Stephen Harris: Christmas lunch at The Sportsman

Stephen Harris with is son
Telegraph Weekend’s chef Stephen Harris welcomes us to his pub in Kent and shares the recipes he’ll be cooking on the big day  Credit: Andrew Crowley

I got quite a shock the first time my family and I celebrated Christmas at The Sportsman. It was the morning of December 25, the restaurant was closed, and I was cooking our lunch in the kitchen – and, out of the blue, someone knocked on the window to ask what time we opened.

Stephen enjoys cooking for his partner Emma and his three-year-old son Stanley on Christmas day Credit: Andrew Crowley

I hadn’t realised the extent to which pubs are both public and private spaces for the people who own them, and certainly wasn’t prepared for the waves of people who parked in our car park, went for a walk and then expected to drop in for a pint afterwards. 

Stanley was fascinated with the Christmas tree baubles which he thought looked like rubies  Credit: Andrew Crowley

Having been the Christmas Day cook at home, with my brother Phillip, since 1987, I wasn’t aware of this tradition of going for a walk, followed by a drink before lunch. Couldn’t they manage without the pub for just one day? For us, it felt like Christmas at the Queen Vic, but, thankfully, without the drama. 

Browning the meat seals in the juices so the goose stays tender and moist Credit: Andrew Crowley

It’s true that I get to cook our family’s Christmas dinner in a professional kitchen, but what I’ve learnt is key for home cooks too: prepare as much as possible before the event. Have the gravy, cranberry sauce and confit goose legs all cooked beforehand. Peel your spuds and prep your veg on Christmas Eve.

Stanley loves helping to decorate the tree Credit: Andrew Crowley

You may even be able to use the great outdoors as a fridge extension – but be prepared to defend your goods from wildlife. And don’t forget to take your bird out of the fridge as early as possible to come up to room temperature. The difference between cooking a bird that is 15C rather than 3C is huge. Then enjoy your walk (and your pint) – and have a very Happy Christmas!

Stephen Harris's Christmas lunch

Classic roast goose with thyme gravy

A classic roast goose with a garlic, thyme and white wine gravy Credit: Andrew Crowley

Confit goose leg

Rich and tender goose legs with crispy, golden skin Credit: Andrew Crowley

Pork, apple and hazelnut stuffing

These balls of mince pork, thyme, apple puree and crunchy toasted hazelnuts make the perfect side so a big roast dinner Credit: Andrew Crowley

Cranberry sauce

This classic cranberry sauce is an essential addition to your Christmas lunch and leftover sandwiches Credit: Andrew Crowley

Pigs in blankets

Sausages wrapped in bacon and roasted until crisp Credit: Andrew Crowley

Citrus and spice, and all things nice: Stephen Harris' perfect mandarin recipes 

Stephen Harris finds the perfect balance between sweet and sharp with his mandarin recipes Credit: Andrew Twort and Annie Hudson