24 Dec 2018

Top chef's Christmas dinner tips: 'Don't practise on people'

7:44 pm on 24 December 2018

Cooking on the festive day can be stressful but owner of Boulcott Street Bistro in Wellington, Rex Morgan, says it doesn't have to be that way.

Rex Morgan, chef and owner of Boulcott Street Bistro, Wellington.

Rex Morgan, chef and owner of Boulcott Street Bistro, Wellington. Photo: RNZ / Charlie Dreaver

His first tip to make the cook's life easier is to prepare food the day before so it's ready to be thrown on the barbecue with no fuss, he says.

And don't try a new recipe.

"Don't practise on people - do something you know how to do, or go get advice," he says.

"Sure it's Christmas, but it's just another day and it's better to have something nice you've done before and everyone enjoys it."

If you really want to make sure to avoid a dinner disaster, he recommends keeping some backup meat in the freezer, since shops will be closed.

Christmas ham with mushrooms and vegetables

Whatever you do while cooking for Christmas dinner, don't try a new recipe. Photo: 123rf

Some food can be made days in advance, like a glazed ham, to serve later in the evening with bread rolls and salad, when people get peckish.

For an extra treat, add some wine you'd like to drink at Christmas to the glaze.

But his biggest tip is to remember to spend Christmas with family rather than slaving away in the kitchen.

Rex Morgan's Easy Homemade Glazed Ham

2kg ham (skin on if possible)


  • 1 cup liquid honey
  • 2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
  • 4 tablespoons orange juice or favourite wine
  • Pinch of ground cloves and cinnamon

Score ham all over with a sharp knife. Place onto a roasting dish with a little water to stop glaze burning. Preheat oven to 190C.

Gently heat glaze ingredients until warm and brush half the glaze over the ham. Place on roasting tray in oven for 10 minutes, then brush with remaining glaze, bake in the oven for 10-15 minutes more.

(If the ham is bigger, make more glaze, and the ham may need longer in the oven.)

Leave to cool. Enjoy!