Jamie Oliver Wants You to Have the Best Christmas Ever

December 23, 2017 10:45 pm Last Updated: December 23, 2017 10:45 pm

British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was thinking big for his new Christmas cookbook. This massive compendium of recipes assembled over 17 years is hefty, at over 400 pages. The British food personality is only going to write a Christmas cookbook once, and his ambition here is to make sure you have the best Christmas ever.

“Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook” ($35) is indeed packed tight with recipes that cover various holiday occasions, and not only the usual entrees, sides, desserts, but also edible gifts, leftovers, and cocktails. Most dishes vary in degree of decadence; the salad section is relegated to further back in the book. Tips range from putting loved ones to work (delegation is the name of the game) to advice on roasting meats and assembling a cheese board. Oliver also thoughtfully designed the recipes that call for dishes to be cooked at the same temperature.

And as for providing inspiration, it is so utterly, joyfully Christmasy that halfway through skimming it, I starting singing carols.

The cookbook includes some British mainstays, such as mince pies, sausage pies, roast goose, Yorkshire pudding (or puds, as Oliver calls them), and curry.

The vegetarian crowd is well served with recipes that thankfully go well beyond Tofurkey, including a decadent cheese pie, made with a buttery chestnut pastry, Brussels sprouts, and hazelnuts. And, as a bonus, the leftovers keep very well—a hallmark of great holiday food. (They should last at least until those New Year’s resolutions.)

Potatoes get their own section, including recipes for creamy Pommes Anna with a little horseradish and thyme twist and Best Roast Potatoes, gently perfumed by herbs and roasted, caramelized whole garlic cloves. The recipe for Balsamic Potatoes, which I have yet to try, calls for a whopping 3/4 cup of “cheap balsamic vinegar.” If it seems like a lot, summon a bit of trust; Oliver notes, “The volume of balsamic used here requires you to have faith. Trust me—incredible things will happen.”

You’re in good hands with Oliver as your guide.

Julia Huang contributed to this report.

(David Loftus)

Roast Beef With a Delicious Pulled Meat Gravy

Forerib is such an exciting and beautiful cut of meat to cook. The subtle seasoning of ground ginger is absolutely sublime, and with tender pulled meat and Barolo gravy on the side, this meal is a real celebration of brilliant beef.

Serves 12

Cooking time: 3 hours 30 minutes

  • One 9-pound forerib of beef, French trimmed, chine bone removed, cap removed and reserved, fat tied back on
  • Olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 onions
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 glass of red wine, ideally Barolo
  • 1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour

Buy your beef from the butcher, and ask for local, grass-fed, well-marbled meat. Put in your order a month in advance so they can hang the meat for you, for better flavor and tenderness. Ask for a French-trimmed forerib with the chine bone removed and the fat tied back on, and ask them to reserve the removed cap meat for you, too. Get your forerib and cap out of the fridge 2 hours before you want to cook them, to let them come up to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Drizzle both pieces of meat with oil. Mix the ground ginger with 2 teaspoons each of sea salt and black pepper, then rub all over both pieces of meat. Place the cap meat in a large roasting pan. Peel the onions, wash the carrots, then roughly chop with the celery and scatter into the pan with the bay leaves, rosemary sprigs, a good few dashes of Worcestershire sauce, the red wine, and the flour. Mix everything up, then place the pan on the bottom shelf of the oven. Sit the forerib directly on the bars above, so the cap pan catches all the flavorsome fat that drips out.

Roast the forerib for around 2 hours to 2 hours 15 minutes for medium, or give it up to an extra 30 minutes if you prefer it more well done (if using a meat thermometer, you want to reach an internal temperature of 140 F or 160 F). Roast the cap meat for the same time.

Remove the forerib to a platter, cover with aluminum foil, and leave to rest for 1 hour 30 minutes before serving. Skim away most of the fat from the cap pan into a jar, cool, and place in the fridge for tasty cooking another day. Pick out and discard the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs, add 3 cups of boiling kettle water, cover with aluminum foil, and return to the oven for around 1 hour 15 minutes, or until the meat is pullable—the time can vary depending on the animal, so use your instincts.

Use two forks to pull and shred the meat in the pan, discarding any sinew and wobbly bits, then either mix the pulled meat back through the flavorsome veggies and gravy, or sieve and serve the gravy in a pitcher on the side, loosening if needed. Carve the forerib, and serve both meats with all the usual trimmings, particularly Yorkshire puds and Horseradish sauce.

(David Loftus)

Winter Bombe (Chocolate, Cherries Vin Santo, Panettone, and Pistachios

Get-ahead desserts are great. I make this frozen classic every year without fail. It looks amazing, is crazy delicious, and is a clever assembly job. It’s a sort of cross between a summer pud and an Arctic roll, and it’s sure to wow.

Serves 12

Total time: 20 minutes plus freezing 

  • Two 1-pound tubs of quality vanilla ice cream
  • 2 pounds panettone
  • 1/2 cup Vin Santo
  • 3 heaping tablespoons quality raspberry jam
  • 3 1/2 ounces canned cherries, in juice
  • 2 1/2 ounces candied clementines (or other candied fruit)
  • 1 clementine
  • 1 3/4 ounces unsalted shelled pistachios
  • 10 ounces quality dark chocolate (70%)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Get the ice cream out of the freezer so it can soften a little while you get things ready. Line an 8-cup pudding bowl with three layers of plastic wrap. Use a serrated knife to slice four 3/4-inch-thick rounds off your panettone, then cut them in half. You’ll have some panettone left over, so keep this for another day. Arrange six of your panettone slices in a single layer around the inside of the bowl, pushing them down if they overlap. Drizzle some of the Vin Santo onto the panettone so it soaks in, then use the back of a spoon to spread the jam all over it.

Drain the cherries, and thinly slice the candied clementines. Finely grate the fresh clementine zest and put aside, then peel and finely slice the clementine into rounds. Spoon one tub of ice cream into the bowl, spreading it around in a thick layer. Sprinkle in the pistachios, cherries, and candied fruit, then layer on the clementine slices. Add the other tub of ice cream. Spread it out, working quickly so the ice cream doesn’t completely melt. Put the remaining two panettone slices on top of the ice cream, drizzle over the rest of the Vin Santo, then cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Press a plate down on top to push and compact everything down, pop a weight on, then freeze overnight, or until needed.

Around 20 minutes before you want to serve it, unwrap your amazing winter bombe, carefully turn it out onto a beautiful serving dish, then leave to thaw slightly (I tend to transfer my bombe from the freezer to the fridge just before serving up the main to give it a head start). Snap up the chocolate, place in a heatproof bowl with the butter over a pan of gently simmering water on a low heat, and leave to melt. Once nicely melted, stir in the reserved clementine zest, then pour the chocolate over the pudding so it oozes down the sides and looks super-tempting and delicious. Serve up any extra sauce in a little pitcher.

Excerpted from the book “Jamie Oliver’s Christmas Cookbook.” Copyright 2017 by Jamie Oliver. Reprinted with permission from Flatiron Books. All rights reserved. Photography by David Loftus.