How to avoid three Christmas dinner disasters

The pigs have fallen out of their blankets, you’ve forgotten to prepare the brussels sprouts and it’s too late to cook the turkey.

Christmas dinner can be a minefield of kitchen mishaps while the pressure is on to cook the perfect meal for the whole family. 

Now, HelloFresh Ireland has delved into some of the most commonly asked Christmas dinner questions that people take to Google for between 23 and 25 December. Revealing some of the weird, wonderful and often frantic questions home cooks are asking, culinary experts share their tips to salvage your Christmas dinner when it’s all gone wrong.

So here are their tips on how to avoid three Christmas dinner disasters.

1) Why are my roast potatoes not crispy?

Roast potatoes are a staple trimming on any Christmas dinner, so it’s not surprising that many of us struggle to find the perfect crispy consistency for our roasties. Home cooks are turning to Google to ask why their roast potatoes are not crispy.

HelloFresh Ireland’s Head of Culinary, Hannah Duxbury, spills the secret to rescuing soggy spuds:

“Parboiling your potatoes until the outside is soft is a great start to crispy roasties. A high oven temperature is the secret to crispy potatoes and you should preheat it to no lower than 220°C. Drain the potatoes in a colander then give them a good shake to rough up the edges. 

If your potatoes have gone a bit lacklustre, drizzle extra oil or melted butter over them before reheating. If they’re in need of an extra boost, place them on a wire rack and pop under the grill for a few minutes at the end. Make sure to regularly turn them to avoid burning.”

2) How can I rescue the gravy?

Perhaps one of the last bits of preparation for your Christmas dinner but arguably one of the most crucial, a proper gravy can make or break your festive feast. 

HelloFresh Ireland’s research shows that salvaging gravy is top of every home cook’s priorities before serving up the dinner with queries including how to thicken gravy and what to do if your gravy is too salty, sweet, spicy or sour. 

So how can you thicken gravy if you’ve been too heavy handed with the water? There are a handful of lesser-known ingredients you can add to your gravy to thicken at the last minute. If you have a handful of leftover roasted vegetables like potatoes or carrots puree and add gradually to your gravy. This adds a delicious earthy taste and packs your dinner with more nutrients. 

For a more tried and tested method make a quick roux with equal parts melted butter and flour. This can also be added to gravy to thicken for a delicious consistency.

And what about gravy that needs a flavour rescue? Introducing a small amount of acidity with vinegar or lemon juice can help to balance saltiness or counteract sweetness. Fresh herbs, lemon juice and honey are also great flavour additions to help salvage lacklustre gravy.

3) Why won’t the pigs stay in their blankets?

Search data shows that ‘how to keep bacon on pigs in blankets’ is one of the most commonly asked questions around everyone’s favourite trimming. 

If you find that your pigs just won’t stay cosy this Christmas, Hannah recommends turning to a couple of household items to keep them in line. “Uncooked spaghetti strands can be used as mini skewers for your pigs in blankets. Simply thread them through the bacon and around the sausage to create a lattice. The pasta will cook alongside the sausages and you can remove them before serving. 

Alternatively you can use chive stems and tie them around each end of your sausages. They’ll add a subtle onion flavour and add another layer of thoughtful presentation to your dinner.” 

For more Christmas dinner ideas visit the HelloFresh Ireland website.