Carrots, potatoes and sprouts
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.
2kg floury potatoes (Désirée or Rooster are the most reliable), peeled
100g fat: goose, chicken or beef, or oil
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.