Jamie's Cracking Christmas, Channel 4 - TV review: The cheeky chappie is still the people's cook

Even if he acts like he'd rather be elsewhere

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The Independent Culture

Nigella's Christmas Kitchen, Christmas Kitchen with James Martin, The Great British Bake-Off Christmas Masterclass, and Heston's Fantastical Christmas. This is the time of year when all our favourite TV chefs turn their individual talents to a single goal: persuading the British public to eschew dry turkey and overdone sprouts in favour of some truly festive food. So where does Jamie's Cracking Christmas (Channel 4) fit into the seasonal roster?

Mr Oliver was once the cheeky-chappie pub chef, whose "bosh it in" approach made fresh flavours an accessible ideal for the masses. Then came the social justice campaigning, the friendship with Brad Pitt, and the photogenic family life. Now, whenever Oliver's doing one of his cookery programmes, there's always the sense that he's a little distracted, like he's counting down the minutes until he can rush off to some more important appointment.

Happily, even now, he isn't too grand to don a Christmas hoodie and rattle off some of the endearing drivel for which he's known. "Herb-wise it has to be rosemary," he informed us while demonstrating his "bootiful" beef wellington. "Rosemary and beef are the best friends in the whole wide world." Aww, sweet. I wonder what Rosemary got Beef for Christmas? Later, Jamie invited us to "sit down, get on the sofa, forget the rules'n' regs… This is a little game-changer, right here!" He was talking about a Thai massaman curry made from leftover turkey, in case you were wondering.

The patter may have been inane, but the recipes looked both practical and delicious. Jamie said his bread-and-butter panettone pudding tart had "all the elegance of a tart, but none of the hassle of pastry", and looking at it, I believed him. There were cocktails too, and Asian-style, spongy steamed buns, but his greatest triumph was the spiced roast goose served with braised red cabbage, clementine-glazed carrots and golden roast potatoes. It was gently challenging for home cooks without the risk of upsetting the traditionalists.

Or it was, all the way up until he suggested we "sprinkle over some fresh pomegranate seeds as a crunchy alternative to cranberry sauce". Too far, Jamie, too far. If we wanted to chuck pomegranate seeds around like confetti, we'd be watching Ottolenghi's Christmas Crackers, instead.

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