Christmas Tips from Robert Stacey
"Simplicity is Robert’s motto"
Pulling off Christmas Dinner is a feat all home cooks dream of. We all remember the meals of our childhood, huddled round candlelit tables, everyone merry from one too many festive sherries, but for those cooking the meal, 25th of December can often be a touch more stressful. It doesn’t have to be that way, and Robert Stacey, head chef at The Plough at Lupton has shared his most successful tips.
The trick in pulling off a flawless Christmas meal lies in preparation. “I have two little girls I want to spend the day with,” Robert says. “I don’t want to be away in the kitchen while they’re making memories.” So that Robert can spend as much of the day as possible with family, he makes sure that many of his Christmas dishes are made in advance. “Creating a timetable for the day is key. I work out when we will be sitting down to eat, and then work backwards. That way I know when the turkey is going in the oven and when I need to put the vegetables on, and I don’t even need to think about it.
“I like to make as many of the dishes I’m going to serve as possible – try to make a good stock in the week leading up to the big day and finish it off with all the lovely roasting juices from the bird. You can keep gravies for about a week in the fridge, but they last for around three months in the freezer. I also try to prep my vegetables the night before too. Carrots, potatoes and parsnips can all be chopped and peeled in advance and stored in the fridge with a little water, meaning they’re ready to go when you need to put them in the oven.”
Keeping dishes simple is another of Robert’s secrets of success: “I know that Brussel sprouts really divide people, but I love them. I mix peeled sprouts in a bowl with olive oil, salt and pepper then roast them for 35-40 minutes, until they’re crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Before serving I sprinkle a little extra salt, and they’re good to go.”
Simplicity is Robert’s motto when it comes to Christmas. “Don’t worry about serving a complicated starter,” he says. “Just serve up a great charcuterie board – nuts, cheese, good olives, meats and figs with champagne, Prosecco or wine. Everyone can sit and catch up with each other and relax into the day.”
If all else fails though, Robert recommends heading to a great restaurant so they can do the hard work for you. The Plough at Lupton is serving a delicious seven-course menu which is filled with the best, local produce on offer – and the best part? No dishes!
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