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Tunbridge Wells: The Kentish Hare, Bidborough, co-owner James Tanner gives top tips for Christmas dinner

By Angela Cole

Preparing Christmas dinner is no small feat, with multiple family members and tastes to cater for – as well as high expectations all round.

Have you ever wished you were enjoying a glass of fizz with family and friends, instead of being stuck in the kitchen boiling potatoes, wondering if it is possible to make the oven bigger to fit in the amount of food needed?

Co-owner and chef James Tanner, who runs the award-winning Bidborough gastropub, the Kentish Hare, with brother and fellow chef Chris, says: “It doesn’t have to be that way. With a little pre-planning and creative use of freezer space, the chaotic Christmas can be a thing of the past.”

Chris and James Tanner of the Kentish Hare in Bidborough
Chris and James Tanner of the Kentish Hare in Bidborough

Here, he gives his tips and it starts here: start preparing early.

1. Order ahead: To avoid the panic-filled aisles the week before Christmas, start making your orders now. This might also give you a choice from the best produce available, and not the last, sad-looking turkey or wilted vegetables.

2. Don’t delay: There are dishes which can be cooked now. Your Christmas pudding can be made now, and if kept in a cool, dark place, will mature nicely. Gravy can also be made in advance and frozen, with the juice from the turkey added just before serving. Stuffing also freezes well, and if made in an oven dish, can simply be popped in to cook on the day. And don’t forget about the non-meat eaters in your party.

Obviously, there are things that taste better fresh, but you can, for instance, peel potatoes a few days ahead and make the Yorkshire pudding batter.

Roast Christmas turkey
Roast Christmas turkey

3. Keep it simple: Remember, Christmas dinner is just a roast, with a few added extras. Don’t try to make new dishes – picking a tried and tested dish means having more time to make your dishes are perfect, with the crispiest roast potatoes and the most moist turkey. If you want to be a little creative, put a new twist on old favourites, such as honey roasted parsnips with pancetta and red onion, sprouts with chestnut and orange, or even garlic buttered savoy cabbage.

4. Preparation is key: Don’t leave it all to the last minute. A well written list and a rough schedule could mean the difference between a hot lunch and hungry guests.

5. Christmas Eve: For those of you not racing round the house trying to put the children to sleep, make sure you do all the last-minute prep on Christmas Eve. This includes weighing the turkey and working out its cooking time. Make sure all your frozen food is out of the freezer and defrosting. Then pour yourself a drink! And don’t forget to leave out a mince pie and carrot…

Kent chefs Chris and James Tanner of the Kentish Hare offer their Christmas tips
Kent chefs Chris and James Tanner of the Kentish Hare offer their Christmas tips


Find the Kentish Hare at 95 Bidborough Ridge, Bidborough, Tunbridge Wells, TN3 0XB.
For details visit thekentishhare.com or call 01892 525709.

The Kentish Hare in Bidborough
The Kentish Hare in Bidborough

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