The recipes for a perfect Christmas

Chefs who backed Sunday Lunch campaign offer some tasty last-minute festive meal tips
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Heston Blumenthal

Nicknamed 'Dr Strangefood' for 'science of taste' and bizarre dishes, including snail porridge. Has three Michelin stars

With your main course, add a drop or two of sherry vinegar to the gravy to cut through the richness. And for a lighter alternative to mince pies, have a go at making an ice-cream version...


(Makes about 2l.) 625ml milk; 90g unrefined caster sugar; six egg yolks; 450g mince pies; 50g skimmed milk powder

Run a heavy-bottomed casserole dish under the cold tap for a second, tip out all of the water and pour in milk with one tsp of the sugar. Bring to the boil with milk powder and remove. Beat the yolks and remaining sugar for 10 minutes. Simmer milk and pour on to the egg/sugar mix. Stirring, pour back into the casserole. Place on a low heat and stir until it thickens. Pour into a cold mixing bowl, stirring until ìt begins to cool. When cool, blend with the mince pies in a liquidiser. Strain into a sealed container and refrigerate. Churn in ice-cream machine. Cover and freeze.

John Torode

Co-presenter of BBC2's 'Celebrity Masterchef' and owner of one of London's best-known eateries, Smiths of Smithfield

Put a glass of water in the cavity of the turkey before you cook it: the breast will stay moist and the thighs will steam and cook more quickly.


20g butter; 2 medium onions, peeled,diced; 300g chestnuts chopped finely; 10 leaves of sage, torn; 100g fresh breadcrumbs; 3 Granny Smiths, grated; 200g sausagemeat; sage for garnish; salt and ground pepper

Melt butter. Fry onions over a medium heat until transparent. Add chestnuts and sage, and season well. Cook for two minutes, and then remove from heat. Soak the breadcrumbs in 100ml water until it has all been absorbed. Add remaining ingredients and beat for three mins. Grease a 30cm x 10cm ovenproof dish, spoon the stuffing in and garnish with sage leaves. Cook at 200C/gas mark 6 for 40 mins until crispy on top.

Clarissa Dickson-Wright

The one-time barrister was formerly one half of the much-loved 'Two Fat Ladies' with the late Jennifer Paterson

Instead of cranberry sauce, add sweetness to your turkey with cherry purée. Christmas dinner should be one of the easiest meals in the world to cook: don't panic - or get drunk.


(Serves 6)

1 turkey breast (1.3-1.8kg); 75g breadcrumbs; 1 egg; 25g butter; 150ml Madeira; 900g cherries (keep stones)/ 3x400g tins cherries; 2 cloves; 1/2 cinnamon stick; 2 cardamom pods; 1/2 tsp nutmeg; 1 tbsp sugar

Preheat oven to 180C/ gas 4. Simmer cherries and spices until tender. Boil 15-20 cherry stones in 150ml water for 10 mins, strain, add sugar. Add topurée. Trim and flatten turkey. Mix half purée with breadcrumbs, bind with egg. Spread over turkey, roll up, tie. Grease foil with half the butter. Drizzle Madeira; add remaining butter. Loosely close foil. Cook in casserole for 30-40 mins, opening foil after 15-25 mins. Serve on bed of puree.

Sam Stern

Teenage chef sensation and author of two cookery books including 'Cooking Up a Storm: the Teen Survival Cookbook'

After preparing your bread sauce, slap a bit of buttered greaseproof paper on top of the resting sauce to stop it developing a custard-style skin and make it smoother and tastier.


1 onion, peeled; 12 cloves; 3 bay leaves; 12 black pepper- corns; 600ml milk; pinch salt; 110g fresh white breadcrumbs; 2 tbsp butter; 2 tbsp double cream; salt and pepper; freshly grated nutmeg

Stick cloves into onion halves, put in pan with bayleaves, peppercorns, salt and milk. Bring to boil. Take off heat, cover, and leave for flavours to develop. Fish out the onion. Blitz bread in a processor. Stir into milk with 1 tbsp butter. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, for 10-15 mins. Tip onion back in. Cover and leave in a warm place. To serve, remove onion, reheat sauce gently, stir in cream, butter. Season and grate in nutmeg.

Jean-Christophe Novelli

'The New York Times' voted him the 'world's sexiest chef'. He is the head of cooking school Novelli's Academy

Try putting sweet mince under the skin of your turkey - it's fantastic. Instead of boiling the carrots, make a sticky glaze for them with butter, white wine, fresh thyme and mustard.


450g carrots, peeled and cut into batons; 25g butter; 100ml chicken or vegetable stock; 75ml dry white wine; 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme; 1 tsp grain mustard; salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt the butter in a sauce-pan. Add carrots. Season with a pinch of salt. Add wine; if possible flame the wine to burn off excess alcohol. When the wine is reduced by a third add the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, simmer, and add thyme, mustard and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook for 12 minutes. Remove from heat. The carrots need to retain their crunch. If any liquid is left after cooking, remove the lid and simmer until it has reduced to a sticky glaze. Season with pepper before serving.

Ainsley Harriott

Presenter of 'Ready Steady Cook' with eight prime-time cooking series under his belt, as well as BBC1's 'City Hospital'

Try to prepare the vegetables the day before. Blanch sprouts, put walnuts in with them and keep them in the fridge. Why not break with tradition and have beetroot as one vegetable?


6 large raw beetroot; 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar; 1 tsp cumin seeds; 2 tbsp olive oil; 150ml half-fat crème fraîche; 2 tbsp grated horse radish; salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200C/ gas mark 6/ 400F. Peel the beetroot and cut them into wedges. Tip into a roasting tray and drizzle with the vinegar. Sprinkle over the cumin seeds. Turn occasionally and roast until tender, but with a bite - about 25-30 minutes. Serve with a dollop of horseradish and crème fraîche mixed.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

The former River Café chef who left London for a smallholding in Dorset, River Cottage, subject of numerous Channel 4 series

Try roasting your vegetables in goose fat, which, if carefully used, can be recycled several times. Vegetables done this way are easily delicious enough to get a solo outing as a supper too.


Any of the following vegetables can be roasted in about 2cm depth of rendered goose fat. The fat should be thoroughly heated in a roasting tin in a fairly hot oven (200C/gas mark 6) before you begin. All should be turned once or twice during cooking and seasoned towards the end with salt and pepper.

To serve up, drain on kitchen paper and season again.

Parsnips: peeled and cut as you like, 30-35 mins

Swede: peeled and cut into large chunks, 30-35 mins

Pumpkins and squashes: in chunks, deseeded but not skinned, 30 mins

Shallots: whole, skins on, 30 mins

Garlic: whole bulbs, skins on, 30 mins

Leeks: cut into 5cm lengths, 20 mins

Celeriac: peeled and cut into 5cm cubes, 35 mins

Richard Corrigan

Michelin-starred proprietor of Lindsay House in Soho, and also the presenter of BBC2's 'Full on Food' magazine series

Brussels sprouts don't have to be boring: try adding some Christmassy extras such as chestnuts and bacon to spruce them up.


75g unsmoked streaky bacon, cut into lardons; 600g small Brussels sprouts, trimmed; sunflower oil; 400g vacuum-packed cooked chestnuts; salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the grill. Spread out the bacon lardons on a baking tray or sheet of foil and grill them until cooked, stirring occasionally. Blanch the sprouts in boiling, salted water for two minutes or just until tender. Drain and refresh. Heat a film of oil in a frying pan, and add the chestnuts. Add the sprouts and the bacon. Heat through, stirring. Serve.

Aldo Zilli

The flamboyant Italian chef has four restaurants in the capital and specialises in fish dishes

Roasted pumpkin, instead of onion, is great with sage as a stuffing for white meat.


4 large King Edward potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters; 200ml olive oil; 2 cloves garlic, skin on; 2 sprigs rosemary; 4 x 15ml spoons semolina; salt and ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 200C/ gas 6. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the potatoes. Parboil for five minutes; drain. Put semolina, salt and pepper in to a dish, mix well and toss the potatoes in until fully coated. Place the oil in a large roasting pan; warm in oven briefly. Add potatoes, garlic, rosemary. Cook until golden brown. Remove garlic and rosemary before serving.

Antonio Carluccio

The Carluccio's restaurant group owner gave the first break to the young Jamie Oliver at his Neal Street restaurant

Instead of the traditional Christmas pudding, why not try a Tuscan speciality for dessert this year? Panforte is popular in Italy over the festive period, and has been since the Middle Ages.


250g toasted almonds; 150g walnuts; 55g candied peel; 250g candied pumpkin; 2 tsp ground cinnamon; 2 tsp ground coriander; 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg; 200g plain flour; 200g icing sugar; 200g honey; rice paper; 2 tbsp vanilla sugar

Preheat oven to 160C/ gas 3. Mix nuts, pumpkin, peel, spice and flour well. Put icing sugar, honey and a tbsp of water in a heavy-based pan. Heat until dissolved; allow to bubble, stirring, until it is caramel. Pour on to flour mixture; stir until smooth. Line 20cm cake tin with rice paper. Spread mixture, level top with spatula. Bake for 30 mins. Leave to cool and then dust with vanilla sugar.

Sunday Lunch Campaign

The traditional Sunday lunchis in danger of dying out. Today only 29 per cent share a meal more than once a week and six out of 10 families have abandoned Sunday lunch. In the 10 months since the IoS launched its Sunday Lunch Campaign, it has been supported by a growing list of the country's top culinary figures, from the man voted "the best chef in the world", Heston Blumenthal, to up-and-coming teen chef Sam Stern. Here, some of our high-profile supporters present their tips and recipes for the ideal family Christmas lunch.