TOP TV chef Marco Pierre White has been getting into the festive spirit by sharing his tips for a perfect Christmas dinner.

The traditional roast is the centrepiece of festive celebrations and preparation can be daunting but Marco has some advice for the big day.

He said: "The thought of cooking Christmas dinner fills most of us with dread. It’s the crescendo to Christmas Day and everybody wants it to be superb. I’ve got a few essential tips.

"For my potatoes, I cook with clarified butter, which is very simple to make. Slowly heat 7oz/200g of chopped, unsalted butter in a pan. Discard the surface liquid (milk solids and water). The remaining golden liquid is clarified butter.

"An hour before you plan to serve, put the chopped potatoes in a saucepan of unsalted cold water. Place on a high heat, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.

"Meanwhile, put the clarified butter/fat into the roasting tin for the potatoes. I also sprinkle in a chicken stock cube – this provides seasoning so there is no need for salt. Heat the fat in the oven at 190C/gas mark 5.

"At the first sign of cracks in the potatoes’ edges, remove them from the heat and drain. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and carefully place the hot potatoes into the fat, which should come up the edge of the potatoes. Baste them well with clarified butter or your turkey baste and return to your oven.

"Do not touch the potatoes now until they are ready to be served, turning them may break them. Just leave them be."

Marco also has some ideas for cooking a perfect turkey, he says it is important the bird is at room temperature when it goes into the oven and to cook stuffing separately.

He recommends pre-heating the oven to 190C/gas mark 5 and starting to cook the bird uncovered after it has been basted.

Marco added: "When the turkey is golden brown, remove it from the oven and cover it in tinfoil to prevent it from browning further. Return it to the oven and continue to cook at 170C/gas mark 3.

"Chop three onions in half, remove the outer layer of skin and place the halved onions into the roasting tin with the turkey. The onions will caramelise, adding sweetness and colour into the roasting juices."

Check the turkey by inserting a skewer into the thickest part of the bird – the breast behind the thigh. The temperature of the skewer represents the temperature inside the turkey; if it’s only slightly warm, it needs longer.

When it is cooked remove the turkey and quickly wrap it in tin foil to rest - remember it will stay warm for around two hours and continue to cook.

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