We've linked up with 'Emily Hirschmann at Pocketful of Rye', She has taken a closer look at the Judge kitchen kit that help lead to Roast Dinner Success.
When I was growing up, Christmas dinner was a really big deal. My Dad would get up at stupid o’ clock (shortly after my brother, sister and I had bounced him and Mum awake, exclaiming over what Santa had brought) and start doing unspeakable things to a turkey. From there, practically the whole of the rest of the day would centre around the cooking and eating of food. I have very fond memories of those days, but in the last few years I've taken more of a pared-back approach. Christmas makes so many demands, often meaning that you have to be in several different places throughout the day and that cooking a huge meal just isn't practical. One year we even settled for a selection of party foods from M&S – while it was very nice and very much easier, without the roast Christmas just isn't the same, so this year I'm going for it, but to make life a little simpler I've gathered a few new accessories from Judge.
The first, and arguably the most important, aspect of any roast is the meat, so to ease the process, I've invested in the Judge TC192 Non-Stick Roast Tin with V Rack (RRP £37.98).
While we have had goose or a joint of beef in the past, turkey with sausage meat stuffing is usually our Christmas staple. To make the stuffing remove the skins from about 600-800g of Cumberland sausages, fry two chopped onions in butter (always butter for this, never oil!), and if you fancy adding in a sweeter notes, you can chop up an apple and fry it with the onions, mix in the sausage meat, about 100-150g of breadcrumbs and a handful of sage. Blend it all together, then leave to one side while you prepare the bird.
This will go against the grain for many people, but turkey, like chicken, should not be washed before cooking, as this is a sure-fire way of spreading salmonella. However, it’s not a bad idea to give the turkey a wipe down with a damp piece of kitchen roll – inside and out – which you can immediately bin after use. That done, working from the neck forwards, gently lift the skin from the meat, trying not to tear it, and push the stuffing between the breast and the skin. Try to tuck the skin under when you’re finished, to stop the stuffing from spilling out. Rub a little olive oil over the surface of the bird and season, if you want you can also lay strips of bacon or pancetta along the back of the bird. Carefully lift the lot and place it into the V Rack of the Judge roasting pan. The tray has been made from thick carbon steel, so it can get very hot and provide even heat distribution, while the rack allows fat to drain away from the meat for a healthier, tastier flavour and easy gravy-making later. If you’re not catering for vegetarians, add your prepared potatoes to roast in the tray beside the rack, where they can absorb all the meat flavour. Place the lot in a hot oven, turn the heat down to 180°C/gas mark 4 and roast for about 20 minutes per 500g of meat.
We’re massive veg fans in my family; even before I became vegetarian we would usually have at least half a dozen different vegetables as part of the Christmas meal, these days that usually goes up to around a dozen, so the cooker top can get very crowded and we’ll always have a separate tray for roasting extra vegetables, whether the veggies are present or not. In the second tray (and possibly third!) we’ll normally have sweet potato, parsnips, courgettes and meat-free roasties, and for the rest of the veg I’ve got my hands on a Judge Steamer Set (RRP from £18.95, depending on size).
Available in sets of three and five, the Judge steamer is a bright and shiny hob-top tower. As well as being a space-saving god-send, it’s also extremely energy-efficient; in the bottom layer you can put something – carrots or potatoes (we usually have mashed as well as roasters) – to boil, then you can pile other veg on to the upper layers to steam as the bottom tier cooks. Broccoli and sprouts are both a must for us, but we usually also make a cauliflower cheese and leeks in cheese sauce, so the steamer is a good way to get those started too.
To drain the potatoes – and other boiled veg – I’ve also opted for the Judge MJ13 Long Handled Colander (RRP £7.25). I did have a colander before, obviously, but I have quite weak wrists and can find it a struggle to drain a full pan one-handed, and as this stainless steel device comes with a stand, I can place it directly in the sink and use both my hands on the hot pan. The long handle, with secondary side handle also means that this colander can easily sit over a bowl or jug for draining, so you can capture the tasty potato water for making gravy.
Everyone has their own way of making gravy, and if you’re a meat-eater, there’s no better way that to use the pan the bird was cooked in, making the most of the meat juices. For vegetarian gravy, I usually use a vegetable bouillon or stock base, then follow the same thickening procedure, with flour and a nob of butter. If you place it in the Judge Thermal Gravy Pot (RRP £15/500ml or £20/650ml) to serve, the double-wall insulation will keep it piping hot for at least 25 minutes, so your gravy needn’t be a last minute panic. Finished with brushed and mirror-polished stainless steel, the gravy pot really looks lovely too; adding a bit of sparkle to the table and making even an ordinary meal feel like a special occasion.
Christmas dinner should be special, but it’s not worth ruining your day over. .