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Christmas cooking guide: it's all gravy

In the first of his five part festive guide, top chef David Friel provides some hints, tricks and tips to help you get through the nightmare that is cooking Christmas dinner.

Make your gravy in advance to avoid rushing around on Christmas day
Make your gravy in advance to avoid rushing around on Christmas day

Christmas dinner just isn't complete without gravy. Forget about the stuff that comes from granules or packets. I mean the thick, flavoursome rich and real gravy that will add the perfect finishing touch to your festive feast, bringing the whole dish together.

If you’ve been tasked with the cooking this year, Christmas day can be stressful and lots of people make the mistake of rushing around last minute trying to make gravy while the rest of the Christmas lunch or dinner is getting cold.

In any good restaurants, base sauces are made in advance, as they take a long time to cook and to extract the maximum flavour.

My advice would be to get ahead of the game by preparing your gravy the day before – or even a few days before – and then use it at the last minute to quickly de-glaze your roasting pan, mixing it together with all of the cooking juices to fully enhance the flavour.

Following my instructions below, anyone can easily make perfect turkey gravy.

Ingredients:

Turkey giblets

50g of butter or fat

50g of plain flour

50g of peeled chopped carrots

50g of peeled chopped onions

25g of washed celery sticks, chopped

2 bay leaves

10g of tomato puree

Salt and pepper

Pan juices from the roast turkey

Method

1 Place the giblets in a saucepan and cover with the water. Add one of the bay leaves, a pinch of salt and pepper and half of the onion.

2 Bring to the boil and skim off any scum. Reduce the heat and then simmer for 45 minutes.

3 Strain the stock and measure 1 litre.

4 Gently melt the butter in a thick bottomed pan, add the remaining onion, carrots and celery and cook for a few minutes.

5 Add the flour and stir until it thickens up to a paste and turn down the heat, add the tomato puree and the second bay leaf and add the stock a bit at a time stirring all the time to avoid any lumps.

6 Once all the stock is added allow to cook on a gentle simmer for 30 minutes, season to taste then strain through a fine sieve, allow to cool, then store in suitable sized containers in the fridge/freezer (this can be made days in advance or longer if freezing.)

On the day

1 Remove base sauce from the fridge and heat gently.

2 Strain off the fat from the roasting tin leaving only the turkey juices.

3 Blend the base sauce with the turkey juices over a gentle heat until it turns golden brown and it has a smooth texture.

4 Use the gravy to de-glaze your roasting pan to maximise flavour, scraping the base of the pan with a spatula to lift all the meaty sediment.

5 Return to the heat and boil for 3-4 minutes stirring all the time to remove any lumps and until the gravy thickens. Season to taste and serve in a pre-heated gravy boat.

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