Food Tried & Tested: Christmas Recipes

Everything is set for the perfect Christmas.

Making a mess of Christmas dinner is a sure fire way to put a dampener on the festive season and leave your guests wishing they had stayed at home. 

But, we have some festive recipes that will keep you on track on the busy day, and we've even tried and tested. Here's the recipes and our verdicts...

Bacon and Egg Canapés

The Hairy Bikers  bacon and egg canapés
The Hairy Bikers bacon and egg canapés

Ingredients (makes 12)

For the pastry

150g/5½oz plain flour

100g/3½oz cold butter, cut into cubes

1 free-range egg, beaten

For the bacon and egg filling

2 tbsp sunflower oil

4 thin rashers rindless streaky bacon, cut into 5cm/2in strips

2 free-range eggs, hard boiled, peeled

4 tbsp mayonnaise

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

6 quails’ eggs, hard boiled, peeled

Fresh rocket leaves (optional)

Cost: approx £11 (including muffin tray)

Top Tips 

  • Make sure your pastry is at least 4mm thick when you roll it out. Any thinner and the canapés are likely to crumble in your hands.
  • Put the pastry cases in the freezer for an hour prior to cooking. This helps the pastry to leaven properly and lets the gluten relax, so they are less likely to shrink in the oven.
  • Cover the eggs in cold water for a few seconds after boiling makes them easier to peel.

VERDICT: Finding quails eggs was a chore. The canapés tasted great and looked quirky, but it felt like a lot of effort for finger-food.

  • Recipe from The Hairy Bikers’ Christmas Party TV show.

Christmas Roast Turkey with Sage and Onion Stuffing

Jamie Oliver shows off his finely cooked bird for the festive season
Jamie Oliver shows off his finely cooked bird for the festive season

Ingredients (serves six)

5kg turkey, preferably free-range or organic

Olive oil

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 clementine, halved

A few sprigs fresh rosemary

2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped

2 sticks celery, roughly chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

For the stuffing

Olive oil

2 onions, peeled and finely chopped

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

A few sprigs fresh sage, leaves picked and roughly chopped

300g higher-welfare pork mince

1 large handful breadcrumbs

COST: £28

Top Tips

  • Buy a whole turkey instead of just the crown – some diners prefer a bit of leg to breast.
  • Carefully monitor the progress of your bird every 20 minutes or so during cooking. Jamie provides a decent guide, but different ovens or types of turkey may require more or less time in the oven than what is suggested.
  • Only put about half the stuffing inside the turkey cavity. Packing too much in can drastically increase the cooking time.
  • When you think the bird is ready stick a small sharp knife into the meat. If the juices run clear and the meat pulls apart easily you’re good to go.
  • Let the turkey rest for around half an hour before you carve by covering it with foil and a few clean tea towels. This will give you chance to get the meat and vegetables ready.

VERDICT: Jamie Oliver keeps things simple and traditional while adding a gourmet touch to a Christmas classic. Easy to follow instructions makes it easy to avoid a major disaster when cooking for large numbers – even for a complete novice.

  • Recipe from jamieoliver.com

See more food & drink stories here

Perfect Roast Potatoes

Top tatties – Nigella’s perfect potatoes
Top tatties – Nigella’s perfect potatoes

Ingredients 

640g goose fat

2.5kgs potatoes (such as King Edward’s or Yukon Gold)

2 tbsp semolina

COST: £5 approx (£2 for potatoes, £2.50 for goose fat, 50p for larder sundries)

Top Tips

  • Don’t cut the potatoes too small or they may break up on roasting.
  • Make sure when you parboil the potatoes you do it using salted cold water.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to preheat the oven so it’s really hot.
  • Preheat the fat for at least 20 minutes before adding the potatoes. 
  • Sprinkle with loads of Maldon sea salt or use peri peri seasoning to spice them up.

VERDICT: Really easy to do but be warned the kitchen does get a little smoky while cooking.

  • Recipe taken from Nigella Chrismas, RRP £26.

Hugh’s Sprouts with Bacon

Preparation’s what you need – sprouts boiling
Preparation’s what you need – sprouts boiling

Ingredients (serves six as a side, or two as a main)

500g brussels sprouts, trimmed

20g butter

2 tbsps double cream

4-6 rashers streaky bacon, each cut into 5-6 strips

1 tsp groundnut oil

200g peeled, cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped

Cost: £7.25

Top Tips

  • A decent quality food processor is mandatory to turn the sprouts into a nice purée rather than a chunky mess.
  • Start gently frying the bacon just as the sprouts are coming to the boil. That way everything should be finished at the same time.
  • Try using smoked streaky bacon to give the finished dish some extra flavour.

VERDICT: Easy to make as long as you can boil a pot of water and fry up some bacon. Nice – if a little sweet for my liking.

  • Recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage

Chocolate Orange Red Velvet Bombe

The Good Food chocolate orange and cranberry red velvet bombe
The Good Food chocolate orange and cranberry red velvet bombe

Ingredients (serves 15)

175g butter, very soft, plus extra for greasing

200g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

200g golden caster sugar

4 large eggs

2 tbsp cocoa

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1½ tsp baking powder

75g buttermilk

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 x 10g tubes red food colouring (make sure it’s a bake-safe variety – we used Dr. Oetker)

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

For the ganache and filling

450ml double cream

Zest 2 oranges

100g bar white chocolate,finely chopped

100g bar dark chocolate, finely chopped

200g bar milk chocolate, finely chopped

180g tub cream cheese

3 tbsp icing sugar

50g dried cranberries, plus extra to serve

sprinkles and edible glitter (optional), to decorate

COST: £27.98 (including cake tin)

Top Tips

  • Make sure you have the right gear before embarking on such a mammoth task. The lack of a cake tin – or two in this case – and an oversized pan severely hampered progress here.
  • If you’re planning on having a crack at this recipe keep a chunk of your day free – you’ll be kept busy for the best part of five hours on this little beauty.
  • Preparing this cake takes so much time and effort, yet it can be ruined in seconds if the filling is too runny. Use plenty of icing sugar to thicken it up. 
  • Scatter with dried cranberries, sprinkles and edible glitter on top of the finished cake for that extra bit of Christmas magic.

VERDICT: There are some very good ready-made cakes and desserts out there for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the effort. If you have a free afternoon and a love of baking then go for it – but I am afraid I’ll be on my way to the freezer aisle next time.

  • Recipe from BBC Good Food Magazine

Learn how to make the perfect mulled wine here

Classic Star Mince Pies

Eyes on the pies – Mary’s classic festive fancy
Eyes on the pies – Mary’s classic festive fancy

Ingredients (makes 18)

For the pastry:

175g plain flour

75g butter, cubed

25g icing sugar

Finely grated orange rind

1 egg, beaten 

About 350g mincemeat

1 egg, beaten, to glaze

Icing or caster sugar to dust

COST: £3 approx

Top Tips

  • Make sure you put plenty of flour on the work surface and rolling pin when rolling out the pastry or it will stick.
  • Grease the pie tin thoroughly before putting in the pies so you can remove them easily.
  • Brushing the pastry with a beaten egg glaze is essential to make them go golden. 
  • Keep an eye on them when cooking so they don’t burn

VERDICT: These were really quick, cheap and easy to make, although I didn’t manage to make 18.

  • Recipe from Mary Berry’s Christmas Collection RRP £20

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