How to make the ultimate Christmas dinner by TV’s top celebrity chefs

With the family on the way round to yours and the turkey looking a little cold – Christmas dinner can be daunting.

But fear not this festive period – help is on hand.

Some of the TV's top chefs from This Morning and Masterchef have got together to help you create the perfect Christmas meal.

This Morning's Phil Vickery is on hand to share his tips for the perfect turkey – sealing it well is the key – and he can also reveal the secrets to the best roast potatoes and gravy.

Masterchef's John Torode also gives you what you need for a great glazed ham while Gregg Wallace weighs in with a brilliant Chocolate Yule Log.

All you have to do is follow their tips… and stay off the sherry!

Phil Vickery’s Perfect Turkey

Key points:

The oven needs to be set to Gas 6 / 400 °F / 200 °C / 180 °C Fan

The tray needs to be filled with the right amount of liquid and brought to a rapid boil

Once REALLY well-sealed with foil (very important) the tray needs to boil rapidly for five minutes, before transferring to the preheated oven

Serves: 8-10

Prep Time: 25 mins

Ready in: approximately 2.5 hours


1 x 5 kg just under 12lb, Bronze turkey, with giblets and the wish bone removed.

2 large carrots, peeled

2 large onion, peeled

6 sticks of celery

1 leek

2 bay leaves

2 chicken stock cubes (optionally Gluten-Free stock cubes)

½ bottle dry white wine

2 pints cold water

salt and freshly ground black pepper

55g melted butter

2 tbsp roughly cornflour

4-6 tbsp cold water

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The oven needs to be set to Gas 6 / 400 °F / 200 °C / 180 °C Fan

The tray needs to be filled with the right amount of liquid and brought to a rapid boil

Once REALLY well sealed with foil (very important) the tray needs to boil rapidly for 5 minutes, before transferring to the preheated oven

Ovens vary so much, heat control, thermostats, fan assisted etc. so keep an eye on the cooking. I can only give you information based on my oven and experience, so be prepared for fluctuations in cooking and timings. But to the best of my ability I will be as precise as possible.

Preheat the oven to Gas 6 / 400 °F / 200 °C / 180 °C Fan

First job is to remove the giblets from the bird, and if you are using a frozen bird then make sure that it is fully defrosted

Season the bird well inside and out well with salt and pepper and pack the stuffing into the body cavity.(some suggested recipes at the bottom of this page)

Tie the legs and the parson’s nose together with a piece of string and secure well, so the stuffing is held inside the bird

Chop all the vegetables into large chunks and place in the bottom of a large baking tray place the turkey on top, the tray should be large enough so the bird has at least 2 inch (5cm) gap all around.

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Pour in the white wine, cold water and chicken stock cube, and place the whole tray on to the stove

Bring to the boil and cover tightly with two layers of foil and pop into a preheated oven

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT POINT Simmer for 5 minutes, covered to get the steam and heat going!

Cook the bird for about 2 hours, approximately. (See table below for your turkey size). To check if the bird is cooked, remove from the oven carefully as there will be a lot of stock, wine and turkey juices.

Remove the foil and insert a knife where the thigh attaches itself to the body of the bird, the juices should run clear. If not, then cover again with foil and cook for a further 20 minutes

When the bird is cooked, remove from the oven, turn the oven up to Gas 8 / 450 °F / 230 °C / 210 °C Fan

Tip off the juices for the gravy, then brush the bird well with melted butter or oil and return to the oven to brown beautifully (See table below for your turkey size)

Once browned, remove from oven and wrap in a double layer of foil then 2 clean tea towels, this should keep warm for up to 1 hour

To serve:

Re-boil the stock and juices, you may need to add a little more water in a saucepan and skim well.

The timings

Phil says: At this time of year, I always get lots of questions from people worrying about their turkey, so, here are a few of my top tips to help you relax and have a stress-free Christmas.

What size turkey do I need?

Allow 500g / 1lb of meat on the bone for each person, this will give you enough for a meal with some left over.

6-8 people: 4kg (8lbs 13oz) turkey

10 people: 5kg (11lbs) turkey

12 people: 6kg (13lbs 4oz) turkey

Make sure you have a roasting tray big enough for your bird and that it will fit in your oven.


How long to defrost a frozen turkey?

At a cool room temperature (no more than 17.5°C), it will take about 2 hours for every 450g / 16oz

How do I calculate the cooking time?

My method is different from traditional methods and has a unique set of steps for preparation and cooking. If you follow these simple steps closely you will get a perfectly cooked succulent turkey in just a couple of hours.

Stuffed turkey cooking times

Turkey crown cooking times:

These times are approximate, so be aware.

Do I need to rest the turkey?

Absolutely YES, resting time is the real key to a succulent turkey; it allows the meat to relax making it tender and juicy, and to finish cooking. I have found 1 hour is the ideal length of time to rest if you wrap it in foil and importantly it frees up your oven to cook everything else.

Phil Vickery’s roast potatoes

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Serves: 6-8

Phil says” “Chefs can’t cook roast potatoes, this is Fern’s recipe with a tweak here and there. Drain well, then cook in very hot dripping or goose or duck fat, and only turn them once. That really is it!.”



1 kg peeled potatoes – Rooster or Maris Piper are good roasters

200g good beef dripping, duck, goose fat or lard

Salt and freshly milled black pepper

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Preheat the oven to 200C/ Gas 7

Place a pan of cold water on the stove and bring to the boil, add salt and re boil. Pop in the potatoes cut into large quarters. Bring back to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the outsides start to fall away and carefully drain.

Place the dripping in a baking tray, pop into the hot oven and heat for 10 minutes, or until just smoking

When drained, remove the tray from the oven carefully, add the potatoes to the hot fat, season well with salt and pepper and pop into the oven. Cook for 35-40 minutes.

When the bottoms are very crisp and golden, turn over and return to the oven and cook for a further 35-40 minutes, until both sides are crisp and golden

The inside will be soft and powdery with two crunchy edges, perfect!.

Serve piping hot.

John Torode’s Glazed Ham

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Serves: 10-15


You will need: 1 large baking tray, 1 medium heavy based pan brush

1 large ham on the bone, approx 6-8 kg

12 whole cloves

300g soft brown sugar

100mls maple syrup

200g apricot jam

100mls brandy

100g Dijon mustard

Preheat the oven to 160oc


Place the leg of ham, rind on (smoked ham) in the pan on a cake rack or trivet and pour in 2 cups of warm water, cover the whole thing tightly with greaseproof paper and then wrap in foil.

Place in the oven and cook for 3 hours reducing the heat to 150 for the last hour.

In a solid based pan place the maple syrup and the brown sugar and bring to the boil add the brandy and flame, add 20 ml water.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

In a bowl mix the mustard with the apricot jam.

Mix the cooled sugar mix with the apricot mustard.

Remove the ham from the oven and carefully open.

Beware of the steam and now remove the rind from the ham by placing a sharp knife under it at the opposite end to the knuckle bone, gently lifting it away from the fat.

Try to keep as much fat on the leg so that it will stay moist and protect it.

Decorate the ham by scoring the fat with a knife to make large diamond shapes, taking the knife from one corner to the other perpendicularly.

And repeating the process on the other side, then making incisions 4 cm apart parallel to the first two.

Place a clove in the corner of each diamond.

Brush with the sugar mixture pushing it in well

Place the ham bake in the roasting tin on a trivet, over the water.

Turn the oven up to 180oc.

Bake the ham for 60 minutes basting every 20 minutes until well coloured.

Serve hot or cold.

John Torode’s Chestnut and Bacon Stuffing

There are two schools of thought on stuffing, one is that the stuffing should be put in the neck end of the bird, near the wishbone.

The other is that the stuffing should be cooked separately. Personally, I agree with the latter, because the type of stuffing I prefer is quite dense and doesn’t necessarily cook well inside the bird.

Also, stuffing slows the roasting time. Cooking the stuffing separately puts you in control of the cooking time, and results in crispy topping and sides and a lovely moist centre.

You can make this good old-fashioned chestnut and bacon stuffing the day before roasting.


50g butter

1 large red onion, diced

100g bacon, roughly chopped

200g cooked chestnuts, finely chopped

150g fresh breadcrumbs

grated zest of 1 lemon

1 handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped

salt and pepper


In a frying pan, melt the butter over a high heat and add a pinch of salt and two grinds from the pepper mill.

Add the onion and cook until translucent. Add the bacon and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring often so not to burn the onion.

Add the chestnuts, then remove from the heat and add the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and parsley.

Taste and if necessary, add more salt and pepper so that it is seasoned thoroughly.

Grease a 30 x 10 cm ovenproof dish and spoon the stuffing in (don’t pat it down).

Cook at 200’C (gas 6) for about 40 minutes until crisp on top, then serve with your roast dinner.

John Torode’s Turkey Gravy

The best gravy is always made from the roasting tin of the best roast turkey.

To be successful you need to take the turkey out when it has cooled a little and carefully drain any juice from it (as above) – you can also prick the underside of the roast turkey a few times to drain out any of the good stuff.

Drain off most of the fat but be sure to leave some, then put the roasting tin over a medium heat and add two dessert spoons of flour.

Stir well and let it cook for a few minutes, then add a couple of pinches of salt and a little pepper.

Take a good litre of water and add half to the roasting tin, stirring well.

Bring to the boil, scraping all the caramelised bits off the bottom of the tin, and making sure there are no lumps.

Add the rest of the water (you may need some more, that’s fine) and bring the gravy to the boil again.

Cook for a few minutes more, stirring and stirring. Poor the gravy into a warmed jug and serve. That's it – the first thing I learned to cook, aged five.

John Torode – My Kind of Food: Recipes I Love to Cook at Home by John Torode (Headline, £27) is out now

Marcus Wareing’s Roast Carrots

Serves: 6

Preparation time: 10 minutes

20 minutes

30ml olive oil

6 large carrots, halved

25g unsalted butter, diced

4 sprigs of thyme

1 star anise

½ tsp sea salt

1 Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7. Put the oil in a roasting tray and place in the oven to heat up for 5 minutes.

2 Add the carrots cut-side down to the hot tray. Toss in the remaining ingredients and roast for 20 minutes, until the carrots are golden and soft.

Extracted from Marcus at Home by Marcus Wareing, with photography Jonathan Gregson (HarperCollins, £25)

Marcus Wareing’s Pancetta-wrapped sprouts

Serves: 6

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes


300g Brussels sprouts

150g pancetta slices

2 tbsp vegetable oil

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil.

Add the sprouts, return to the boil and cook for 1 minute.

Drain and put into ice-cold water for about 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry with a clean tea towel.

Wrap each sprout in the pancetta, trimming the slices if the sprouts are small.

Place in the fridge if you are not cooking them straight away.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat.

Fry the sprouts in the oil until heated through and the pancetta is golden. Drain on kitchen paper and serve hot.

Extracted from Marcus at Home by Marcus Wareing, with photography Jonathan Gregson (HarperCollins, £25)

Gino D’Acampo’s Italian Christmas pudding

It’s an Italian dessert that’s surprisingly easy to put together, but guaranteed to impress the whole dinner table on Christmas day.


500ml double cream

100g icing sugar

150g good quality chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped

150g hazelnuts, roughly chopped

200ml Marsala wine

750g large Panettone

150ml cold water

cocoa powder, to decorate



Pour the cream into a large bowl, sift in the icing sugar and whip until fluffy. Add the chocolate, hazelnuts and 2tbsp of Marsala, then refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Line a 2 litre bowl with a large sheet of cling film, allowing it to overhang the sides. Cut the panettone into 1.5cm slices and use then to line the bowl. Reserve those you don’t need for a lid.

Pour the remaining Marsala and the cold water into a separate bowl. Brush three-quarters of this liquid evenly over the sponge.

Pour the cream mixture into the sponge-lined bowl and gently tap it on the work surface to release any air bubbles. Cover the top with the remaining panettone slices and brush with the remaining Marsala mixture.

Cover the bowl with the overhanging clingfilm and freeze over night

Transfer to the fridge at least 1 hour before serving

Invert the cake onto a plate, dust with sifted cocoa powder and serve

Watch Gino cook his panforte on This Morning, tomorrow from 10:30am on ITV

Gregg Wallace’s Chocolate Yule Log

For the cake:

3 eggs

85g golden caster sugar

85g plain flour (less 2 tbsp)

2 tbsp cocoa powder

½ tsp baking powder

For the buttercream:

6 medium egg whites

350g caster sugar

500g warm unsalted butter

Few drops of vanilla extract

200g dark chocolate

You will also need:

28 x 38 cm swiss roll tin, greased and lined with baking parchment

Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Beat the eggs and sugar together with an electric whisk until thick and creamy.

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder onto the egg mixture. Fold in very carefully, then pour into the tin. Tip the tin to spread the mixture into the corners. Bake for 10 mins or until it is just firm to touch in the centre.

Turn the sponge out onto a sheet of baking parchment on the work surface. Peel off the lining paper, then roll the cake up from its longest edge with the paper inside. Leave to cool completely.

To make the buttercream, place the egg whites and caster sugar in a bowl and place over the top of a pan of just simmering water. Stir until the sugar just dissolves.

Whisk the egg white and sugar mixture until it’s cold and forms stiff peaks, then gradually whisk in the butter. Keep whisking until the mixture in smooth, then beat in the vanilla.

Divide the buttercream in two and stir the chocolate into one half.

Unroll the cake and remove the paper, spread the vanilla buttercream over the cake and roll it back up.

Cut a thick diagonal slice from one end of the log. Lift the log on to a plate, then arrange the slice Use a palette knife to spread the chocolate buttercream over the log, then draw a fork over the top to make the bark.

Monica Galetti's spiced eggnog

Serves: 4–5

600ml whole milk

400ml whipping cream

1 vanilla pod, split lengthways

3 cinnamon sticks

1 tsp grated nutmeg,

plus extra to serve

6 eggs, separated

140g caster sugar, plus 2 tbsp

for the egg whites

200ml dark rum

Pour the milk and cream into a saucepan, scrape the vanilla seeds into the mixture, and add the vanilla pod, cinnamon sticks and nutmeg.

Slowly bring to the boil, then remove from the heat, cover with cling film and set aside for 10 minutes to infuse.

Meanwhile, put the egg yolks and sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk until thick ribbons form.

Strain the milk and cream mixture and gradually add to the egg yolk mixture, whisking slowly as you do so. Add the rum and keep in the fridge until needed.

When ready to serve, whisk the egg whites with the 2 tbsp sugar until soft peaks form.

Blend the eggnog mixture to lighten, then fold in the egg whites, grate some fresh nutmeg over the top and serve.

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