Hosting Christmas this year? First: our hats go off to you. Second: you’re going to need some help. Third: we’ve got tips, right here. Pictured above: Garden trifle
1. Chill a bottle of wine, quick. Wrap your bottle in a damp tea towel and place in the freezer for 10-20 minutes.
2. Prep your sides. Get your sides cooking the day before by par-boiling. Par-boil potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots and parsnips, then roast them the next day.
3. Ultimate potatoes. There are a few tricks to make the best roast potatoes. First, par-boil and drain in a colander, giving it a few bangs to break up your potatoes and fluff them up a bit. Sprinkle with flour or cornflour. Preheat your oven and pop the pan (with plenty of butter or duck fat) in to warm it up. You want the pan scalding hot, which will help crisp up the potatoes immediately. Then pop your potatoes in and roast away.
4. Cook your turkey evenly. Turkey breasts cook more quickly — and therefore dry out more quickly — than the rest of the bird. Combat this by placing ziplock bags of ice over the breasts for 30 minutes before roasting, then wrapping them in foil. If your turkey is too dry, heat some chicken stock and pour it over.
5. Save your gravy. Lumpy gravy? Blend it with a stick blender. Too thick? Whisk in a little chicken stock until you get the desired consistency. Too thin? Make a paste of equal parts softened butter and flour, and whisk ’til you get the consistency you’re after.
6. Make the best stuffing. For the best stuffing, always cook your aromatics first. Onions, celery and any herbs all get fried off before adding to your breadcrumb mixture.
7. Soften butter easily. Thaw cold butter instantly by grating it.
8. Keep your seafood fresh. Keep prawns, oysters and fish fresh by packing them in ice and then placing on the bottom shelf of the fridge.
9. De-stink your bins. Got leftover prawn and oyster shells? Put them in a bag in the freezer until bin night so your neighbours aren’t tempted to sue you for stinking up the street.
10. Perfect your pav. The secret to a perfectly chewy, marhmallow-y pavlova? A teaspoon of white vinegar once you’ve whipped the egg whites and sugar.
11. Hack your trifle. For a super-easy, decadent trifle, use a quality, store-bought sponge cake, sponge finger biscuits, or even a Christmas pudding. And remember, trifles are the ultimate make-ahead dessert — they’re actually better if they’re left for a few hours.