Cooking Christmas dinner can be difficult to master with the difficulty of juggling the timing when preparing the expected turkey and all the trimmings. It can also be difficult to keep glasses filled and spend time with loved ones as you start your celebratory meal, although according to celebrity chef, Gino D’Acampo, it doesn’t have to be. Speaking to Express.co.uk, he shared the ‘biggest mistakes’ that can make the day more stressful, and how to avoid them to have a more enjoyable Christmas filled with food and drink.
For many families, Christmas Day is an exciting yet stressful time as weeks of preparation come to a head in the form of food, drink and gifts – and with only two days left, there is little time to make the final purchases before shops close for the festive period.
While there’s a lot of pressure to make things “perfect” when it comes to hosting friends and family, Gino pointed out that this is one of the “biggest mistakes” many Brits make, adding that you don’t need to overcomplicate your menu to create a memorable meal.
He explained that no matter how big or small your plans are, streamlining everything from the cooking process to the type of alcohol you choose to store can make a difference.
Gino added, “It’s often the thing that people do without realizing that they overcomplicate it by trying to do too many things, like make everything fresh in one day.”
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By spreading out your to-do list over two or more days, you can get a head start on the anticipated Christmas dinner and free up time outside the kitchen to spend with loved ones.
Gino told Express.co.uk: “Things like potatoes, vegetables or even gravy can easily be prepared the day before.
“For example, you can cook the potatoes beautifully the day before, cool them, drizzle a little extra virgin olive oil on a griddle. And when they’re hot to 100°C and ready to go, you add the potatoes, put a Parmesan crust on top and you’re done.”
He added that the same could be done with mashed potatoes, which would taste just as good on Christmas Day if made in advance the day before. Vegetables can also be pre-cooked, provided they are cooled in freezing cold water immediately.
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Gino suggested that on the day you plan to serve it, you should just heat it with butter or oil, salt, and pepper—whatever you need to use, and it will taste just as fresh as if you cooked it raw that morning.
It’s not just the main course that can be prepared in advance either. In fact, baking treats today or tomorrow will set you in good stead once December 25th arrives.
“We often forget that it takes someone with a lot of experience to prepare everything fresh there and then on Christmas Day, especially if it’s for a lot of people,” he said.
The Italian-born chef revealed that at home, he shares his wife’s Christmas cooking to make sure everything is done in a timely manner, adding that he’s in charge of the meat and fish, while his partner, Jessica, prepares the vegetables. and sweets.
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The D’Acampo family begins preparing their food on December 24th, with a generous 10-15 courses lasting through December 27th. Every year, Gino serves up a range of authentic Neopolitan dishes including pork belly stuffed with sausage, lobster catalana, and oyster spaghetti.
While prepping food ahead of time means you have to sacrifice time on Christmas Eve, the celebrity chef pointed out that it’s just part of the commitment that comes with cooking a festive dinner.
One of his top tips for overcoming those inevitable kitchen mishaps was to go in with a clear mind and enjoy making each dish, as things are more likely to go wrong if you’re feeling stressed or “panic” about the preparation.
Gino said, “People put a lot of pressure on themselves because they want to do everything perfectly, and the thing is, it’s all about doing a lot of things. And when it doesn’t go to plan, it makes you feel rubbish.”
Of course, it is not only food that plays an important role during Christmas, as many families also plan to enjoy a range of alcoholic beverages. Although it is tempting to purchase a wide selection of wines, beers, and spirits to cater to your guests, it can be an expensive option.
Instead, Gino recommended keeping it simple with one popular drink—the gin and tonic. He explained that the gin’s versatility means you can customize it “to match whatever you’re cooking” and it’s “more affordable” than trying to pair different wines.
Sticking to his roots, the celebrity chef revealed that he “only drinks Italian gin,” though finding a gin you like is important to serve with Christmas dinner. He recommended using the “classic” flavors for appetizers before the main meal and saving the “richer” spirits for your savory dinner and evening.
Gino’s personal favorites include Ginato Pink grapefruit, clementine, and pinot grigio, all of which can be paired with tonic water and a slice of lemon, orange, or lime.