Justine's Tips for a Perfect Christmas Feast!

What’s your best tip for cooking for a large number of guests?
Keep it simple and be organised. Simple doesn’t mean it can’t be delicious. For example, a 7kg ham can easily feed 20 people, so that’s the protein component done and will make for the most beautiful centrepiece. Then filling the table with lovely fresh salads, sides and homemade condiments brings the whole festive feast together.

What are the best Christmas foods to prepare in advance?
I love to be super organised at Christmas so I can enjoy the day with my friends and family. That means having the menu written down, shopping lists created and preparation lists all sorted so you can have seamless cooking. I pre-order my ham from the butcher weeks in advance and pick it up a few days prior. I also make the glaze up to 3-4 days ahead of time and simply reheat when it’s time to glaze the ham. The night before I prepare my turkey by stuffing by air-drying on a tray in the fridge (this will form the perfect golden skin) and I peel all of the vegetables I need. It’s always a good idea to ask your guests to help out with the little things – bringing salads, fresh seafood for the entree or the dessert.

Do you have a favourite non-traditional/left of centre Christmas dish?
Some years we like to change up the meat that will be the centrepiece at Christmas. In Australia, turkey and ham are traditional but our family also has the European-style meats like wild boar, goose and venison. All very delicious and festive!

How do you use Christmas leftovers?
With the leftover ham I love to make eggs Benedict, croquettes, mac and cheese (with lots of shredded ham), pea and ham soup and salads.
Bubble and squeak, omelettes and frittatas are great with leftover roast vegetables and turkey. Also I make a delicious chilli con ‘turkey’ with shredded turkey meat which is great for tacos.

Christmas just wouldn’t be the same without which dish?
Seafood, particularly oysters. Every year we start the meal off with freshly shucked oysters which my dad does the honour of opening.

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