Christmas Tips and Tricks for Cooking This Holiday

Words: Crush

Cooking the grand festive meal can be stressful, and with family, everyone has their two cents worth on how you should be cooking things. Don’t listen to them, listen to us, your trusted friends in food. We run through some simple Christmas tips and tricks for to ensure that every dish turns out perfectly.

Easy Christmas Tips and Tricks From the Experts

Juicy Turkey

Avoid a dried out turkey by shoving a lot of butter (and we mean a lot – nearly 250 g) under the skin of the bird. Also bard it, by placing strips of fatty bacon over the crown to ensure extra juiciness. Christmas Tips and Tricks

Carving Techniques

This is important if you’ve cooked a turkey for Christmas lunch or dinner. First up, hold the wing by the tip, cut it at the midsection. Then repeat with the other wing. Secondly, hold the leg, cut through the leg and the body then twist off. Repeat with the other leg. Thirdly, using the tip of the knife, cut along the breast bone until you can remove the breast. Carve the breast piece in any way you like to serve. This part is important mainly due to your guest’s preferences, but then slice dark meat from leg and wing. Finally, serve all the meat and make sure to pour all the leftover juices over the sliced meat. This will tenderise the sliced meat as well as give it extra flavour.

Quick Turkey

When it comes to the festive season, no table is complete without a turkey. However, turkey takes a long time to cook and can be frustrating if you don’t have room in your oven for more dishes. For a quicker cooking time, spatchcocking or butterflying the turkey will lead to a much quicker roast. If you’re not too sure how to make sure to ask your local butcher to do it for you.

Crunchy Crackling

Make sure that your pork crackling is glasslike and really crispy by scoring the fat (but don’t cut all the way through to the meat!), then rub the fat all over with salt and leave to air dry for a couple of hours in the fridge. Protect the meat by wrapping it (not the fat) in foil or cling film while it’s in the fridge.

Christmas Tips and Tricks
Christmas Tips and Tricks

Great Gravy

Making gravy is much easier if you use a roasting pan that is stove-proof. Roughly slice some onions and place in the roasting tray below the turkey. Once your bird is done, you’ll be left with soft onions and loads of pan juices.

Simply pop the roasting tray onto the stove and make your gravy right in there, then strain out the onions and bits.


Use your oven wisely, put dishes together in the oven that can cook at the same temperature. For example, your turkey can roast on one rack and your potatoes or other roots can cook below it. Plan your menu according to the amount of oven, stove and fridge space that you have.

Don’t just think in terms of a full-on roast that only uses your oven. Get your braai, steamer and fridges involved in preparing the meal.

Don’t Let The Dishes Pile Up

This one is a no brainer but most people are messy cooks, so we need to just lay it out for all of you. When you’re cooking, especially a big feast, dirty dishes, knives, veggie peelers, you name it, they add up. It’s crucial to wash as you go to clear up some valuable surface space, also no-one wants to be left with a monster pile to get through when you’re stuffed with turkey and gammon.

Roast that Roast Right

If you’re serious about crafting the juiciest roast, these two tricks are for you.

First thing, don’t use a roasting pan, treat your oven as a braai and place your meat right onto one of your oven’s grill racks. If this sounds weird, bear with us, roasting meat without the interference of a pan allows for the heat to be distributed evenly. Simply place a sheet of tin foil on the oven rack underneath the rack on which you’ve placed your meat, place a roasting tray over that – this will catch all your drippings and make for an excellent gravy base – oil up your meat and place it straight on the rack.

If you’re worried about cleaning the rack afterwards, just use an onion, it’ll wipe everything away in no time. Secondly, once your meat is done and it’s resting, flip it upside down. This will allow all the juices to flow back into the meat.

Roast Potatoes

We all love roasted potatoes during Christmas time – there are a couple of tips to getting maximum flavour and crispness. The first trick is to parboil them – do this in salted water and add a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, this helps breakdown the surface of the potato. Once parboiled, toss the potatoes in a colander to create texture on the surface (the oil gets into all those crevices). Then dust with a bit of flour before frying or roasting to give them extra crunch. Another trick to getting maximum flavour and crispiness is to pour some hot oil over the potatoes (preferably duck or turkey fat) after you’ve seasoned them and right before you start cooking them.

Zest Up Your Christmas Pudding

The best part, dessert. Add an extra, flavour touch to your puddings this year by grating some zest into the pudding mix. Lemon, orange or grapefruit adds a refreshing citrus note that cuts through the heavy dinner or lunch you just had.

Need an amazing turkey recipe? Try this one, filled with bacon and apple stuffing!

Christmas Tips and Tricks

Check out these fab festive recipes, also, you’ll need great sides and desserts.

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