The Simple Christmas Dinner from!

The thought of preparing a successful Christmas lunch fills a lot of people with cold terror. What vegetables to use? How to cook the turkey and how long for? When to cook the veg? How far in advance should I have planned things? Questions, questions, terror and panic.

We thought we’d take the worry and stress out of it so, armed with a turkey, a selection of quality veg, a range cooker and resident chef Tom, we prepared a lunch here in the studio. In two and a half hours, start to finish. And we took pics along the way. Good eh?

OK, let’s get going...


You will need (typically):
1 free range turkey - ours was 4kg and served 8 people as a main course. There was none left over.
2kg potatoes (ideally Maris Pipers)
400g parsnips
400g carrots
2 large red onions
500g brussels sprouts
200g shallots
1 bulb of garlic
Sprigs of fresh rosemary
500ml chicken stock (or if brave enough, boil turkey giblets for an hour to make your own!)
Splash white wine
Sea salt & black pepper.

buttering turkey

Take your turkey and rub butter into the skin, both topside and underside. Grind black pepper and sea salt all over.

stuffing turkey

Stuff the cavity of the bird with chopped red onion, whole shallots and fresh rosemary.

buttering turkey

Now for the controversial bit - we turned the bird

upside down

in the roasting tin before placing into the oven. We then drizzled a little more melted butter over the top. The logic behind the upside down cooking is that most juices will run down into the breast during cooking, allowing the meat to stay moist. Makes perfect sense!

Place the bird into a preheated oven, ours is fanned so was set to 180°C (Gas Mark 4), for the amount of time recommended on this website depending on weight. This is just a guide however - our turkey weighed 4kg and took just 2 hours to be cooked perfectly in the fanned oven. If your electric oven is not fanned, adjust your cooking time by and additional 30 mins or so, or set it a bit higher to 200°C.

chopped potatoes

Peel your potatoes and chop into decent sized pieces. Place in a pan and cover with cold water - add salt, then put over a medium to high heat until boiling. Turn the heat down and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the outside is softened. Put a large oven dish containing oil into the oven to heat up.

slicing shallots

chopped vegetables for roasting

Peel your shallots, red onions and parsnips and wash your carrots. Roughly chop the red onions into decent sized pieces. Peel your garlic cloves, chop some fresh rosemary and add all into a roasting dish. Pour a healthy glug of oil over the top, grind some black pepper and some see salt over the top, and by this time ...

roasting potatoes

... the potatoes should be ready to drain, ‘roughening up’ by shaking in the pan, dropping into the preheated roasting dish containing the hot oil and sprinkling with salt. Toss the potatoes in the oil to cover. Place the potatoes and the dish containing the rest of the vegetables into the oven. If you have a conventional oven place the potatoes on the upper shelf to crispen up - on a fanned oven this is not as important, as the heat will be evenly distributed throughout the cavity.

basting turkey

30 minutes before the turkey is due to finish cooking, remove from the oven and flip it over to sit it the right way up in the roasting tin. Baste the turkey - and potatoes, ideally - in the juices from the bottom of the tin. Place back into the oven for the last 30 minutes.

Check that the turkey is cooked by piercing the thigh with a skewer - the juices will run clear when cooked fully throughout. Remove the turkey from the roasting dish (leave the juices in the tin and set aside!) and leave to rest, covered in foil, for 30 minutes. This will allow the meat fibres time to expand and the juices time to settle.

peeling sprouts

Peel your sprouts, place into a pan with some salt and cover with boiling water. Bring back to the boil and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve water.

making gravy

Pour a small amount of white wine into the roasting dish you set aside earlier, still containing the turkey juices, and add to a medium heat, stirring to loosen any meat residue. Reduce by one half, then add 500ml of chicken stock. Continue stirring over the heat until a good consistency is achieved. If too thick, slowly add the water reserved from the sprouts to loosen. If too thin, add a paste of cornflour and water gradually to thicken.

By this time, your turkey will have rested and roast potatoes and roast veg should be done to perfection.

completed Christmas Dinner

Assemble into the original - now clean - roasting dish and add fresh rosemary sprigs.

Perfect - no sprawling ingredient list nor complicated technique. The end result is a beautifully simple, elegant Christmas dinner that tastes fantastic, as we can all attest to here in the studio.