With the pressure to whip up a perfectly golden bird – crisp on the outside, juicy in the middle – along with expertly cooked trimmings, a homemade dessert and even some kind of starter for family and extended family, it’s no surprise that Christmas Day can seem like a stressful time-trial rather than a relaxed, jolly affair with the people you love the most.

Michelin star chefs probably don’t have this problem, so we asked Marcus Wareing, who’s just released his latest cookbook Marcus Everyday, for his festive cooking advice.

Marcus Wareing (Susan Bell/PA)
Marcus Wareing (Susan Bell/PA)

Marcus Wareing Christmas cooking advice

To start with, the MasterChef: The Professionals judge thinks we’re all putting way too much pressure on ourselves. “Everyone is really funny about Christmas Day. It’s one of the most tiring days of the year and if anyone’s got to cook on Christmas Day, they don’t really enjoy it. It is a massive chore and everyone’s dressed up in their nice clothes trying to cook a roast. It’s like hell!”

So what’s his advice for a less stress? Well, first – rethink the turkey. “Treat it like a normal roast dinner, don’t buy something too big; I never understand why people buy a turkey!” he says. “If you have a family of five or six you can buy a chicken. A turkey roast is the same as a chicken – why do we buy a bird that’s four times bigger?! It always makes me laugh.

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“If you do buy something really big [like a turkey], get your butcher to take the legs off the crown, de-bone the legs, roll them up separately and roast them individually. And just roast the breasts on the crown.

“I cook my turkey that way every year. The larger the bird, the longer it’s going to take to cook, and the breasts go dry.”

The truth is, you could probably make half as much food and it would still be too much. It’s your Christmas Day too, so make sure you have time to relax too.

“Everyone tries too hard,” Wareing adds. “Don’t cook too much food, write your menu out, plan it, get as much done two or three days before, and make Christmas Day an easy day. Enjoy it!”

Need more festive advice when feeling stressed? Read Wise Living’s guide to a stress-free Christmas.

Marcus Everyday by Marcus Wareing, photography by Susan Bell, is published by HarperCollins, priced £20. Available now.