Not content with soggy sprouts, watery gravy or dry turkey? Nor should you be! Whether an aspiring Heston or master of the microwave here are my tips for making your festive food the best it can be.
My first piece of advice is pay for quality not quantity. When it comes to meat you really do get what you pay for, so instead of overloading the shopping trolley with mountains of discount food consider what you need and buy accordingly. It may seem an expensive outlay but take it from me, it will go further and be much tastier!
Secondly, remember planning is key! The art of a good Christmas dinner is timing so write down how long things take and what place they have in the cooker. Remember meat always needs time to rest to allow the juices to settle and the flavour to develop, some this should give sufficient time for vegetable cooking and the refining of titbits. Never carve a turkey straight from the oven. It needs at least 30-60 mins resting time covered in foil.
Before all of this choose your menu. Although the popular frontrunner for Christmas Day, turkey also competes with goose and other fowl favourites such as three bird roasts for centre stage. Buy fresh from a reputable butcher to understand the heritage of the bird and cooking/serving requirements.
Choosing frozen imported birds will mean they are stuffed with water and when cooked will massively reduce in size and dry out. Also don't stick your bird straight into the oven from the fridge - allow it to rest and reach room temperature before the cooking process starts.
When roasting, to avoid your bird from drying out there are a number of tips I would recommend. Choose two birds or meat joints to roast for the big day instead of a large one alone. Continually baste the bird in its own juices while cooking and allow plenty of resting time before carving and most importantly, avoid over-cooking - weigh your bird and effectively plan timings before it enters the oven! If you don't already have one, now is the time to invest in a meat thermometer. They're inexpensive and are the best way of ensuring the bird stays succulent.
Looking for something a bit different this year? Duck, beef and venison are all tasty alternatives which have the treat factor we come to expect on Christmas Day. With its velvety texture and rich flavour, duck is well complemented with festive spices such as cinnamon, cloves and star anise alongside an orange jus.
Venison a lean and versatile meat can be simply roasted or even used in a wellington using the loin with any sinew removed. If opting for a beef centrepiece then choose rib of beef on the bone. Slow roasted to perfection, the bone will add flavour to the joint and keep the meat moist.
When it comes to the trimmings don't forget the pigs in blankets and sausage meat stuffing balls - again choose good quality British streaky back bacon, chipolatas and stuffing meat. Goose or duck fat makes the best roasties and liven up your sprouts with a helping of pancetta.
One of my favourite suppertime meats on Christmas day is a baked ham. Great with a selection of pickles or in a humble sandwich some of the best recipes include slow cooking in fizzy drinks, like Nigella's in cola. For best results choose a piece of ham with the bone in and slow cook overnight - that means it won't be using up much-needed oven space on the big day but will be perfectly cooked and rested for the evening buffet or even better, morning breakfast!