Chef’s Top Tips For A Stress-Free Christmas

matt lisa turkeyWith the big day fast approaching, many of will be stressing not just over the pressure of providing the perfect meal on Christmas day but also what to make for family and friends in the days around Christmas. Luckily Food Network UK’s chef’s Andy Bates, Lotte Duncan, Lisa Faulkner, Tristan Welsh, Donal Skehan. Marcus Bean, Matt Tebbutt and Ching-He Huang share their foodie tips to make the Christmas season easier, tastier and more special.

Street food chef Andy Bates gives his top tips for perfecting the all-important Christmas meal

For a tasty Christmas turkey

  •  Make sure you rest your meat for up to an hour as it makes it a lot more succulent
  • I like to add my own twists on the traditional festive meal, I would recommend trying out a different roast like goose or venison

Brussels sprouts

  • To cook tasty Brussels sprouts all you have to do is slice them and sauté them with shallots and bacon lardons. For that extra little bit of richness try adding some cream to the mix.

My top tip on all your Christmas leftovers

  • Cold meat can be chopped and added to a veloute Sauce (which is white sauce made with stock instead of milk). Then cover it in pastry and freeze until you need it for a lovely pie

Christmas Day with Andy

  • This year I will be eating bacon and scallop butties with a glass of champagne to start off my day. Then a fillet of venison with all the roast trimmings for lunch, followed by Christmas pudding with ice cream and custard. Then I will be having a long snooze on the sofa.

 Lotte Duncan’s tips for making Christmas cooking stress-free this year

Tristan-turkeyBrussel sprouts

  • They are always best if you steam and serve with salt and/or butter
  • For those who aren’t partial to Brussels sprouts why not try disguising them as cauliflower cheese! It’s delicious with mustard

The ultimate Christmas roasties

  • Par boil the potatoes in water with vegetable or chicken stock
  • Drain and shake to roughen up the edges
  • Place in a baking tray of very hot rapeseed oil – the oil should come half way up the potatoes
  • Cook for 20 minutes, turn and cook for a further 20 minutes until golden and crispy
  • My top tip for Christmas roasties is to add a pinch of saffron when boiling the potatoes to add that extra ‘golden’ yellowness

Quick and easy stuffing

If you find yourself short of time this Christmas, fear not, as these tips make a great and easy stuffing.

  • First, buy a packet of sage and onion stuffing
  • Follow the instructions and mix into a batch of good quality sausage meat
  • For a bit of extra flavour, add a clove or two of freshly chopped garlic to your stuffing
  • My top tip is to roll your stuffing into little balls and cook for 15 minutes to create little party sized Christmas nibbles – replace the garlic with chopped dried cranberries to add a splash of fruity originality

Putting a twist on your traditional turkey

  • Mix 100g of butter with the zest of half a lemon and a pinch of dried thyme
  • Slide your fingers under the skin of the turkey and pack the butter in – go on, get messy!
  • Place the turkey upside down in the baking tin which has been lined with plenty of tinfoil
  • Cook your turkey upside down (no I’m not kidding) – to keep the breast nice and moist
  • Wrap the turkey loosely in tin foil and cook according to weight
  • 30 minutes before the cooking time is complete, uncover the turkey and cook until golden brown.
  • Leave to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes before serving 

 Chef Tristan Welch shares his tips for making the most of Christmas ingredients this year  

Brussel sprouts

Add a different twist to your sprouts this year…

  • Chop up loads of sprouts into shreds and cook them for half the time you normally would in butter with a drop of honey
  • Place half of them in the bottom of a baking dish and then pack in a thick layer of stuffing
  • Put the rest of the sprouts on top and bake. Serve a slice with cranberry sauce or redcurrant jelly. This also makes a great veggie option for Christmas Day

What to do with Christmas leftovers

  • Why not mix up the leftovers this year – I love Christmas left over toasties. It doesn’t matter what goes in them as all things on the Christmas table go well together. As long as there is a bit of stuffing in there somewhere!
  • My top tip is to keep them moist and put some Brie in for that extra flavour

Lisa Faulkner shows how to bring a bit of sparkle to Christmas

Fruit mince piesMince Pies

  • I always make mincemeat a couple of months in advance and store them in large glass jars. I cut out bottoms and lids for mince pies from short crust pastry and freeze them on baking parchment.
  • Between Christmas and New Year when hoards of hungry guests descend on you, these wonderful mince pies can be made in seconds.


  • I love bubble and squeak sandwiches with bread sauce, easy to make from left overs and they feel very indulgent.

Christmas Turkey

  • To keep my turkey from drying out, when I take it out of the oven to rest, I wrap it in foil, newspaper and then a towel.
  • You don’t get crispy skin, but you do get a fantastically moist and warm bird.


  • When wilting spinach, do make sure you drain it on some paper towel before you add it to the plate so it doesn’t leave a pool of water.

 Marcus Bean reveals how to make everything taste better this Christmas


  • A nice colourful addition to soups and salads in the winter are roast vegetable crisps, I peel parsnips, carrots, beetroot and artichokes into long strips and then fry until golden.
  • I roast all my veggies on Christmas day together. I add chopped carrots, Jerusalem artichoke swede, celeriac and parsnips to star anise, honey, mustard and olive oil and roast on a high temperature.
  • Whenever you cook with red wine, make sure it is high quality, if you wouldn’t drink it, don’t cook with it.

Christmas Puddings

  • I serve my Christmas pudding with creme anglaise with a dash of brandy. This is much lighter than brandy cream but feels just as indulgent.
  • If I have some left over it becomes the base of a fantastic creme brûlée.
  • I make my Christmas pudding on Christmas day morning, I know it’s not traditional but it tastes just as good.
  • A fun festive dessert is a chocolate brownie Eaton Mess. Pile crumbled brownies on top of fresh fruit such as blackberries or tangerine segments then top with whipped cream and then repeat the process.
  • A fun festive dessert is a chocolate brownie Eaton Mess. Pile crumbled brownies on top of fresh fruit such as blackberries or tangerine segments then top with whipped cream and then repeat the process.


  • To make an easy but tasty stuffing, add smoked bacon to sausage meat, thyme, sage and cranberry sauce.
  • Mix well, and shape into balls, put on a baking tray to roast in the oven.

Apple Sauce

  • For a Christmassy take on apple sauce, peel and chop a dessert apple and microwave until it has disintegrated with a splash of Clementine juice and some sugar.


  • A great way to use up Christmas leftovers is to make a pea and ham risotto.
  • Prepare a regular risotto base and when the rice gets to the al dente stage, add a purée made from defrosted frozen peas and add for the final stage of cooking.
  • Flake the ham over the top when it is served

Donal Skehan makes Christmas dinner easy

Tristan-parsnipsDonal’s top Potato tip

  • My top tip is to parboil the potatoes and then freeze them until Christmas eve.
  • Take them out of the freezer to defrost over night and then add hot duck fat and season well before you put them in the oven to roast.


  • My favourite Christmas side dish is finely chopped sprouts with smoked bacon and maple syrup.


  • A quick way to make your turkey stand out, is to ask your butcher to debone and roll it for you.
  • Often they will even roll it up with your home made stuffing, deboned and rolled, it’s a doddle to carve.


  • If you are struggling for space in your oven on Christmas day, add your veggies to the same roasting pan as your turkey, they will absorb some of the fantastic turkey flavour.

Christmas Pudding

  • My favourite pudding to eat over the Christmas season is to sprinkle some sugar over left over Christmas pudding, put it under the grill for a couple of minutes until the sugar starts to melt, and then leave to cool.
  • Mix in to good quality vanilla ice cream and with swirls of dulce du leche, it is divine.

Matt Tebbutt brings Christmas cheer to the table this year


  • For a fantastic addition to your Christmas table setting, melt some sugar in a frying pan, wait for it to melt then add two clementine halves flesh side down and wait for a couple of minutes while it starts to caramelise.
  • Pop them into a little dish just before you are about to sit down and your guests will get a heavenly waft of Christmas just as they take their seats.
  • Terrines are a fantastic way of wowing guests easily and are perfect for large gatherings as they can be prepared up to a couple of weeks in advance and look stunning.

Cheeky Christmas drink

  • For a naughty Christmas treat, a week before the big day, hollow out a hole in the centre of a round of Stilton, fill with port and keep covered in a cold place. Top up with port every couple of days-delicious.

Brussel sprouts

  • My favourite way to serve sprouts is to place them in an oven dish, pour over enough  chicken stock just so they are covered then add garlic and thyme.
  • Place on the top tray in the oven to cook for an hour at 180 degrees.

Roast Potatoes

  • If you cook goose do make sure you save some of the fat, it makes superior roast potatoes.

Ching-He Huang puts a twist onto Christmas this year

Jun-sproutsTop Tip

  • My main tip for Christmas cooking is boring but so important- prepare in advance! Marinade any meats that need it in advance and prepare your veg the day before.
  • To keep your Christmas food light, take advantage of the wonderful fruit in season, and add zesty citrus juices from clementines and tangerines to salad dressings and marinades.


  • As you would expect, my Christmas cooking has strong Asian influences that mesh well with the traditional English elements of a Christmas meal.
  • For example, for sides, I stir fry a traditional ingredient- savoy cabbage with ginger and shitake mushrooms or stir fry sprouts with bacon lardons instead of steaming them.
  • I make a regular gravy from roasted turkey or goose juices, but add fermented black beans to give it a Chinese twist.

Christmas Pudding

  • A fresh take on a dessert I like to serve at Christmas is very good quality vanilla ice cream drizzled with my special soy and balsamic sauce.
  • Add balsamic vinegar and soy sauce to melted sugar just as it begins to caramelise.
  • When it cools down pour over good quality ice cream and serve as it sets- delicious and quite unexpected.


  • I decorate my Christmas table with a hotchpotch of my very best china and plenty of red decorations and candles.
  • I lay cut holly and ivy from my garden around the crockery.
  • When I have finished putting it together it looks like a banquet is about to take place!

For more Christmas tips watch Food Network UK throughout December (Channel Freeview 48 and Sky 262/263) or recreate their dishes this Christmas from

Miss B

Miss B

Miss B is a Belle About Town who likes to bring a little bit of style into every aspect of her life. An experienced journalist with over a decade in the industry she turned to the web to fill a gap for tech-savvy stylish women who want the best life has to offer at their fingertips. She loves a decadent cocktail bar, a beautifully cut dress, the perfect pair of heels, quality over quantity and is partial to Asian-fusion food, enjoys holidaying in the sun and shopping breaks to New York. But her first love is of course London!


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