HomeEntertaining10 Top Chefs Reveal Top Christmas Cooking Tips From faster cooking times to getting creative in the kitchen, 10 top chefs reveal their top last-minute tips to perfecting the Christmas feast. 1 Jacob Kenedy, chef patron of Bocca di Lupo, Gelupo On speedy success remove • Cook braises ahead – make your gravy (or at least the stock), braise the cabbage, stew the cranberries at least a day before. Stuffing too. • Plan your kitchen time – good programming will reduce the time you need to actually cook. • Shorten your meal – a carefully considered feast of fewer dishes will actually make for a better meal, as well as quicker to prepare. • Fry your turkey, to reduce cooking time. • Remember to defrost anything frozen, before attempting to cook it. And let it come to room temperature in advance for less time in the oven. • Let your friends and family help. It brings them together, and let’s you off the hook. • Prepare breakfast the day before, so on the day you have only one meal to fret about. • Drink while you cook, time will at least seem to go faster. But not too much, or you’ll find nothing is done when it’s time to serve (except, to have another glass). 2 Calum Franklin, Rosewood Hotel On making light work of leftovers • Turn your left over Christmas day dinner into a festive sausage roll, the perfect way to feast on all the leftovers. • Roll out puff pastry, and mix sausage meat, stuffing, chopped turkey and sage and a little freshly ground white pepper. Brush the pastry with egg all across top then shape the meat into a long sausage shape. • Fold the long edge all the way over the sausage joining it to the puff on the other side and brush the roll with the remaining egg wash and scatter the sesame seeds all over. • Bake on a greaseproof lined oven tray for 25 minutes, then rest for 5 min and cut into portions. 3 Ella Mills, Deliciously Ella On getting creative and branching out with veg • We tend to feast so there aren’t normally tons of leftovers, but I usually throw them all the roast veg into a warm salad with black rice, raisins, toasted almonds and a tahini dressing. It’s simple but delicious Chop and peel all the veg the day while you watch Christmas movies • I think Christmas is a time for relaxing and enjoying cooking and feasting with friends and family, but it’s easy to still get your five-a-day. Just find interesting, flavoursome ways to cook your veg and add an extra scoop of them to your plate. • Research recipes and find great flavour combinations using spices and different cooking techniques, as well as adding other ingredients like toasted hazelnuts, almonds, great dressings and fresh herbs. Things like whole roasted cauliflower with spiced crusts are great as centre pieces. • Brussel sprouts! They’re such a Christmas staple and too often they’re just boiled, which I think taste terrible. Try out some new ways of making them instead. I love roasting them so that the outside browns and goes a little crispy. I normally roast them with little potatoes, hazelnuts and pomegranates with a sprinkling of chili and a drizzle of maple syrup, just to soften the tartness of them. 4 Eran Tibi, Bala Baya On planning ahead • Most importantly, plan the meal in such a way you’ll put all the feast on the table in one go and eat together. In last few years I tend to over complicate the menu which meant I’m missing out the whole night, jumping in and out of the kitchen. • Cook to impress, big bold flavours and cuts of meat. Always cater 50% more as the leftovers are the real treat! • Carving meat has a simple rule behind it. Have a look at the way the sinew moves and slice against it. I like to personally carve without a knife and with a fork or a pair of tongs to rip pieces of the meat out. That way you get the whole area of this cut and each one will be different. Make it more intriguing. • Getting ready 2/3 days in advance is the key. Marinade, cure, slice, all the chopping etc all done up to the day before. And on the day just mix it all up and throw the roast to the oven allowing a good resting time. • Making vegetables the star: We are always championing vegetables here at Bala Baya and they should never be less than stunning. Cut them differently from one another and cook them in varying ways – some blanched, some roasted, a few grilled. Make sure your dressing has all the strong flavours of sweet, sour and salty! Use toasted whole spice seeds to give crunch and floral notes at the end. 5 Pratap Chanhal, Flavour Bastard On making vegetables star of the show • Use nuts and spices to jazz up dishes like chestnuts & bacon with sprouts, parsnips with maple & pecans, carrots with caraway and cumin 6 Natasha Cooke and Lucy Pedder, Lupins On keeping everything but the turkey dry • Turkey has a reputation of being dry but it doesn’t have to be; if you make sure to brine the turkey, then it will ensure it doesn’t dry up. Also, if you’re feeling a little brave and adventurous, then we recommend looking into a turkey fryer which keeps the meat really moist- so tasty and you won’t look back. • Our top tip for the day though would be not to operate anything or work in the kitchen once you’ve had a few drinks on Christmas morning! Try not to get too drunk before beginning the cooking! If you prep beforehand, you can have the best of both worlds. 7 Richard Bainbridge, Benedicts On roaring roast success • This year we have been practising roasting whole turkeys and feel we have got it down to a fine art. A 6.9 kilo turkey being roasted in a 200°C oven for 2 hours and 10 minutes on a bed of root vegetables and chicken stock then allowing the bird to rest for over 1 hour is the perfect recipe for keeping the breasts as well as the legs moist. • For crispy roast potatoes, preheat your oven to 200°C and have a tray of vegetable oil heating up until smoking hot. Next you need to boil the potatoes in heavily salted water for approximately 10 minutes or until your potatoes are just cooked, agitate the potatoes a colander, season well with table salt and carefully place into your pan of smoking oil. • Gently move them around so they are coated all over with oil, place back in the oven and leave for a minimum of 20 minutes before touching to allow caramelisation of your potatoes. After which point you should be able to toss them around and cook for another 20 minutes until golden and crisp. 8 Dom Robinson, Blackbird On top turkey • Never cook your turkey as long as the instructions on the packet, it will be overcooked for sure! When you think it might be done, prick the thickest part of the leg with a metal skewer, if the juice runs clear the bird is done. • It also helps if you can leave the bird out of the fridge for a couple of hours before cooking, this will raise the temperature slightly and mean less cooking time. On Christmas Eve prep • Think like a restaurant chef and do as much prep as possible for Christmas lunch the day before. Peel and prep all the vegetables, wrap your pigs in blankets and get the bird in the tray ready to go. • There is nothing worse than waking up on Christmas morning, slightly hungover with everything to do! 9 Ronnie Kimbugwe On how many hands make light work • The best tip I can give is get everyone involved! Christmas is about family, so delegate different components of the festive feast to different family members. Not only does it bring everyone together, more often than not it means more people showing off their culinary prowess. • Surely if an aunt has done the roasties, and cousin brings a pud, little Tarquin can bring his mince pies. Then, whoever is taking the lead on the big day isn’t under pressure to do it all alone. 10 Oliver Brown, Duck Duck Goose On gorgeous goose • Always season the cavity of you festive bird really well. And if you feeling adventurous add some herbs and spices. Ground Cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper along with salt will impart a surprising amount flavor to your meat. • If your goose arrives trussed remove the string, and let the bird hang loose. It’ll cook more evenly and in less time. • Be sure to remove the wings and get a bird with giblets. Roast them in a hot oven and add to your gravy. • Keep any of the fat rendered from the bird when its cooked this will make the best roasties in the world!