Ruby Tandoh's Xmas dinner

The cheat’s guide

Words: Ruby Tandoh

Ah, Christmas dinner. There’s something about it that inspires even the laziest microwave cooks to crack open the cookbooks and rustle up a festive feast.

Whether it’s the deluge of food programmes on TV, the mythical imagery of the perfect Christmas spread or just plain ego to blame, it’s a recipe for disaster.  

It’s easy to get swept up in fantasies of mulled wine and everyone complimenting you on the calibre of your homemade mince pies. But, when trying to baste the bird, stir the gravy and dab a wine stain off your party dress all while slightly pissed, those fantasies will seem cruelly ironic.

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Don’t let a turkey ruin your Christmas – here are some yuletide tips:  

– Stick to the flavours you know and like: you’re not Heston.  And I repeat. Don’t try to infuse the roasties with a pine sprig off the Christmas tree.

– Keep it simple: no jus, no parsnip puree, no pancetta foam, no glazed anything, no sous vide turkey, no deconstructed sprouts. If in doubt, repeat the mantra: ‘What would Delia do?’  -

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– Be pragmatic: will that 6kg goose actually fit in your oven? Are you sure? Who needs 6kg of goose, anyway?  - Think outside of the Christmas clichés: if you’re not a roast dinner enthusiast, don’t make one. There are far quicker, easier, cheaper ways to indulge at Christmas – a huge vat of steaming chilli, homemade cornbread, bowls heaped with sour cream and guacamole… The list goes on.  

– Choose a lighter dessert: the very British desire to compound stodge with stodge, forcing down Christmas pudding and cheeses and trifles after a full roast, is an act of wonderful festive masochism. Instead, try lightly crushing a handful of raspberries, flaked almonds and a little sugar into some softly whipped cream.  

– Most importantly of all: enjoy yourself, because Christmas should be fun. If Christmas dinner means a minor meltdown, if you end up wanting to crawl into the oven with the sodding turkey, if you find yourself sobbing into the spuds – you’re doing it wrong. 

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