Surrey Street Christmas: It’s all about the trimmings


By - Monday 19th December, 2016

What goes with turkey? Some seasonal suggestions from historic Surrey Street market


Christmas time is here and that means that it’s time for lots of food. When people think of the big day, they think of turkey first, and we’re surrounded by suggestions on how to get the best out of our bird. What goes along with it can all get a bit unimaginative.

But for me it’s all about the accompaniments – especially the roast potatoes and (controversially for some) the much-derided sprouts. After all, a turkey’s a turkey: it’s the trimmings that can take it to a whole new level.

For these festive Surrey Street treats, I’m using the market’s potatoes and Brussels sprouts. To try to be helpful, I’ve split each recipe up into what you can do before and what you have to do on the day so that you can spend more time out of the kitchen. I haven’t included amounts, though, because it’ll all depend on how many you need to feed. I’ve also taken inspiration from all of the food programmes that I watch (perhaps a little obsessively), particularly the festive ones, so these recipes are a mish-mash of tips from some of my favourite TV cooks.

The recipe: prep-ahead roast potatoes

The whole idea of prepping your potatoes the day before is an idea that I’ve borrowed from Mary Berry.

Photo public domain.

Ingredients from the market: potatoes.

Ingredients from the kitchen: vegetable (or sunflower) oil.

A day before

  1. Peel and chop your potatoes. I borrow a Nigella suggestion to get maximum surface area for crisping up. I chop them in half long-ways, then take Nigella’s advice and slice them into three sections, as if you were chopping them into 3D triangles.
  2. Put them in a big pan of salted water (sometimes, if I fancy it, I might also prick a peeled garlic clove or two and put those in the water too). Then bring the water to the boil.
  3. How long you boil your potatoes for will depend on how many you have – either way you’ll need to keep them in until you can put a knife in and out of one easily enough.
  4. Now you have to drain them, which doesn’t sound important, but it really is: you need to completely drain them, so that there’s no water left in them at all. (I borrowed this from Tom Kerridge.) So that means making the room to spread them out rather than just leaving them in the colander. You could lay them out on wire racks, as if you were cooling cakes. Then leave them until they’re cold.

Now you have to store them away. I lay them out on a baking tray and baking paper and leave them uncovered in the fridge until I need them. (My Good Food magazine says that you can even put them in the freezer – you’ll just have to let them cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes longer.)

The big day

When?

I usually get my roast potatoes in once I’ve taken the meat out to rest. (If you cover it in some foil and a tea towel, it’ll keep its heat before you carve it.)

When they’re ready, you should have everything else ready to take out to the table.

How?

  1. If I were being true to Nigella, at this point I’d tell you to put goose fat into the roasting tray that you’re going to use. (And if you like them that way, go for it.) But I just stick to pouring a layer of basic vegetable oil into the tray, then putting that into the already hot oven. (For the potatoes, I usually have it around 220 degrees.)
  2. After around 10 minutes, once the oil is hot, carefully lay your potatoes (straight from the fridge or freezer) into the oil. But watch out because the combination of cold potato and hot oil can really make the oil spit. Make sure that you’re not crowding too many on the tray – spread them out in one layer, then (carefully again) coat them in some of the oil.
  3. Put them in the oven for around an hour, or until golden enough for you, remembering to turn them every now and again so that you get each side crispy. Then serve.

The recipe: bacon Brussels sprouts

Now, this is pimping up your sprouts in true Nigella style.

Ingredients from the market: Brussels sprouts.

Ingredients from the kitchen: bacon, butter, wine, onion, chestnuts.

A day before

  1. Peel your sprouts. Now, lots of people put little crosses into the bottom of them, but – on the advice of Mr Ramsay – unless it’s a whopper of a sprout, I don’t. By putting the cross in, you’re just encouraging water to get into the sprout and make it the sort of soggy sprout that people hate.
  2. Pop them into a pan of boiling water for five minutes. You’re going to heat them again on the day, so don’t worry if they still have a little bit of bite. After five minutes, take them out and run them under the cold tap so that they stop cooking.
  3. Now you’ve got a lot of chopping to do, so getting it all out of the way before the heat of the big day makes things much easier. Finely chop some onion, break up some chestnuts and slice bacon into little rectangles. Then store them all separately and stick them in the fridge.
  4. Once your sprouts are completely cool, put them in the fridge too.

The big day

When?

This is one of the last things to do because you want the sprouts to come out hot to the table. To help things along, take everything out of the fridge a while before so that you’re starting with it at room temperature.

How?

  1. Put a pan on the hob and throw in your bacon pieces – keep frying them until they’re crisp enough for you. Once they’re ready tip them out into a bowl.
  2. Now you should have meaty flavour stuck to your pan, so while it’s still on the heat pour in a quick slug of either water or wine. It’ll bubble up a bit and you can stir around to scrape any of the meaty bits up off the pan. (If you go for wine, make sure that you let it bubble enough to cook the alcohol off.)
  3. Once there’s not much liquid left in the pan, add a touch of butter then add your onions. Let them soften for a few minutes.
  4. Tip in your sprouts, chestnuts and bacon then stir everything until it’s all hot and coated. Then serve them in a big bowl on the table.

All that’s left to do is to eat your Surrey Street treats, enjoy your festive feast and have a very merry Christmas.

Jess Bashford

Jess Bashford

Jess Bashford is a writer at a brand language consultancy and an English literature and creative writing graduate. She’s passionate about showing that Croydon is a great place to live and excited to delve into Croydon’s cultural side. She loves all things wordy and foody.

More Posts





  • Anne Giles

    Delicious! Though we only have turkey when we eat out. My husband hates sprouts, although I love them. At home we usually have duck, venison, partridge or pheasant. My mother used to cook goose or duck. In Argentina it is customary to have suckling pig and many years’ ago in the U.K. it was wild boar!