Mark Charker, Head Chef at The Bell in Ticehurst, explains how to take the stress out of Christmas cooking by getting some prep work in early All this prep leaves only cooking your festive centerpiece on the big day, and as long as the roasties are shatteringly crunchy and the gravy is hot and there’s … Continue reading "Perfect Prep"

Mark Charker, Head Chef at The Bell in Ticehurst, explains how to take the stress out of Christmas cooking by getting some prep work in early

  • Get ahead by pre-cooking your potatoes and side dishes to be heated up on Christmas Day. Maris Piper potatoes can be peeled, cut and par boiled in salted water and then drained and cooled. Put on a flat tray and into the fridge, or even the freezer if you want to really help yourself, and then roast in hot duck fat to serve. This technique also works with Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and tougher winter greens such as cavolo nero and kale. 
  • Some side dishes can be made totally in advance and then reheated while the turkey or meat is resting. Try a Jerusalem artichoke and smoked bacon gratin by peeling and finely slicing the artichokes into ice cold lemon water, before tossing the slices with melted butter and layering in a butter dish with the smoked bacon and seasoning. Cover with parchment paper and tin foil and bake at 160˚C for around half an hour. Cool and refrigerate and reheat when needed. 
  • Braised red cabbage is another great vegetable dish to get done in advance and actually improves in flavour on sitting. 
  • Make sausage meat stuffing, pigs in blankets and your gravy ahead, ready to add to the juices in the roasting tray. 

All this prep leaves only cooking your festive centerpiece on the big day, and as long as the roasties are shatteringly crunchy and the gravy is hot and there’s enough of it, it will be the best Christmas Day lunch, ever. 

Find out more at thebellinticehurst.com

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