Car­rots, pota­toes and sprouts

The Daily Telegraph - Saturday - - COVER STORY -

I’m go­ing to be con­tro­ver­sial here. The turkey isn’t the most im­por­tant part of the Christ­mas din­ner. No, the whole feast rests on how crunchy the roasties are. But I can’t be do­ing with mess­ing around with trays of hot oil when there is so much else to think about, not least small chil­dren li­able to make a break for the kitchen at any mo­ment. Spud sal­va­tion came in J Kenji López-Alt’s bril­liant book, The Food Lab (a great present for any food nerd), where he ex­plains how pota­toes can be pre­pared the day be­fore. I’ve adapted his method be­low.

As for sprouts, I wouldn’t usu­ally cook my greens the day be­fore, but if there is a full house for Christ­mas then they do fine blanched, cooled and then re­heated in lots of savoury but­ter the next day.

Stir in the bread­crumbs and cook, stir­ring of­ten, un­til they are dry and crisp. Stir in the thyme and lemon zest, then scrape into a box. Seal and store in the fridge for up to a week.

Trim the sprouts and cut them in half. Tip into a pan of very well salted boil­ing wa­ter and boil for one minute. Drain and cool thor­oughly un­der the tap (or in a bowl of ice wa­ter). This can be done ear­lier in the day.

In the rinsed-out fry­ing pan, melt 60g but­ter with the rest of the Mar­mite. Toss the sprouts in the but­ter un­til they are heated through and well-coated. Serve the sprouts with the crumbs scat­tered over.

IN­GRE­DI­ENTS

2kg floury pota­toes (Désirée or Rooster are the most re­li­able), peeled

100g fat: goose, chicken or beef, or oil

METHOD

Cut the pota­toes into halves or quar­ters, even if they are small: flat edges brown best. Drop into a large pan of well-salted boil­ing wa­ter. Boil for five min­utes or un­til soft on the out­side but not col­laps­ing.

Drain well in a colan­der, Don’t for­get Christ­mas break­fast. The day be­fore is a good time to whip up a batch of bat­ter for thick, blini-style pan­cakes. It’ll rest nicely overnight, ready to cook up and eat with smoked salmon, sour cream and dill. Or peel and seg­ment a cou­ple of grape­fruits and store in a plas­tic box in the fridge. On Christ­mas morn­ing, toast slices of panet­tone and serve with a scoop of ri­cotta cheese, grape­fruit seg­ments and a trickle of honey.

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