When you’ve got a surname like mine there is no pun, rhyme or gag you haven’t heard. Until last week this is, when Slack’s Hacks was born. I can take absolutely no credit; my old friend and long time tormentor came up with it, darling that he is. He was after a few foodie tips for improving Christmas cooking and the poetry/humour of it was more than his comic mind could resist. After nearly 40 years, I’ve come to terms with my surname and so I am able to not only embrace the mockery of Slack’s Hacks, but steal it for my own. Here then, are my Slack’s Festive Hack’s to make your veg sing this Christmastime.

 

radicchio

Slack’s Hack #1: Get some radicchio (this one is from Natoora) your plate. It’s crisp, savoury and grown up: a refreshing alternative to the nursery food vibes of roasted, gravy-soaked veg. Delicious dressed with a little olive oil, honey and salt and served with turkey.

Slack’s Hack #2: DO NOT BOIL SPROUTS. Halve and steam them for 3 minutes whilst you fry some pancetta and vac-packed fresh chestnuts in butter in a large pan. Add the steamed sprouts to the pan and cook for a further 3-4 minutes. Serve and fall in love with sprouts again.

sprouts
quince

Slack’s Hack #3: They may look peculiar, but quince are a terrific addition to your festive plate. Peel, slice into quarters (carefully – they are rock hard) and simmer in water for 45 minutes until soft. Drain then pan-fry in butter until golden brown. Serve atop turkey, game birds or with pork sausages.

Slack’s Hack #4: DO NOT BOIL CARROTS. (There’s a theme here.) Instead, use a speed peeler to make carrot ribbons then sauté for 3 minutes in 2 tbsp water and 2 tbsp butter (another theme). By the time the water evaporates you’ll have perfectly cooked buttered carrot ribbons. Heaven!

carrots

Slack’s Hack #5: For extra fluffy and crispy roast spuds (these are my purple skinned main crops), par boil them for 6 minutes, drain, then freeze on a tray. When ready to cook, get some duck fat smoking hot in the oven then tip the frozen spuds in and cook until golden. You’ll never taste a more crispy-on-the-outside-fluffy-in-the-middle spud.

Slack’s Hack #6: Finely slice your cabbage (this one’s a January King from Riverford, not mine more’s the pity – do you imagine I’d be so nonchalant had I grown this beauty myself?). Stir fry with leftover turkey strips, soy sauce, ginger and chilli for a quick leftover supper.

Slack’s Hack #7: Red currant jelly is the best thing you can do for your gravy. Add a tablespoon to your reduced stock and white wine for instant gloss, colour, zing and sweetness.

So, armed with those tips and tricks, I leave you to enjoy your turkey dinners and wish you all a very Merry Christmas.