Top Chefs Talk Christmas

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A few of our favourite chefs share their festive foodie tips…

1 Dan Doherty

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Duck & Waffle’s Dan Doherty definitely has a winning way with birds – especially turkey….

For the perfect turkey
Brine the bird before you cook it. This technique is by far the best way to get some flavour into the meat whilst keeping it really juicy.
For the best roast potatoes
Try cooking them in generous quantities of Iberico pork fat. They sell it in Waitrose, and it tastes so good.
For the ultimate gravy
Use all the juices that come out of your bird, don’t let them escape! Roast the turkey over a load of onions and herbs, then mash them all into the juices once the turkey is cooked. Add some wine and stock, and you’ll be well on your way.

2 Ben Tish

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Taking inspiration from his new Italian restaurant, Veneta, Ben Tish puts a Venetian spin on a few Christmas classics…

  • Use aromatic gin in a G&T – it’s something they do in the bars there. To infuse the gin, add lightly-toasted anise, cardamom, and cinnamon to the spirit and leave for 24 hours.
  • Serve roasted goose with creamy polenta, figs cooked in marsala, and sautéed black cabbage with soaked raisins.
  • Make a boozy hot chocolate with milk infused with aromatics like anise and cinnamon, then top with whipped cream and a shot of aged grappa.
  • For Christmas day breakfast, finish smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with soft butter whipped with truffle oil and shaved diced truffle and shavings of fresh truffle.

3 Andrew Clarke

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Brunswick House Cafe’s Andrew Clarke talks turkey alternatives…

Slow-roasted pork shoulder
Preferably Middle White, on the bone. Score the skin and rub liberally with Maldon salt, lemon zest and sage. Start in a hot oven first get a good crackling, turn the heat down low and cook all day (or overnight) until the meat falls off the bone.
Whole turbot or brill
Score the flesh, rub with Maldon salt, lemon, and plenty of olive oil, and bake for 15-25 minutes in a medium hot oven. At the restaurant, we’ve been serving this with a butter made from the heads of those expensive carabineros prawns. But a simple crab and seaweed butter would work just as well.
Rib of beef
Surely the king centrepiece of any meat-eater’s table. Be sure to buy a rare breed with some ageing. I always go for 70 days minimum, as I love my beef with a complex funk.

  • Rub with salt and cracked black pepper, start in a high oven, then lower the temperature once a nice crust has formed. Cook until the internal temperature registers 51°C on a meat thermometer. Rest well.
  • Serve with bone marrow, horseradish, and Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes – both cooked with the beef dripping.

Rack of venison.
There’s something quite medieval about this; certainly quite Scottish. Ask your butcher to French trim the rack, and cook it medium rare – there’s very little fat, so you’d be a fool to overcook it. Don’t ruin Christmas for everyone! Fruit and Indian-style chutneys are great with venison.
Goose or duck 
These are my personal favourites. I might take off the legs and wings and confit them first, then use the confit meat to make a stuffing with chestnuts and cranberries. And, with either of these birds, always use the rendered fat to cook your roast potatoes. It’s the law.

4 Michel Roux Jr

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A mulling masterclass from Michel Roux Jr

‘My tip would be to mull cider rather than wine. Gently warm a bottle of fermented cider (I normally buy mine in France) in a large saucepan with a few cinnamon sticks. Add some lemon juice and zest, and a couple of spoonfuls of rich brown sugar. Keep it warming on the hob, and add a splash of Calvados, and a slice or two of apple. It’s delicious – much better than classic mulled wine!’

5 Helene Darroze

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Dessert-lovers come into their element at Christmastime. Helene Darroze at The Connaught sweet talks us…

‘I have very fond memories of childhood Christmases with my grandparents in the family restaurant in Villeneuve de Marsan. For our family, Christmas Day was all about the classic Buche de Noel – a cake classically flavoured with vanilla, coffee and chocolate, made in the shape of a woodland log and decorated with light, mushroom-shaped meringues. Pure happiness!

In England, I confess to not being a huge fan of Christmas pudding, although I’ve grown to appreciate its subtly-balanced spices and the traditions that surround it. I much prefer sticky toffee pudding, for which I have an absolute weakness. My solution for The Connaught? To devise a recipe combining the dried fruits and heady alcohol of Christmas pudding with sticky toffee pudding’s deep caramel and vanilla flavours and lighter texture.’

6 Calum Franklin

Head Chef Calum Franklin at the Holborn Dining Rooms

When it comes to leftovers, Holborn Dining Room’s Calum Franklin offers up advice on creating a show-stopping pie…

‘Curried turkey pie is a major player in the layout of my Boxing Day eating. The curry sauce itself has to be more ‘chip shop curry’ than anything traditional, and the secret is to pack shredded turkey, ham and roasties into a really buttery shortcrust. Cook until the pastry’s deep golden and flaky. In order to experience it properly and get out of the washing up, it’s vital that this is eaten in front of the television whilst watching The Goonies, just prior to a nap.’

7 Richard Corrigan

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Over the years, the affable Richard Corrigan of Corrigan’s Mayfair has become widely known as a convivial host…

For the jolliest Boxing Day, he eschews cooking as much as possible, and thinks a great sandwich is the only way to go.  He starts with sourdough, layering it up generously with cold turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. For an bonus tasty morsel, he suggests crisping up the turkey skin in a hot pan with a little butter. To drink? A good glass of red.

Plus: For even more festive foodie tips, order the latest Christmas bumper issue of Good Things.

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