Christmas Day is fast approaching, as is Christmas dinner.
To get ready for the big day, we caught up with award winning celebrity chef Catherine Fulvio to chat all things Christmas cooking, dinner prep, and how to make the perfect meal for all the family… with minimal stress.
Catherine is ALDI’s Ambassador Chef this festive season, and she’s also put together a simple recipe for a delicious Christmas dinner pizza wreath that is sure to impress everyone at the table this year.
Catherine, Christmas dinner can be stressful, what are your top tips on how to make the perfect turkey?
The key to the perfect turkey is the seasoning and baste. I season with a mix of salt, pepper, thyme, and lemon zest, mixed with lots of butter rubbed into the skin. I then baste with apple juice, melted butter and herbs. I try to baste the turkey every 20-30 minutes while roasting it, I find that really seals in those delicious juices. Once the turkey is nicely browned on top, I loosely cover it with foil to prevent it from drying out. The basting liquid and juices from the turkey also make delicious gravy!
What is a key step that you don’t want to miss out on when preparing your dinner?
For me, on Christmas Day every little detail is important to make the most delicious meal possible. One step I would never miss out on is the glaze for the ham. The ham is a real showstopper, so I would always decorate it beautifully with studded cloves, sliced clementines, roasted pears or plums, so it really looks beautiful going onto the table. I make my glaze the night before which is a handy time saving trick, this ensures it’s very quick and easy to do on the day.
If it’s your first-time cooking, what is your top tip to create the perfect dinner without too much stress?
First off, my biggest tip would be to plan ahead, keep it simple and you will be fine! I believe planning ahead is the single most important step in the preparation of the big feast. There is so much involved, you really don’t want to leave it to fate. Plan your menu, write down your cooking times and work backwards from the time you want to eat at.
A simple timetable for the day is useful so that nothing overcooks or undercooks. Take the pressure off yourself on Christmas Day by prepping as much as possible in advance. If you are having a soup course, make it and freeze it, so that all you need to do is defrost and heat on the day. You can also prepare most of the vegetables and even make the stuffing the night before to save time for yourself.
What products can you not live without?
I am a great believer in making things easy for myself wherever possible and with such wonderful produce available now, I highly recommend if short on time, buying in your ready-made sauces and desserts. ALDI has some amazing options such as their Bramwell’s Cranberry Sauce for the Christmas dinner. ALDI’s Specially Selected Madagascan Vanilla Custard is a great option for a ready-made dessert accompaniment, and not to forget my favourite, the Specially Selected Laura’s Vintage Christmas Pudding is absolutely delicious!
And of course, I could not live without a good cheese board at Christmastime. I particularly enjoy the Specially Selected Cooleeney Farm Dunbarra and Tipperary Brie from ALDI. ALDI also has a very handy Irish Cheese Hamper in their Specially Selected range for only €14.99, which has Ploughman’s Chutney and Gourmet Crackers included.
What’s your favourite part of Christmas dinner?
I love all of it and because it is so spread out, I really enjoy every stage! If I had to make a choice, it would be the Brussel sprouts! I cook mine with garlic, bacon, and lots of parmesan.
What should we do with the leftovers?
Make sure you store your leftovers well and don’t be afraid to get creative with them, especially after a traditional Christmas dinner! My Christmas Dinner Pizza Wreath is the perfect way to use up the leftovers, not only does it look gorgeous, but it also tastes amazing too!
CHRISTMAS DINNER PIZZA WREATH
For the sausage meat stuffing
- 2 tsp Stonemill Thyme €0.49 (15g)
- 2 tbsp Kilkeely Butter €1.19 (500g)
- 1 Nature’s Pick Onion, chopped €1.29 (3 pack)
- 100g Ballymore Crust Breadcrumbs €1.39 (400g)
- 1 Nature’s Pick Golden Delicious Apple, diced €1.59 (6 pack)
- 500g Specially Selected Sausage Meat €2.49 (454g)
- 2 tbsp Nature’s Pick Cranberries, chopped €2.49 (300g)
- 1 tbsp Solesta Extra Virgin Olive Oil €2.99 (1l)
For the tomato sauce
- 2 tsp Stonemill Thyme €0.49 (15g)
- 300ml Cucina Tomato Passata €0.52 (500g)
- 2 Nature’s Pick Garlic Cloves, chopped €0.79 (200g)
- 10 Nature’s Pick Basil Leaves €0.99 (25g)
- 1 tsp The Pantry Caster Sugar €1.39 (1kg)
For the Base
- ALDI’s Sorrento Handcrafted Stonebaked Pizza Base €3.19 (360g)
- 3 tbsp Bramwell’s Cranberry Sauce €0.59 (200g)
- 120g Emporium Italian Mozzarella €0.75 (240g, Drained weight 125g)
- Country Fresh Rocket, to garnish €0.99 (85g)
- Leftover roasted Nature’s Pick Butternut Squash €0.99
- 6 pitted Specially Selected Nocellara Olives €1.99 (150g)
- 3 tbsp Specially Selected Pesto Alla Genovese €1.99 (190g)
- 4 slices of Brannan’s Deli Express Turkey, chopped €2.99 (150g)
- Leftover roast Egan’s potatoes, diced €3.49 (2kg)
To prepare the stuffing:
- Butter a dish and preheat the oven to 180°C / 170°C fan /gas 4.
- Heat a saucepan with butter and oil over a medium heat, add the onion and sauté for 6-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the apple and thyme.
- Add the sausage meat, breadcrumbs, and cranberries. Season with salt and pepper.
- Mix well and spoon into the dish. Bake for about 40 minutes until set.
To prepare the tomato sauce:
- Place all the ingredients except the basil leaves into a saucepan.
- Add salt, sugar and pepper and bring to the boil.
- Simmer for 20 to 25 minutes.
- Tear the basil leaves in during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
To assemble the pizza:
- Preheat the oven to 240°C / 220°C fan /gas 9.
- Place the base on a pizza tray.
- To make the wreath pizza shape, use a large scone cutter or a knife and cut a hole in the centre. To avoid any food wastage, use this leftover middle piece to make a mini pizza!
- Spread the tomato sauce on the dough base, leaving a 1cm edge.
- Arrange the turkey slices, butternut squash pieces, roasted potatoes, and stuffing like a Christmas wreath. Add the mozzarella and olives on top.
- Lightly brush oil around the pizza base edge.
- Bake for 15 minutes until the base is cooked and the mozzarella melted.
- Before serving, top with some pesto and cranberry sauce and rocket.