh lime juice over ice with lashings of Valentia hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, 50ml of your favourite tequila and top with tomato juice and seasoning. Failing that I always love a margarita, who doesn’t?"

Chef Simon Mckenzie

Spectacular sprouts

Chef Simon Mckenzie,

“I’m a big fan of trimming the outer leaves as normal but then cutting oil half, through the root. Take some really good quality dry cured streaky bacon or pancetta lardons easily available from supermarkets and some chestnuts and flat leaf parsley too.

Cut the bacon into thin strips around 3mm thick and chop the chestnuts roughly keeping them separate. Run your knife through the parsley again keeping everything separate.

Heat up a frying pan and add a little vegetable oil. Add the bacon and fry until crispy. Transfer to a clean bowl and return the pan to the heat.

Add the sprouts and start to colour them. Add some unsalted butter - a generous knob, and continue to cook until they are golden brown. Check to see if they are soft but still have a little bite to them. If they are still too hard add a splash of water and continue to cook until they soften.

Remove the pan from the heat and add the cooked bacon, the chestnuts and the parsley along with another knob of butter and stir everything together. Remember to taste and add salt if required. Spoon into a warm clean bowl and serve”.

David Deaves of Curds & Whey

Cheese dreams

David Deaves, Curds & Whey

“Remember to take your cheese out of the fridge on Christmas morning to bring it up to room temperature so you enjoy all the flavours. And save any leftovers from your Christmas cheeseboard to make a rich and comforting macaroni cheese”.

Wine: keep it light

Tom Flint, Bottle & Jug Dept

“When it comes to the wine, keep it fresh and light. The food is going to be rich so whites need great acidity and zing. A Sussex fizz can last the distance especially if it’s a Blanc de Noirs. Keep reds light so choose Pinot Noir or Beaujolais style wines. Save your finest bottles for after the meal as they risk being overpowered. Open afterwards and savour in all their delight”.

Kenny Tutt of Pitch

Gravy: Prep your sauces

Kenny Tutt, Pitch

“Make a good to-do list, working back from the time you’d like to serve your Christmas meal. And prep! Don’t leave it all to the last minute, and make as much as you can ahead of time. Things like bread sauce, cranberry sauce and gravy are great ones to get done in advance; even a day or two ahead). And a top tip is to add a splash of redcurrant jelly to your gravy – trust me!”.

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