Season's Eatings: Christmas Cooking Tips and Advice
Some of our favourite restaurants, cafes and shops offer their festive wisdom on how to make the most of your Christmas dinner
Christmas is an endless tidal wave of tinsel, pine trees, afternoon drinking and frankly ludicrous levels of dining. It's also an extremely fraught time for the nation's amateur and professional cooks; the pros are trying to keep endless Christmas nights out happy, the amateurs are trying to outdo their friends and impress their families without setting themselves ablaze in the process.
Rush to the shops, rush home to cook a three-course meal you make once a year, panic a few times, shut yourself in the kitchen and power through... then when it's all done, there's inevitably piles and piles of stuff leftover. You can't face the same meal again the day after Christmas, so you'll need some new ideas for how to make the most of that pile of excess sweet and savoury. What's that sound you hear tumbling down the chimney? It's The Skinny, here to deliver some ideas on how to do good Christmas food!
We've been in touch with some of our favourite shops, cafes and restaurants to get their advice on levelling up your Christmas food, from how to properly cook a turkey to tips on how to make your selection boxes last into 2020...
Reuben Chesters, Locavore
"At Christmas I'd ask people to think about their food choices even more than usual. Skip the profiteering supermarkets and their fancy marketing campaigns and instead head over to local farms and independent retailers. Seek out local, organic, sustainably sourced ingredients this year to support a better world and share that Christmas cheer locally rather than putting a jingle in the pockets of fat cats." 349 Victoria Rd, Glasgow, christmas.glasgowlocavore.org
Jason Gallagher, The Stockbridge Restaurant
"I absolutely swear by prepping the day before; do as much as possible so that you can enjoy Christmas day with your family. Parboil your potatoes, carrot and parsnip and then plunge them in cold water to stop them from cooking. Store the vegetables in the fridge so they are ready to roast the next day." 54 St Stephen St, Edinburgh, thestockbridgerestaurant.co.uk
Kaori Simpson, Harajuku Kitchen
"Add a Japanese twist to your Christmas day. You could start with serving some roasted turkey yakitori (grilled and skewered meat) with a teriyaki glaze. I like to put a Japanese spin on Christmas by making a matcha salt; all you need is some sea salt and combine it with matcha powder. It goes lovely with stuffing." 10 Gillespie Pl, Edinburgh, harajukukitchen.co.uk
Roberta Hall-McCarron, The Little Chartroom
"Chestnuts are underrated, they are a tasty addition to your Christmas roast. If you want to add chestnuts to your dinner, try a chestnut puree. Chop up a couple of shallots, sweat them down and add some chopped chestnuts. Cover with chicken stock, bring to a boil and then blitz until smooth; it really complements the roasties." 30 Albert Pl, Edinburgh, thelittlechartroom.com
Paul Wedgwood, Wedgwood the Restaurant
"The white breast meat is the biggest culprit for a dry turkey; to avoid over-cooking remove the legs at the joint and put them in the oven, giving the darker meat a head start on the rest of the bird. Stuffing a turkey can also cause it to go dry. You need air circulation in the cavity to help the bird cook quicker and more evenly. The cavity space can be loosely filled, still allowing air flow, with aromatic herbs and vegetables, like rosemary, garlic and shallots which will add flavour to the turkey meat." 267 Canongate, Edinburgh, wedgwoodtherestaurant.co.uk
Hollie Love Reid, Lovecrumbs and Nice Times Bakery
"Growing up my mother would take all of the leftovers from Christmas dinner, mix them all up in a big bowl then use this as a pie filling for Christmas Parcels (their official name in the Love Reid household). We'd eat them on Boxing Day with brown sauce and lots of peas in garlic butter. She would make extra to stick in the freezer so we could relive the joy of Christmas dinner right into the New Year; now we cook double Christmas dinner so we have plenty of filling for extra Christmas Parcels.
"You can use shop-bought pastry for easiness (no judgement from us) but if you fancied some casual Boxing Day baking then you can use this super easy galette recipe:
"Chop up all your leftovers – we always have roast potatoes, carrots and parsnips, chicken (yep), haggis, pigs in blankets and stuffing – mix in the pan you cooked your chicken in to get it all juicy, drown it in gravy and let it all soak in.
Mix up 250g spelt and 100g plain flour with a sprinkle of sea salt. Tip out on to a table and add 200g of very cold cubed butter. Rolling pin it into the flour to get long slithers of butter. Put into a bowl with 100g crème fraiche, spoon it together and book fold it a few times to bring the dough together into a dry crumbly mess. Chill then roll into rough, paper thin circles, heap on some leftover filling and tuck it into a little nest. Egg wash and bake in a preheated 180 degree oven." 155 West Port & 22 St Stephen St, Edinburgh, lovecrumbs.co.uk; instagram.com/nicetimesbakery
Carla and Bal Sandhu, Comet Pieces
"Obviously we are going to suggest getting Morton's rolls in and making a Christmas dinner roll for breakfast/brunch with the leftovers. Our other tip would be to focus on buying quality ingredients from the butcher and seasoning well with salt, pepper and butter. No complicated recipes necessary – let the produce speak for itself." 150 Queen Margaret Dr, Glasgow, cometpieces.co.uk
Jade Johnston, Aizle and Noto
"Use all your leftover trimmings to make your own sausage rolls. All you need is some puff pastry, leftovers from Christmas day and some sage and onion. If you want to spice it up, add some tikka powder." 107-109 St. Leonard's St, Edinburgh, aizle.co.uk; 47a Thistle St, Edinburgh, notoedinburgh.co.uk
Larah Bross, Bross Bagels
Larah Bross has designed a festive-inspired bagel which she loves to do on Boxing Day. It’s called the Wobble & Gobble and complete with all your favourite leftovers and is basically Christmas dinner in a bagel.
To make the Wobble & Gobble, you'll need leftover turkey, cranberry cheddar (melted), leftover brussels sprouts & bacon (turned into a slaw), a latke, and mayo with your leftover roasted garlic and rosemary added in. Oh, and a bagel. 165a Bruntsfield Pl, 19 Queensferry St, 105 Leith Walk and 186 Portobello High St, Edinburgh, brossbagels.com
Louise Campbell, Tasty Buns
"If you get gifted too many Christmas Chocolate selection boxes – chop them up, pop them in some bags and pop them in the freezer. Pull them out later when you need something sweet to pop through your cookie dough. Not had time to make your own mincemeat in time for Christmas? You can easily perk up the shop-bought stuff – in a mixing bowl, add a couple of tablespoons of a booze of your choice (we like brandy and Amaretto) and some freshly zested lemon rind which will give it a more zesty, punchier flavour. Pop it back in the jar to mature for a few days. Yum." 67 Bread St, Edinburgh, facebook.com/TastyBunsBakeryEdinburgh