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Dublin butcher shares top Christmas dinner tips for tasty turkey and best gravy

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Managing director, and second-generation butcher of Kerrigan’s, Barry Kerrigan, has some advice on how to take the stress out of cooking Christmas Day dinner this year.

With five stores across Dublin, and a thriving online business, Kerrigan’s predict they will sell enough turkeys to feed 15,000 people this year.

“Christmas is often one of the only times that the whole family comes together around one table. And with it often involving large numbers, cooking a dinner of this scale isn’t something we get to practice often,” he said.

“It can be daunting not just for those new to it, but for experienced hosts too. We hear from our customers every year how their day is usually centred around the meal.

“But the members of the family who take on the cooking often spend less time with loved ones. The good news is, it can be made easier with a bit of preparation in advance,” he added.

Barry highlighted that preparation is key to the big day going smoothly, and a lot of the cooking process should actually happen on Christmas Eve.

“Whilst there is a lot that can be done in advance of the big day, it’s still important to be organised,” he said.

“My first bit of advice is to make a list. Decide what time you want to serve your dinner and work your way back – your turkey will take the longest so that needs to go in first.

“When you first collect your turkey make sure it’s stored in the fridge – not anywhere else as keeping it the same temperature is a crucial food safety precaution.

“Ham is almost as important as the turkey, but the best way to reduce cooking time, and give you space in your oven, is to boil on December 24.

“Leave it in the cooking liquid overnight to keep it moist and then on Christmas morning simply peel off the fat, score, stud with cloves and cover with your chosen glaze.

Barry Kerrigan has some advice on how to take the stress out of cooking Christmas Day dinner

“Pop in the oven at 180 degrees for 40-60 minutes. As it bakes, you can keep basting with the glaze every so often.

“I always par boil the potatoes on December 24 and leave them in the fridge overnight – it actually improves their crispiness. Same goes for the vegetables.

“Gravy can be made weeks in advance, frozen and defrosted on the 24th. Simply add the juices in from the turkey on the 25th for an even richer taste.

“When you think your bird is cooked, make sure to use a meat thermometer to be certain – you’re looking for 75 degrees celsius in the thickest part, the thigh.

“Always allow the bird to rest for 30 minutes after cooking to reduce the possibility of undercooking – a very stressful discovery when you’re about to dish up to hungry guests.

“If you can buy pre-made, quality trimmings, do – the bread, the soup, the potatoes, the stuffing, your desserts.

“Of course, there will always be the crowd-pleasers that your family will want you to make, but even picking up one or two things will mean you have more time to enjoy the day out of the kitchen.

“And If someone offers to help, let them,” he added.

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