Mark Doe’s Tips For Delicious Christmas Dinner

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Mark Doe of Just Cooking cookery school in Firies has some tips on how to deliver an amazing Christmas dinner tomorrow…

The key to a stress free Christmas lunch is preparation and timing. You want to be able to enjoy the day without being tied to the stove all day long. In this article you will learn some tips to make your Christmas lunch as stress free as possible.

Turkey gravy

Serves 8-10


• 25g plain flour 600ml of chicken stock

• 2 tablespoons of red currant jelly Salt and pepper


• Pour off the turkey juices into a bowl and allow too cool.
• Remove any fat from the top of the juices with a spoon or ladle.
• Remove the turkey from the roasting tray, and place the turkey on a medium heat.
• Add the flour and cook for 2-3 minute, stirring well to scrape the sediment form the tray and allowing the flour ro colour slightly.
• Gradually pour in the stock whisking well.
• Add the redcurrant jelly, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-3 minutes.
• Add the juices from the turkey, bring back to the boil and season with salt and pepper.

Continued below…


Wines for Christmas Lunch

It’s Christmas and why not push the boat out by treating yourself and your loved ones to some bubbly?

There are often good deals on champagne in the weeks prior to the festive season but there are other sparkling options.

Prosecco from Italy, Spanish cava and German Sekt are reliable and often cheaper than champgane. Have it with a cold starter or smoked salmon or just enjoy on its own as an aperitif or post lunch indulgence.

If, like most people, you are opting for the traditional turkey and ham combination on Christmas Day, there are a variety of suitable wines to choose from.

Like chicken, turkey pairs well with either red or white wines. If you like red, consider soft gentle Pinot Noirs either from Burgundy (pricey but worth it) or the New World (New Zealand and Australia do some lovely Pinots.)

If you are on a budget then Beaujolais is good as are Merlots from Chile or South Africa. Chianti from Italy is also reasonably priced.

If white is more your scene, then why not a Chardonnay from Chile, Australia or California? Other suitable whites would be a French Viognier, Riesling or Sémillon.


Perfect Roast Turkey

As a rule a 7kg (14-15lb) turkey will feed 10-12 people with left over.


• 1 x 7kg Turkey (14-15lb) 175g unsalted butter (soft)

• 1 Lemon, cut in half 1 large onion, peeled

• 2-3 bay leafs 4 garlic cloves cut in 1/2

• Few sprigs of fresh rosemary or thyme Salt and pepper

• 200ml white wine stuffing,


• Pre-heat your oven to 220c/Gas mark 7
• Remove the giblets from the turkey.
• Season the butter well with salt and pepper.
• Use your hands to loosen the turkey skin away from the breast, and spread          the butter under the skin.
• Now stuff the neck end of the turkey with some of the stuffing.
• Stuff the cavity of the turkey with the lemon, onion, garlic, bay leafs and rosemary or thyme.
• Place the turkey into a roasting tray. Pour 100ml of water into the tray.
• Loosely wrap the turkey, ensuring the parcel is tightly sealed.
• Place in the oven and cook for 40 minutes at the high temperature.
• After 40 minutes, reduce the temperature to 170c/gas mark 3 and cook for a further 3 ¼   hours.
• After the 3 ¼ remove the foil from the turkey and increase the oven temperature to 200c/gas mark 6 and give the turkey a final 30 minutes, basting the trurkey occasionally. This will ensure the turkey has a lovely golden colour.
• After the 30 minutes, pierce the thickest part of the turkey leg with a small knife and check that the juices run clear.
• Remove the turkey from the oven, wrap the tray lightly with foil and allow the turkey to rest for 30-40 minutes.
• Cooking times for other size turkeys
• 8-10 lb (3.5-4.5 kg) – 30 minutes at the high temperature, then 2 ½   hours at the lower temperature, then a final 30 minutes (uncovered) at gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
• 15-20 lb (6.75-9 kg) – 40 minutes at the high temperature, then 4 ¼  hours at the lower temperature, then a final 30 minutes (uncovered) at gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
Please bear in mind that ovens, and turkeys vary and the only way of knowing if a bird is ready is by using the test described above.

• Christmas tip— Before roasting, remove the wish bone of the turkey. This makes carving the turkey easier.

Continued below…


Smoked bacon, sage and cranberry stuffing

Makes enough stuffing for a 7kg (14-15lb) turkey. This stuffing is for cooking inside the turkey or roasting as individual balls of stuffing.


• 500g sausage meat 300g fresh breadcrumbs

• 300g cooked chestnuts, roughly chopped 150g butter

• 2 large onions, chopped           100g dried cranberries, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

• 250g smoked bacon, chopped A good pinch of dried sage


1.  Melt the butter in a pan and add bacon and add the onions, cranberries, dried sage and smoked bacon.

2.  Slowly cook, without colouring, until soft (approx 5-6minutes).

3.  Add the chestnuts and breadcrumbs and mix through well.

4.  Remove form the heat and allow too cool slightly.

5.  Mix through the sausage meat and season with salt and pepper.

Mini prawn and crab cocktails

Serves 8 as a light starter


• For the marie rose sauce

• 4 tbsp mayonnaise

• 3 tbsp tomato ketchup

• 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

• juice and zest 1 lemon

• pinch of cayenne

For the tomato salsa

• 4 tomatoes, deseeded and finelychopped

• 1 small red onion, finely diced

• 1½ tbsp Tabasco

To serve

• 3 Little Gem lettuces, leaves separated

• 300g cooked and peeled prawns

• 200g white crabmeat

• ½ bunch chives, snipped

• lemon wedges to serve


• Mix together all the ingredients for the Marie Rose sauce and set aside in the fridge. Do the same with the tomato salsa ingredients. These can be chilled for up to 24 hrs.
• Arrange the lettuce leaves, prawns, crab and chives in separate bowls. Put everything on the table with a pile of lemon wedges.
• At the table, add some prawns and crab to the lettuce leaves, spoon over some tomato salsa and Marie Rose sauce, and scatter over a few chives. Squeeze over a little lemon juice, if you like.

Goose fat roast potatoes

Serves 8

Duck or goose fat is available form most supermarkets and is the best fat to use for roast potatoes.


• 2kg potatoes, peeled and cut to size (approx the size of an egg) 2tbsp flour

• 5 tbsp duck fat or sunflower oil salt and pepper


• Place a large pan of salted water on the stove and bring to the boil.
• Add the potatoes, bring back to the boil and cook for 7 minutes.
• Drain the potatoes really well and sprinkle over the flour.
• Season with the salt and pepper. Place a lid back on the pan and give the pan a few hard shakes.
• Heat the oven to 200c fan. Spoon the fat into a large roasting tray and place in the oven for 6 minutes.
• Carefully pull out the tray and add the potatoes, giving them a couple of turns.
• Roast the potatoes for 40 minutes, turning a few times,  until golden and crisp.

Honey roast vegetables with balsamic vinegar

Serves 6


• 500g parsnips 500g carrots

• 500g turnip or celeriac 4 tbsp honey

• Pinch of dried mixed herbs Salt and pepper

• 4 tbsp of sunflower oil 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar


• Preheat the oven to 200c fan.
• Quarter the parsnips lengthwise and remove the woody core from the centre.
• Cut the carrots and turnip or celeriac into wedges approx the same size as the parsnips.
• Place in a roasting tray and drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the dried herbs. Stir to coat the vegetables with the oil.
• Cook in the oven for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally until tender.
• Remove from the oven, drizzle with the honey and balsamic and return to the oven for 2 minutes.

Chef’s tip — Try and purchase smaller parsnips as they tend to not be so woody.

Brussels sprouts with hazlenuts

Serves 6

• 1kg Brussels sprouts 1 tbsp unsalted butter

• 50 toasted, chopped hazlenuts Salt and pepper


• Trim the sprouts and boil in salted water for 6-8 minutes then drain well.
• Heat the butter in a frying pan until foamingAdd the sprouts, and hazlenuts, and season with salt and pepper.
• Reduce to a medium heat & cook, stirring, for a further 2 minutes. Serve

Glazed ham

Serves 10-12


• 3 kg piece of boned ham(boiled) Cloves for studding

• 120ml of orange juice 100g brown sugar

• 50ml Dijon mustard 75ml honey


• Preheat the oven to 180c.
• Remove some of the fat from the ham and discard. Score the fat in a diamond pattern then stud a clove in the middle of each diamond.
• Place the ham in a roasting tray and add a liitle water to the tray.
• To make the glaze, place the orange juice, honey, sugar and mustard in a small saucepan over a medium heat.
• Simmer, stirring occasionally for 10-12 minutes until thickened.
• Brush the ham with the glaze and bake for 10 minutes.
• Glaze again and bake for another 10 minutes.
• Repeat and bake for a final 10 minutes.
• Allow the ham, to rest for 5 minutes and then carve.

A larger ham may require more time. Plan ahead and boil the ham on Christmas eve. Allow to cool and store in the fridge. Roast the ham on Christmas day.

Mulled wine

Try this mulled wine to warm up your guests. The smell of the mulled wine in your home creates a real Christmas spirit.

Serves 12


• 2 bottles of full bodied red wine (Cabernet Sauvignon is ideal)

• 1 litre of water

• 1 orange stuck with 8 cloves

• 2 oranges sliced

• 2 lemons sliced

• 6 table spoons of granulated sugar

• 2 inch piece of cinnamon

• 2 teaspoons of ground ginger

• 2 wine glasses of port (optional)


• Heat all the ingredients in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved.
• Leave on a low heat for 20 minutes, barely simmering.
• Serve.

Left over turkey stroganoff

Serves 4

Fed up with turkey sandwiches? Try this simple stroganoff for a tasty Stephens day treat.
Serve with rice or noodles.


• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• Small knob of butter
• 1 onion finely sliced
• 200g button mushrooms, finely sliced
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• ½ tbsp paprika
• 700g leftover cooked turkey, cut into strips
• 200ml Left over turkey gravy
• 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
• 200ml cream
• 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
• Chopped parsley to serve
• salt and pepper


• Add the oil and butter to a heavy based frying pan, and place over a medium heat.
• Heat until the butter froths and then add the onions.
• Cook the onions for 3-4 minutes until soft.
• Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a further 3 minutes.
• Now stir in the paprika and cook for a further 1 minute.
• Add the turkey meat and gravy and bring to the boil.
• Add the white wine vinegar, Pour in the cream bring to the boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until piping hot.
• Stir in the mustard and parsley, season with salt and pepper.
• Serve with crusty bread and rice.

Tirimisu trifle with Baileys

• whole milk 500ml

• cornflour 40g

• caster sugar 200g

• vanilla bean paste or extract 1 tsp

• eggs 3, large

• amaretti biscuits 25g, crushed


• dark chocolate 100g, 50g chopped and 50g shaved, to serve

• sea salt flakes a pinch


• mascarpone 75g

• Baileys (or Irish cream liqueur) 50ml


• chocolate swiss roll 1 large (homemade or shop-bought)

• strong coffee 100ml, hot

• amaretto 2-4 tbsp, (depending on how boozy you like it)


• soft light brown sugar 2 tbsp

• instant espresso powder 2 tsp

• double cream 450ml


To make the custard, put the whole milk in a large pan over a medium heat and bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, put the cornflour, caster sugar, vanilla and eggs into a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour the hot milk over the egg mixture, whisking together.

Pour the custard back into the pan and cook gently, whisking constantly, until thickened. Divide the custard equally between 2 bowls.

To one, add the 50g chopped dark chocolate and sea salt, whisking until the chocolate has melted. To the second, add the mascarpone and Baileys, whisking until evenly combined. Press a sheet of clingfilm onto the surface of the custards to stop skins forming and chill for a few hours.

When ready to assemble, slice the swiss roll into 2cm-thick slices. Mix the hot coffee and the amaretto. Quickly dip one side of the slices of swiss roll into the coffee mixture and use to line the sides of a trifle bowl. Take the remaining slices and break into pieces, filling the bottom of the bowl.

Drizzle over the remaining coffee mixture. Spread the Baileys custard over the base, followed by a layer of crushed amaretti biscuits and then the chocolate custard. Chill for a few hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, put the brown sugar and espresso powder into a small bowl and pour over 2 tbsp boiling water, mixing to combine. Pour this coffee mixture into the double cream and whisk until it just holds soft peaks. Dollop the cream onto the trifle and top with the shaved chocolate.

Once fully assembled the trifle will keep for a day in the fridge but you can make the custard bases a few days ahead and chill until ready to assemble.

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