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How to ace Christmas lunch

Worried about your turkey timings? Pondering over your roast potatoes? Nail your festive feast with 11 Michelin-starred tips from Le Manoir de Quat'Saisons.

For anyone who hankers after perfect roasties and can’t be bothered to wrestle for days with a turkey, read Le Manoir de Quat’Saisons‘ top tips for producing the killer Christmas lunch, courtesy of Mark Peregrine, long time Director of the Raymond Blanc Cookery School.


1. There’s no need to cook your turkey for hours and hours and hours and stuff butter down the turkey skin and all that jazz I’ve been doing for years. Baste the outside of the  turkey in plenty of butter, and for a 5kg bird, cook for roughly 1.5 hours at 180C, reducing to 160C after roughly an hour of that time, basting regularly from one hour onwards. No need to turn the turkey upside down to cook it – all that does is flatten the breasts. Frankly there’s enough of that problem in the Muddy house without encouraging it further.

2. Use a temperature probe to test the thigh meat – if it’s 65C for the breasts or 70C on the thigh, the turkey is cooked. It’s that simple.

3. It’s OK to leave the turkey to rest for the length of time you cooked it. The bones of the turkey act like a radiator. The meat will still be warm by serving time. Just put it in the oven for 10 minutes to give the breasts a slight reheat and you’ll be good to go.

3. Buy Albert Bartlet Rooster potatoes (they’re in Morrisons and Asda and all over the TV at the mo). They’re the best for roasting by a country mile.

4. Check that your oven is doing what it’s supposed to by checking with an oven thermometer. It’s no good putting your turkey on at 180C for an hour if it’s actually cooking at 150C!

5.  A common mistake is to use salted butter – make sure yours is unsalted, Président is a goodie. You’ll be seasoning separately which is why you don’t need to do it twice.

6. Use goose fat for your potatoes if at all possible and pan fry before putting into the oven – they’ll be as close to divine as a humble spud can get.

7. Don’t worry about which way up the foil goes. In the oven it’s main purpose is to stop the meat over-browning.

8. For the gravy, if you can’t be bothered to make your own stock (er, no actually), Heston’s dark beef stock at Waitrose is recommended. No matter that it’s for beef, it will give a great depth of flavour to your gravy.

9. Never mind that it makes you look a bit pretentious, season from a height! It will give a better distribution of flavour.

10. No need to stuff the stuffing where the sun don’t shine. Just make it into a sausage, wrap it tightly in foil and bake in the oven. When it comes out you can slice it like a salami. This will lower the cooking time of your birdy, as it takes longer with the stuffing in the cavity.

11. Buy the fun extras. A proper baster, an oven thermometer, a temperature probe, a roasting tray that fits snugly, a set of golf clubs, cuddly toy, and an electric blanket if you can remember the order on the conveyor belt.

Now pour, toast, eat and enjoy.

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