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I'm Nigel Slater. I adore cooking at Christmas.
For a couple of very special weeks,
food becomes something magical - nostalgic even.
For me, food is quite simply the essential ingredient
in having a great time.
Family and friends, good food and drink is all you need.
Christmas doesn't need to be complicated.
And special definitely doesn't have to mean stressful.
You just need to keep it simple!
That's a really lovely way to start a meal.
So tonight I want to share the run-up to my Christmas.
Before the big day, there's all my favourites.
Like a luxurious hot pot and irresistible chocolate flapjacks.
And then Christmas Day itself,
complete with sparkling sea bass starter,
and a delicious roast duck.
It's the most amazing smell.
And a majestic festive trifle.
And because no Christmas is complete without a party,
I'll be off to Scotland to find out
how Christmas is celebrated, Highland-style.
That is delicious.
This is one Christmas menu you won't want to be without.
For me, festive food is the most special food of all.
Christmas gives us all the perfect excuse to take our time,
push the boat out, make a fuss of family and friends,
and eat a bit more too!
Lots of food. Too much food.
Every meat you can eat, spread across the table.
It's like Sunday roast on an epic scale, isn't it. It's fantastic.
I'm from Yorkshire, so Yorkshire puddings and the works.
We have goose in our house.
We have roast goose that my mum probably puts on about 6am.
You just smell it throughout the morning. It's lovely.
We often toy with the idea of a goose or a duck, or some beef,
but I can't get it past the wife, to be honest.
She's a great fan of turkey.
But Christmas isn't just one meal.
It's lots of mini-feasts, leading up to the big day.
My first festive supper was always a Slater Christmas favourite.
This time of year always reminds me of my dad's one attempt at cooking.
Every year, he'd go through the fridges,
he'd go through the cupboards,
and find all sorts of little goodies,
and he'd make them into one huge stew.
It was his annual contribution to the family table.
And you know what? It was delicious.
Sometimes it was better than others,
but it was just a lovely thing for him to do.
Every Christmas I love to carry on Dad's tradition,
with my own version of his casserole.
Sometimes I chuck in a bit of turkey or ham,
but today I'm sticking to veg.
A couple of onions will give me a base,
cooked quite slowly with some butter until soft.
And then some good wintry herbs.
Rosemary's one of those herbs
that sees you good right the way through the winter.
Its stems and leaves are tough enough
to stand the most fearsome frosts.
And with this, one of my favourite spices of all - juniper.
The wonderful thing about them is that they smell of gin and tonic.
A bit of salt makes the berries easier to crush.
So put the juniper and rosemary in with the onions.
A couple of bay leaves as well.
And instantly it smells like a frosty morning.
There's something about juniper and rosemary
that just have that frosty wintriness to them.
The heart and soul of my casserole
is going to be some good old winter veg.
Even in mid winter I don't peel carrots.
It's very rare that their outer skin is tough.
They can just go in in big generous lumps.
Follow that with any other sweet root veg.
In my case parsnip and that unsung hero, swede.
Keep all the vegetables roughly the same size,
so they're ready at the same time.
So I'm going to put that over a low heat, with a lid on,
so the veggies get a chance to soak up all the butter,
the spice and the herbs.
If you've got a drop of Christmas booze hanging around,
a splash will give this a sweet and mellow festive warmth.
I'm using marsala, but madeira or dry sherry would be brilliant too.
A spoonful of flour will help give me a lovely velvety sauce.
Some people get so sniffy
about putting a bit of flour in a casserole.
I mean, seriously!
As long as you cook it through,
so you don't have a raw taste of flour,
it's going to be absolutely fine.
Now I want something else in there. Something a little bit meaty.
I'm going to put some chestnuts in.
Chestnuts make this a really Christmas-y casserole.
Then everything's bought together with some hot stock.
Turkey stock would be tasty here,
but a good veg stock like this will work nicely too.
Lastly, a twist of pepper.
Give it up to half an hour
to let the vegetables get to know each other.
# Have yourself a merry little Christmas
# Let your heart be light
# From now on, our troubles will be out of sight... #
Let's see how this is getting on.
It's always worth tasting something halfway through,
so that any additions you make to it have got time to work their magic.
Don't leave your tasting till the end.
That's nice enough, but it needs some beefiness to it.
It needs some depth.
I'm going to pop some mushrooms in.
When my dad used to make this, he'd go through the cupboards,
and he'd always end up doing that same old seasoning.
It would be Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco.
But these mushrooms will give me plenty of flavour.
So all I'm adding is a handful of dried porcini for a bit of depth.
Then a spoonful of mustard to balance the sweet vegetables.
I'm using a grainy mustard. You can use smooth.
Stir that in.
After around half an hour,
the veg should be soft and lovely and tender.
A final addition is a spoonful of sweet redcurrant jelly.
It'll make the sauce beautifully glossy.
This is the bit of cooking I love above all others.
It's the moment when you decide on the seasoning.
You taste and you decide whether it needs a bit more salt,
a bit of lemon juice, a bit of mustard.
It's when you put your signature on a stew.
It's got nothing to do with following recipes and cook books,
it's all about your flavours.
What you love.
It's making sure everybody gets
plenty of the sweet roots sauce
and the mushrooms too.
And just to make it a bit more festive,
I'm finishing it all off with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds.
This is spoon and fork food, rather than knife and fork.
Plenty of sauce, a mushroom.
There's a good sweetness to that.
It's from the root vegetables and the redcurrant jelly.
Then there's a depth, an almost woodsy quality to it,
which is from the mushrooms.
It's cheap and it's exactly what I want to come back into the house for
on a freezing cold day.
Every Christmas I make this differently,
depending on what's around.
It's the sauce that really makes or breaks it though.
So keep tasting and adjusting the flavours to suit you.
I think my dad would be particularly proud of this one!
There are some things that Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without.
Whether it's the little family traditions
or the food we put on the table,
the memories are what make this time of year so special.
For me, the traditions begin at the start of the holidays,
where there's one thing I definitely have to have around.
This time of year,
there's nearly always a big bowl of nuts in the house.
There's walnuts, pecan nuts, almonds and hazelnuts.
I have a real soft spot for Christmas nuts.
One of the first things I bake is a big tray of chocolate nut flapjacks.
A perfect treat for any carol singers
or unexpected guests who pop by.
I'm starting by chopping up some walnuts.
But any of your Christmas nuts would be great.
The recipes I really like at this time of year
are the ones that are a little bit healthy, and a little bit naughty.
Sort of saint and sinner all in one.
Not just nuts but dried fruits as well.
Things like wonderful dried figs.
I remember my father used to buy lots of nuts.
He'd line them up on the arm of the chair.
When they were all shelled, he'd then start to eat them.
It was sort of like a Christmas and New Year ritual.
You really can throw in any dried fruits and nuts here.
Along with my walnuts and figs, I'm trying some sour cherries,
cranberries, and a handful of pumpkin seeds.
Give it a quick blitz. I don't want it to be too fine.
I want my biscuits to have quite a bit of texture to them.
A spoonful of ground almonds will help bring the mixture together.
A few whole pumpkins seeds.
I want this to have a really crunchy texture.
That's enough healthy stuff. Time for a treat.
About 100g of sugar in there as well.
I want something really sticky.
I'm going to use a bit of golden syrup. You could use maple syrup.
Stir, very gently
the melted butter,
the golden syrup
and the caster sugar.
A mix of fine porridge oats and coarser rolled oats
will give my flapjacks a soft, chewy texture.
You could use either, or both.
Turn the heat off and then I mix in all the dried fruits and nuts.
Make sure the mixture is well padded in the baking tray
so it doesn't go crumbly.
That goes in the oven at 160 for about 25 minutes.
# Just hear those sleigh bells jing-a-ling
# Ring-ting-ting-a-ling too
# Come on, it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you
# Outside the snow is falling and friends are calling you-hoo
# Come on it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you
# Ting-a-ling-a-ling a ling-long-ling!
# Ting-a-ling-a-ling a ling-long-ling!
# Ting-a-ling-a-ling a ling-long-ling!
# Ting-a-ling-a-ling a ting-long-ling!... #
These flapjacks would be great as they are,
but my Christmas version always includes some silky chocolate.
Heat a bar or two of your favourite
over some simmering water until it's runny.
This is partly flapjack, partly Muesli bar,
and partly chocolate biscuit.
It's rather having a healthy main course,
followed by a slightly naughty pudding.
You could send me off to school with these in my tuck box
and I'd love you for ever.
I know Christmas has officially started
when these make an appearance.
Just make sure you get first dibs because they'll go really quick.
That's crisp and chewy.
And it feels partly very good for me and partly a little bit naughty.
It suits me fine.
I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate
the start of the holidays than with these gorgeous flapjacks.
A perfect treat for Christmas visitors.
I might even save one for Santa.
I always associate Christmas with the cold.
And, frankly, the frostier the weather,
the more magical the experience is.
So, I've come to the chilly north east coast of Scotland
and to a farm where the McKenzies do Christmas traditionally.
Robert and his friend, Andy, usually organise the parties
and have invited me to come and see how they do it, Highland style.
Christmas and New Year in the Highlands is a big event.
There's lot of parties in all the various farm houses
and castles and whatever round about.
And, er, it's a great time for everyone to get together
and lots of eating, drinking, dancing
- all the cliches you think of the Highlands.
They actually come together Christmas and New Year time. It's good fun.
Of course there's only one place to throw a real Highland gathering -
Luckily, Robert's friends happen to own one!
It's very nice to cook in a castle kitchen. How come?
There is a bit of a story behind this castle here.
About 100 years ago, my great grandfather farmed off this farm.
This castle here was a ruin. And the current owner who restored it
was a good friend of my dad's at school.
It was a total ruin!
It was a total ruin. A few bits of stone here and a few there.
Right open to the skies, it was inhabited by sheep.
It's a very special place,
because it's coming back to my old family roots
and it's been totally transformed.
Quite often at Christmas and New Year,
we're always down here for parties. And lots of food, dancing.
Do you like a party up here?
We can't just pop out to the cinema or, er...
Most of us have probably been banned from the pub at some point.
So, you've got to go to wherever they'll take you.
Every year, the boys cook venison for their guests,
but, this Christmas, they're adding a new twist.
It's the first year Robert has produced oil
from the family's rapeseed harvest,
so they're using that to cook something special.
They want to try it out on me first.
Robert's starting by blistering some whole chillies.
That oil is very special.
Now, I wouldn't ever cook with my best olive oil.
Why would I cook with my best rapeseed oil?
This is a special occasion.
We're hoping tonight to cook for some of our friends and family
and, with the rapeseed oil, it has a higher flashpoint.
You can cook to higher temperatures.
So, you can get it hot, before it starts to smoke and burn.
Exactly that! The very light flavour of the rapeseed oil,
and the butteriness, the grassiness, it compliments the venison perfectly.
Andy's carving his meat straight from the bone,
but you can get your butcher to do this all for you.
And, dare I ask, if I didn't want to use venison for this,
what else could I do it with?
Beef. It's a very similar meat - red meat. Anything.
That is a good hunk of meat.
Less fat than skinless chicken.
What's the point of skinless chicken?
We're just sort of blistering up the skins of chillies.
And, er, the oil will be taking on some of the heat from the skin.
A couple of softened red onions will add sweetness.
So, do you cook a lot?
It seems to be Rob and I though, the ones who cook.
Although all of our friends are pretty handy.
And everyone up here can cook
because everyone's got so much produce.
But it does seem to be Rob and I that usually take on the task
and feed the thousands.
I think we're ready for some venison in the pan.
So, it depends how you like your steaks.
I like mine rare, so about two minutes on each side.
But the key thing about this is always undercook your steaks.
You can always put them back in but you can't take them out.
Do you let venison rest, the way you would beef?
Ideally I'd let it rest for the same amount of time you'd cook it for.
So, if you cook it for about two minutes either side,
rest it for two minutes.
Well, it's a nice rule of thumb. I can remember that.
To me, straight away, that is a beautiful pan of food.
It looks fabulous even before you put it on the plate.
You've got the golden oil. You've got a crust on the meat.
And the chillies and the onions. That's fabulous.
Andy's throwing in a few dried figs for a bit of bite.
The seeds in the figs kind of pop when you start eating them.
-That crunchy popping.
It goes really well with the texture of the meat.
How could you resist that? Just putting it on the table as it is?
It looks beautiful.
The boys' final addition is a good glug
of a very traditional venison accompaniment - port.
And a slosh of balsamic vinegar.
It is, yeah.
Then there's the all-important couple of minutes' rest,
before Andy can dish up.
Just look at all that...
All those gooey, sticky bits of lovely flavour.
-I'm going to try and scrape off...
That looks splendid.
I love the sweetness of the figs and the onions.
And the chilli. There is a bit of heat there.
There really is.
-I'm loving this. This is sumptuous. Thank you so much.
If the boys cook like this for their party,
I think their guests are in for a real treat.
Taking a break from the kitchen over Christmas is a must.
An afternoon in the fresh air always works up a great appetite.
You never know, you might pick up a couple of tips
to take back to the kitchen as well.
Lovely smell of the roasted chestnuts.
All you've got to do it make sure
that you just cut each of the chestnuts.
They tend to pop otherwise.
A nice, warm place to be as well, on a cold day,
stood in front of the chestnuts.
Chestnuts and mince pies
might be traditional Christmas fare for most,
but, for me, the holidays as a lad bring back memories
of something a bit different.
When I was a boy, you could always tell what time of year it was
by the sort of cheese we had in the house.
At this time of year, there was always a bit of blue.
Even now, I have to have Stilton at Christmas.
Every year, it makes its first appearance a couple of days
before the big day -
when I use it to make this luxurious winter slaw.
Red cabbage and blue cheese are a perfect pairing,
so that's going to be my base.
Fennel is one of those crisp, wintry tastes.
It reminds me of when I was a kid and used to go to the sweet shop.
It's that same aniseed flavour.
Whenever I think of celery, I think of apples.
It's the old ploughman's lunch thing.
You can't beat a British apple with celery and cheese,
the sharper the better in my kitchen.
A good squeeze of lemon will stop them going brown.
I want a slightly different texture to my salad -
one that's as seasonal as Santa - lovely, crisp walnuts.
This is the best time of year for walnuts.
When they're still very pale inside.
The paler the walnut, the sweeter it is.
You can buy them ready shelled but it's not half as much fun.
You need about eight to ten good sized nuts here.
You could you pecans or cashews,
anything that will add a bit of crunch.
All nuts taste really good straight from the shell.
But that flavour intensifies almost tenfold when you toast them.
Even for a salad, I'd want to do that.
This will need a dressing.
I'm after something clean and bright,
so I'm making a base with red wine vinegar -
the salt just softens its sharpness.
A teaspoon or so of smooth, mild mustard
and then some oil... groundnut feels like it fits.
Then, because of what's happening in the salad,
with the nuts and the apples, I've got some walnut oil.
You don't need much walnut oil. It's got really good flavour.
Then it's just a case of adding the final bits -
the apples, toasted walnuts
and, of course, my very festive bit of blue.
What I don't want to do is to make a creamy cheese dressing.
I want to have discernible pieces
with this beautiful Stilton in my salad.
I'm just going to crumble the pieces.
Tufts from the fennel, I'm not going to waste those.
Crisp textures, quite strong flavours.
Great colours for a cold day.
This is my favourite alternative to the traditional Christmas coleslaw.
It's brighter and fresher and the strong flavours and crisp textures
never fail to get the taste buds going, ready for the feast to come.
At Christmas, it's not just about the food.
It's about who you share it with.
It doesn't need to be a fancy meal - just a sociable, happy one.
That's what people remember,
not whether you burnt the sprouts or not!
My family tend to visit all the other relatives in the family.
We jump in the car, drive to one house, get fed.
Go to another, get fed.
It's about eating as many dinners as we could really
over the course of the day.
We live in a lovely little village and I've got three kids now.
So we carry a lot of those traditions on.
There's a really nice carol service in the Market Square, Christmas Eve,
where they serve a lot of mulled wine and mince pies.
Can you see the Christmas tree?
For me, Christmas Day is all about making that extra bit of effort.
Which is why this year I'm going all out -
with a stunning little sea bass starter,
an even tastier alternative to turkey,
a brand new festive fizz.
And the real icing on the cake -
my gorgeous trifle
that no Christmas is complete without.
But first, there's the Christmas Eve tea.
It's usually a humble treat to make sure there's plenty of room
for the next day's feast.
This is my favourite - it's quick, easy,
and has a bit of luxury to it too.
There's a lovely way with mackerel - smoked mackerel -
that just involves peeling off the skin,
crumbling the fish into a dish,
you can do it with smoked trout as well.
Probably do it with sardines.
And mash in a bit of cream.
Grate a little bit of cheese into it. I'm using Parmesan.
A twist of black pepper.
Just a few chives.
Fold the fish and the cream,
cheese and chives together.
I could put a little bit of ground chilli in there.
Something with a little bit of heat.
But I've got something much better.
The traditional accompaniment for smoked fish.
Not much. It's got quite a pep to it.
You can pick up horseradish
at any farmers' market or good greengrocers.
Most people associate it with roast beef,
but I love it even more with smoked fish.
A little bit more cream. A tiny bit more cheese.
And then back under the grill.
A very smart cheese on toast.
After all the usual last-minute shopping and present wrapping,
this is my perfect Christmas Eve supper.
Makes a great hangover brunch too!
I'm spending the day with Robert and Andy in the Scottish Highlands
where I've been invited to a Christmas gathering
here at their friend's castle.
But first, I've offered to give the boys a break
from the preparations, and make a special lunch.
I'm not sure it's going to be as delicious as what you cooked for me,
but I'm going to have a go.
What I want to do is make like a big soup, a family soup.
I'm keeping this simple - smoked haddock, milk and a few peppercorns.
I'm going to pop that on the heat for a bit.
-If you see it boil over, tell me.
These handsome local leeks will form a great base for my soup.
-I love leeks.
-You know, I love leeks!
-When I was a kid, I used to have them in cheese sauce.
Just a great supper.
'The leeks just need softening in a little oil
'with some spring onion and a couple of rashers of bacon.'
-I'm putting a bit of swede in. Only because...
You call that a turnip? Yeah, you see, I call it a swede.
Whatever it is, it's going in the soup.
'A few little pieces of cauliflower will add a bit of crunch.'
I used to have a habit of making a big Friday soup
where I'd stick everything that was left in the way of veg in the soup
and we'd have it all weekend.
I think that's what soups are for.
That's what I was taught. My mum would always say,
"If the veg at the back of the fridge is sliding its way out,
"toss it into some soup."
Using the milk the haddock has been poached in
is an easy way to give the soup a lovely smoky flavour.
These are beautiful.
The final ingredient is some amazing locally caught wild mussels.
They just need heating in a pan with some oil
for a couple of minutes, to open them.
I'm just going to pop the fish into the soup.
Can we use any fish? Does it have to be haddock or can we use...?
-No, you can use...
-The lovely thing about using this
is that you get all the smoky flavours.
But, yes, you can use anything.
I can't believe how juicy these mussels are. Look at that.
Great. Love it.
A good simmer is a sign we're ready to go.
-It really is a main dish, isn't it?
-It IS a main dish.
But, as I say,
it's one of those dishes that could be for a special occasion,
but, also, if you want to put more potatoes in it and things,
it can actually be a very cheap supper.
-Thank you very much.
-Thank you. This looks delicious.
-The sea and the countryside coming together.
-It is, isn't it?
So good. What about sticking a bit of sherry in it?
Mm. A bit of white wine. A bit of dry sherry.
A little bit of cider maybe.
This is a great soup. I love it.
I'll cook for you again. You say nice things.
You can definitely cook for us again.
What are you doing next weekend?
You can really play around with this soup -
skip the mussels and try different winter veg if you like.
For ideas on how to put your spin on all my Christmas recipes,
have a look at the website...
For most of us,
it's the night before Christmas that's particularly magical.
Probably because it involves the simplest, most special meal of all.
We did have a tradition where we used to put mince pies
and a glass of wine out for Santa -
always used to get eaten and drunk.
Dad was often late out of bed on Christmas morning,
but that was a definite tradition.
Once Santa has had his fill, it's our turn.
The Christmas Day feast has finally arrived and, for me,
there's only way to kick it off.
When I was little, I always knew it was Christmas
because we had tropical fruits in the house.
It was the only time we ever saw a pineapple.
And there were other fruits too.
Things like passion fruit. And it's the seeds that I absolutely love.
That crispness that you get.
Along with that little snap of acidity.
It replaces lemon juice in things like a dressing for fish.
In fact, this is one of my favourite ways to do fish.
It makes a sensational little Christmas starter
and there's no cooking involved either.
I think you'll like this one.
This dressing is the star here.
It needs to be quite sharp,
so along with the juice and seeds of a few passion fruit,
I'm adding a couple of fresh citrus fruits.
And if you make that dressing acidic enough...with some lime juice...
..maybe a little bit of orange,
you can actually use it to cook the raw fish. You don't heat it...
you just put the fish in this very sharp, acidic dressing
and you leave it for a good hour,
maybe even overnight,
and you end up with the freshest-tasting fish.
It makes a lovely first course.
This dressing will need sweetness.
Normally I'd use sugar, but for a treat I'm adding vanilla.
What I do...is slit it...
..right the way down the length...
open it up and, inside, these sticky little black seeds.
I'm treating myself to some seabass, but you can use other fish too.
I could use prawns, I could use trout, a bit of tuna.
I love the cooking at this time of year.
I love the richness of it, the sweetness, I love all the booze,
but there comes a point when I want something that's clean and fresh
and simple, and that's exactly this dish.
Make sure your fish is thinly sliced and evenly spread in a single layer
before spooning over the dressing, just to make sure
that the juice has a chance to cook each bit right through.
For a little kick and a festive flash of colour,
a sprinkling of de-seeded chillies is going in too.
Then simply cover and keep cool.
It'll need at least an hour, but overnight would be even better.
There's no oven needed here. The fridge is where the magic happens
as the acidic juices cold cook the fish.
Now, I'd put that on the table probably just as it is.
But I think it deserves a little bit of green herb.
I'm going to use a bit of chive.
I put them on now rather than at the beginning
because it can make the dressing a bit too onion-y.
As it's for me, I'm going to put a little bit of coriander on.
I know not everybody loves it, but I do.
It's a very long way from my dad's Christmas fruit bowl,
but it's got the same spirit of adventure and the same excitement.
The fish is quite soft. It's got the crunch of those little seeds.
And you've got this lovely balance of refreshing,
slightly sharp juice
and a little nip of chives.
That's a really lovely way to start a meal.
This way of cooking might feel a bit unusual,
but you really have to give it a go.
Even better, it's the perfect starter to make ahead.
The result is a surprising and refreshing dish
that will impress any Christmas Day guest.
In the Highlands, the sun is setting on my day with Rob and Andy.
There's one last thing they've asked me to do ahead of their party -
create a new festive tipple for the toast.
I'm no expert cocktail maker, but here goes.
So what do you drink at Christmas and New Year?
Always a bit of champagne and a couple of drams in the evening.
I haven't done this before, but I'm just thinking of a drink
that's going to be a little bit refreshing
cos, at Christmas, I always think the food is so rich...
Actually, for me, it's really good to have something quite fruity
and a little bit fizzy.
I was wondering about putting a little bit of apple brandy in here.
A little bit of apple juice...
Oh, it smells amazing!
You know what I'm thinking?
Because I want this really chilled and I'm thinking of the fruit,
you've got some fruit in your freezer, haven't you?
Yeah, we've got blackcurrants, damsons,
-Raspberries. Would you?
-Yeah, I'll get some.
-We won't drink it all while you're gone!
So as well as the apple brandy,
I'm adding a dash of fresh apple juice and a shaving of apple peel.
You know like you put a lemon twist...in some drinks? Well,
-as it's apple based...
Ha-hah! Are these your mum's raspberries?
No, they're actually a friend of mine from Perthshire - Doug's.
Better than an ice cube, isn't it?
-Four or five in each.
And then some fizz. I'm not using really posh fizz,
I don't think there's any point, really.
You can tell a lot about a man by the way he opens a champagne cork.
Really?! Do tell.
Well, does he go off with a bang or is it a quiet fizz?
-Well, it looks festive.
-Yeah. Thank you very much.
-Cheers. Merry Christmas.
Quite amazing to be drinking a champagne drink
but you get that warming sensation as well from the calvados.
And then at the bottom, we get raspberries.
Which have soaked up all the alcohol.
Which have soaked up the alcohol! You've done this before!
It's kind of like a sexy cider... Do you know what I mean?
Sexy cider will do for me!
That is delicious! Seriously delicious.
It is, isn't it? I'm still drinking it.
I'm quite pleased with this one!
I just hope it goes down as well with Robert and Andy's guests later.
The Christmas main course has to be the most special of all.
Ever since I was little,
I've had a hunch that the simpler the dish, the tastier the results.
To this day whenever I see a duck,
I think it must be a special occasion.
When I was a kid we used to have them,
albeit boil in the bag with orange sauce.
And it was delicious.
But now whenever anybody special is coming
or it's a special occasion, then I'll roast a duck.
And what could be more special than the Christmas day lunch?
Turkey is great, but to me, duck feels even more festive
and I reckon easier to cook too!
I roast my duck on top of a really savoury base,
which I start off on the hob
with a few bits of bacon, fried over a low heat.
Then some potatoes, which will cook in the wonderful fat
from the duck as it roasts.
I love the skin. I love the meat.
But I sometimes think the best of all is the duck fat.
It's a very savoury fat. It's got masses of flavour.
And it's good with the duck,
but it's even better if you can use it for cooking things in.
Best of all is when that duck fat
is cooked with potatoes.
Roughly slicing the potatoes will help them to cook quicker.
I'm just going to add an onion.
What I'm doing is making a savoury base
that will soak up the duck fat as it roasts.
A little bit of seasoning.
You could use sage here. Use a bit of rosemary.
I'm going to use thyme.
Thyme takes longer to cook down and release its flavours,
making it a perfect herb for any Christmas roast.
Smells great already and I haven't even got the duck in.
When the potatoes, onions and bacon are warmed through,
simply pop the duck on top.
He needs a little bit of seasoning in the form of salt and pepper.
I'm just going to prick him all over with a fork.
Just to make sure some of his fat runs out into the spuds.
I think he just needs a bay leaf.
Tuck him in there.
And then into a hot oven at 200 degrees.
My Christmas duck has to have perfectly crisp skin,
so after a good couple of hours, I separate it from the potato base,
and then give it an extra few minutes
at an even higher temperature.
You can keep these potatoes warm underneath.
After about ten minutes, the duck needs to rest a while
leaving me plenty of time to make a quick sauce.
There's masses of flavour in that pan
so I'm going to pour in a little bit of appropriate booze.
Could be dry sherry. Could be Madeira, Marsala.
I think this is what heaven must smell like.
When you pour fortified wine into a roasting pan
full of all the roasting goodies.
It is the most amazing smell.
It's a smell that just says good times.
It's about special occasions. It's about friends and family.
It's about all the good things, all the reasons that I cook,
are all in this pan.
Scrapping up all those little toasted,
stuck on goodies and dissolving them into the juices.
I'll take that to the table as it is,
just spruce him up a bit.
Great flavours and it smells wonderful.
It smells like a good time.
A very, very good time.
This roast duck is as special to me now
as that boil-in-the-bag duck was when I was a kid.
If you want to impress this Christmas Day without much effort,
this handsome bird is the one to cook.
Christmas day dessert has to be magical,
and definitely a family favourite.
It's the perfect time to have a bit of fun...
..whether it's lighting the Christmas pudding...
or creating a majestic cheese board...
for me, the meal has to end on a food high.
My final dish for Christmas Day is the most special of all.
This is my luxurious twist on the classic Christmas Day trifle.
The secret is a homemade sponge base.
The lovely thing is, that if you make your own cake for a trifle...
..you can flavour it with whatever you like.
The sponge doesn't have to be fancy. I use a basic recipe
that I then add something festive to, at the end.
So firstly, butter and caster sugar are beaten until light and fluffy.
Then some eggs,
followed by a mixture of plain flour and ground almonds,
all mixed together until soft and luscious.
Then I can start adding those extra festive flavours.
I've only got to stick my thumbnail into a Clementine,
and suddenly it's this time of year again.
It doesn't matter when I do it,
it just reminds me... of cold, frosty days.
When I was a kid,
these used to come wrapped in different coloured tinfoil,
and bits of white tissue.
Now they just come in a net bag,
but they're still a wonderful flavouring for cakes and for pastry.
The juice can go in, as well. Go easy, though -
too much will make the cake mix wet.
I want this trifle to have the essence of Christmas about it,
and Clementine zest is not enough.
I'm actually going to put a bit of mincemeat in it.
It's one of those bits in the fridge that's leftover from the mince pies,
and it's such a delicious ingredient.
It always saddens me that it's used for such a short time each year.
Those wonderful dried fruits and sugar and citrus that's in there.
It fills the kitchen with the most amazing smell when it's baking.
Then that goes in the oven at 180 for about 35 minutes.
While the cake's baking,
I use the time to make the rest of my Christmas trifle
even more special.
I like my trifles to have layers...
..but I'm not keen on a layer of jelly.
I did when I was about nine,
but NOW I want a layer of something a bit more interesting.
What I do is to make a homemade curd.
I could buy it - there's some really good orange and lemon curds about,
but I like making my own.
I think the little kitchen tasks that I love the best
are the ones that make the kitchen smell heavenly.
Marmalade making, baking a cake,
even making a piece of toast... I love the smell.
It's homely and it's warm and it's friendly,
and it brings everybody into the kitchen saying,
"Oh, what are you making?"
To turn my zest and juice into a delicious curd,
I heat it gently over a pan of simmering water,
along with some sugar and butter.
Once that's melted, some whisked eggs go in slowly.
I'm just going to keep an eye on this.
It doesn't need constant stirring, but you don't want it to curdle.
While the curd thickens, I can get on with assembling my trifle.
The cooled mincemeat cake gets broken up for the base,
then I usually add a dash of alcohol.
-I know in our family, there was always...
..almost a challenge to see how much booze you could get into a trifle.
I just don't think it does any favours at all
to stick in gallons of sherry or brandy.
You just want a light flavour of alcohol.
I have to have custard. But this bit I'm happy to cheat -
with a good ready-made one.
I've taken this to the point where it's on the verge of thickening.
Take this over to somewhere fairly cool
and then as it starts to cool, it'll thicken,
and it just needs the occasional stir.
Make sure the curd is fridge-cold
before pouring over the cake and custard.
That gets a final chill, just while I whip up some fresh cream.
For me, the real glory of a trifle is when you dig your spoon in
and you get a little bit of all of the layers mixed together...
..and they all swirl into one.
Decorate your trifle however you fancy. For me,
it has to be colourful and fresh, so Clementine zest,
pistachios and something that will surprise and intrigue.
It's just...rather fun to have something on there...
maybe a little bit different, that not everybody knows...
some caped gooseberries.
The kitchen is full of the most magical smells of baking,
of mincemeat, of lemon curd and of Clementines.
No trifle, no celebration.
Trust me, this is the most magnificent trifle
you will ever make!
It never fails to add sparkle and glamour to my Christmas Day.
Even if you do cheat a bit,
the results will still look and taste spectacular.
Christmas just wouldn't be the same without something delicious to eat.
Cooking up a handsome Christmas feast,
adding a festive twist to a family favourite,
or just treating yourself to something naughty -
I, for one, love every dish.
And whether it's baking gingerbread men for the tree,
finding out what Santa's delivered,
or going that extra mile over dinner for family and friends,
I really do believe that it's the simple things
that make for a truly magical Christmas.
-Thank you so much.
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