FOR many, Christmas Dinner is the biggest meal of the year – not just in terms of size but also in terms of importance.

Naturally those left in charge of cooking it can feel the pressure, not to mention the heat in the kitchen – and it’s even worse if you’ve never cooked for the big day before.

So how can you make sure that you don’t need a straw to eat the vegetables, or that Granddad doesn’t wear out his false teeth chewing the turkey? Well, by following Taste’s step by step guide for Christmas dinner, you will find that everything goes off without a hitch.

This Christmas guide will hold your hand every step of the way, from buying the right sized turkey (come on, you’re leaving it a little late), to carving it and rustling up something for Boxing Day with the leftovers. There is even a scrumptious stuffing recipe thrown in for good measure.

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Get the best from your bird If you can, choose organic – you’ll taste the difference and know that the bird has been well reared. Visit to source it locally, along with the rest of the ingredients.

Another tip to make sure your turkey is still being talked about next Christmas is to leave the bird to rest for an hour after cooking. This allows the juices to soak back into the meat and also gives you time to cook the accompaniments.

During this time make sure the bird is covered with foil and clean tea towels to retain the heat.

Meal planner 9am – preheat your oven to 190C, 375F, Gas 5.

9.30am – brush bird with oil or butter and stuff (if there are giblets make sure you remove them).

9.40am – put the bird in the oven covered in foil. If you’re having pigs in blankets, prepare now.

12.05pm – take the foil off the bird and put it back in the oven.

12.40pm – start peeling the potatoes 12.50pm – take the bird out of the oven to rest, check it’s cooked. Turn the oven up to 200C, 400F, Gas 6 and put the roasting tin of fat in the oven. Boil the potatoes.

1pm – take potatoes off the boil and place in the roasting tin.

If you’re having parsnips put in with potatoes.

1.30pm – put your pigs in blankets in the roasting tin with potatoes.

Start boiling the sprouts, carrots and other vegetables.

1.45pm – take the stuffing out of the bird. If you like it crispy, transfer to a dish and return to oven.

1.55pm – remove everything from the oven and put in serving dishes. Carve the bird.

2pm – dinner is served!

Clever carving After you’ve left your bird to rest, cut away any string, take away the skewer and put on a serving plate.

Remove the legs by bending backwards then force the knife between the end of each thigh bone and body, cut and twist until the legs are free. Set aside.

Keep the bird stable using a carving fork then make a cut into the breast above the wing.

Cut all the way to the bone. Carve the breast meat in long, thin downward slices and put on a warm serving plate.

Carry on cutting down to the bone changing your knife angle to the contours of the bird.

Hold the drumsticks at the knuckle end of each leg and cut the skin between the drumsticks and thighs until you reach the joint. Twist the knife through the joints leaving separate drumsticks and thighs. Then carve thin slices of meat from the thighs and add to the serving plate.

Sage and onion stuffing - Serves 4-6 Four large onions 120g fresh breadcrumbs 35g butter 1 Egg One tsp dried sage Salt and black pepper Quarter the onions and cook in boiling water until tender (approximately five minutes). Drain and finely chop the onions, then mix thoroughly with the breadcrumbs, sage, seasoning, butter and the yolk of an egg. Then stuff the mixture into the bird.

Post Roast Turkey Broth - Serves 4-5 Wondering what to do with the Christmas leftovers? This recipe from Gold Top milk should make sure nothing goes to waste and provide a tasty soup for Boxing day.

1 litre home made turkey stock (see below) 1 large carrot, peeled and diced 2 sticks celery, diced 50g long grain rice 450ml milk 200g cooked turkey, shredded 200g leftover roast potatoes (and cooked carrot and parsnip, if you like) 1 small lemon, grated rind and juice Salt and freshly ground black pepper 100g Savoy cabbage, finely shredded Pour the stock into a large pan. Bring to the boil, add the carrot, celery and rice and simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the milk, turkey and vegetables, bring back to the boil, add lemon rind and juice and seasoning. Bring back to the boil and sprinkle the cabbage on top in a layer. Half cover with a lid and simmer for five minutes until the cabbage is tender. Spoon into hot soup bowls.

Turkey stock Put the carcass from a roast turkey in a large deep pan. Add an unpeeled, quartered onion, one large carrot, and once celery stick (cut into chunks), two bay leaves, a few thyme sprigs, eight black peppercorns, half tsp salt and two litres cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer, half-covered for 2 hours. Cool for half an hour, strain off the bones and vegetables and discard.