Frosty about frozen? Let it go as freezer food becomes hotter than ever this festive season

Chef Jacqueline (Jak) O'Donnell, owner of The Sisters Restaurant, cooking and testing supermarket Christmas Food. (Andrew Cawley)

FROZEN food is hotter than ever with more and more of us reaching into their freezer on Christmas Day.

From budget to high-end, the freezer aisles of our stores are groaning with festive food options, from seafood and stuffing to parsnips, pigs in blankets and party food.

Frozen food has become big business over the last decade, with the market set to top £10 billion, according to the British Frozen Food Federation.

Chief executive John Hyman said: “More and more people are heading to the frozen food aisles where they know they can get restaurant-quality products to enjoy at home.

“Frozen makes it easier to access convenient and nutritious food.”

But are they any good? Can frozen really beat fresh?

We asked chef Jacqueline O’Donnell, who starred on the Great British Menu and owns The Sisters restaurant in Glasgow, to put some key frozen options to the test and see if a frozen festive feast can result in a Christmas cracker.

Jacqueline said: “At this time of year, the cook on the Christmas day duty is starting to plan and prepare and it can become overwhelming.

“Frozen Christmas dinner is possibly not something lots of people think about, but it’s a very practical option.

“Not only will it save you a last minute-dash at the supermarket in Christmas week when they’re like something out of Armageddon, but it can actually be fresher, cheaper, more practical and economical than cooking from fresh.

“Preparation of all of the vegetables is already done, not to mention the elimination of waste that happens when buying fresh and frantically having to look at dates to check in supermarkets if the sprouts will last.

“I’ll be the Christmas chef again this year…the family feel quite intimidated as I’m the professional – but the deal is I cook with a sherry in hand, the kids serve and the grannies wash up!

“After this test, I’ll certainly consider some frozen ingredients to make it a bit less stressful – and so I can have a second sherry!”

 

Jack’s top tips

Prawns

Add a side salad and some Marie Rose sauce to make a delicious prawn cocktail or some chilli garlic butter for a firey starter.

Scallops

Season with salt, white pepper, butter and a squeeze of half a lime or maybe a wee slice of black pudding topped with scallops and chive creme fraiche.

Parsnips

A wee drizzle of honey and black pepper on parsnips just adds even more great flavour.

Sprouts

Some chopped up crispy bacon and a spoonful of chopped sage tossed through the green
jewels at the last minute is genius.

Desserts

Add real chocolate and glitter for the wow factor. Dessert should always be a showstopper.

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