It’s safe to say that Christmas 2020 will be a little different for most of us but enjoying great food and drink with loved ones is still very much on the cards.
In fact, it may even be more special this year.“I think food has been more important than ever this year,” says chef Mark Moriarty. “I’ve noticed that people have been engaging with cooking a lot more and, with Christmas on the way, everyone’s a bit more excited about the food element.”
While December 25th is the big day, the whole month of December is always full of festive cheer and the chance to spend time with those closest to us. M&S has a fantastic range of party food on offer, from small bites perfect for dining à deux to platters that will delight the whole family. Keep an eye out for the #MyMarksFave hashtag online for tasty food and drinks ideas that will work perfectly for your Christmas, however it looks this year.
“One of the things I love from M&S is the Our Best Ever Smoked Salmon,” Mark says. “Growing up, the Christmas starter in my family was always smoked salmon on brown bread. So that’s one of my go-tos from the M&S Christmas range. It’s oak smoked and what’s really cool about it is it’s sliced across the grain. If you slice along the grain, which is a common mistake, you get long, stringy pieces of salmon, whereas M&S cuts it the opposite way so texture of the salmon is cut into little squares and they just melt in the mouth.”
Of course, in most Irish households the traditional turkey will once again take centre stage and M&S has a full selection of Irish free-range turkeys on offer this year. “You can get everything from the plain turkey you work on yourself to a beautiful bronze Irish turkey crown, with a bacon and chestnut stuffing and a little packet of dried cured bacon to put on top,” Mark explains. “It’s in a foil tray and it’s been treated perfectly so you just put it in the oven to cook – and you can even carve it straight from the tray too.
“There’s also a deboned rolled version, which is stuffed and covered with dry-cured bacon. It’s perfect for two people, with a little bit left over for sandwiches as well. So no matter how easy or full on you want to make it for yourself, M&S has the option there and it’s always great quality.”
Mark’s top tips for easy Christmas cooking
- Don't overthink it. Pick one or two sides and a potato dish and have everything prepped in advance. I make my red cabbage and mashed potato ahead of time and pop them in the microwave. It means you’ll be able to sit down and actually enjoy the dinner.
- Pick up some M&S party food to have before the main meal, maybe with a glass of wine. The range goes from a full smoked salmon and prawn platter for four to six people down to bite sized pieces you can throw in the oven.This year, new lines include M&S Chicken Doughnut Dippers, Battered Mini Sausages Chip-Shop Style and Plant Kitchen Mini No Chicken Kievs.
- When it comes to the turkey, brining does wonders. Dissolve 100 grams of salt in a litre of water and put the crown or turkey in it for an hour, then take it out and cook it. You’ll be shocked by the improvement it makes to the moisture and the seasoning. It’s a very simple process to make it taste even better.
And if you’re looking for a little inspiration this year, Mark has teamed up with M&S to create some fantastic festive recipes:
Warm crumpet with M&S Normandy Crème FraÎche, Our M&S Best Ever Smoked Salmon, Atlantic prawns and dill
“This is real comfort food. The recipe is very simple; you can have it made ahead of time and you just cook it off in the pan. If you don’t want to make the crumpets, M&S does beautiful pre-made crumpets that you can pop in the oven or microwave and they’re ready to go. The crème fraîche is really high quality and then there’s that Best Ever Smoked Salmon and some prawns and dill on top. It’s really classic and absolutely delicious.” Get the full recipe here.
Classic pork sausage stuffing with truffle pesto and salami
"This has lots of butter, then the truffle pesto goes in on top. And then I’ve chopped up a bit of salami cooked with some garlic and onion breadcrumbs. Then you just finish it with the pork sausage mix, and it’s absolutely delicious. Everyone probably has their own stuffing recipe but if you are looking for a different recipe this year, this is the one to use.” Get the full recipe here.
Head to www.marksandspencer.ie to order from a range of festive menus by December 15th to collect in-store and follow M&S on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and #MyMarksFave for more great recipes and food and drink inspiration.
Brought to you in partnership with M&S