With Christmas literally around the corner, we look at some of the cooking tips from top chefs at high-end restaurants and hotels to make that exquisite Christmas dinner.
Kerth Gumbs, Executive Chef of Ormer Mayfair and BBC Two’s Great British Menu 2020 Finalist
“As well as brining your turkey to avoid it being bland and dry, I also like to prepare a butter and spice mixture (it can be any spice you like) to rub over it before cooking. Keeping the butter cold allows me to roll it out with a rolling pin. Then, by running my fingers under the skin of the turkey breast, I create a gap that allows me to spread the butter mixture directly on to the flesh of the bird. This is a very good way to help the meat stay moist, tender and fragrant.”
Vivek Singh, Executive Chef and CEO of The Cinnamon Collection
“I’m a firm believer in trying different things – it’s always exciting when you accidentally discover something that tastes amazing. This year, why not try sprinkling spice onto your roasts? It will add a whole new dimension. You can also marinade meats in spice mixes overnight to bring new layers of flavour.”
Callum Graham, Head Chef of Bohemia at The Club Hotel & Spa, Jersey
”Getting your timings right is one of the hardest things for a lot of people when it comes to cooking on Christmas Day. I’d recommend writing a list of everything you need to do with times against each activity, from when the oven needs to go on and be pre-heated, right through to taking out the turkey and allocating resting time. It sounds simple, but it can be really helpful to have it all down on paper, so nothing gets forgotten.
“Preparation is really key for Christmas Day and anything you can prepare ahead of time you should do. Alongside peeling and cutting your vegetables on Christmas Eve, you could also make your cauliflower cheese so that it’s ready to just pop into the oven the next day. My top tip would be to make your Yorkshire pudding batter 24 hours before its needed, as that gives it ample time to rest and helps ensure you’ll get a good rise.”
Jorjon Colazo, Head Chef of Aquavit London
“To make sure you get really crisp potatoes, once you’ve par-boiled them, leave them to cool down slowly to room temperature before putting them in the oven. This helps the potatoes to dry out a little, and if there’s less moisture when they go in the oven, they will end up super crisp on the outside, and perfectly fluffy on the inside.
“Make your life easier on the big day by doing as much prep as you can. I always opt for cold starters at Christmas that I can make the day before, like a prawn cocktail, for example. That way, you can just take them out of the fridge and put them on the table, and you’re ready to go, leaving you more time to focus on the important things. Also, make sure to put plenty of drinks in the fridge in the run-up to Christmas, so they’re nice and chilled. No one likes warm bubbles!”
Michael Carr, Head Chef of Fenchurch Restaurant, Sky Garden
“For something a little different this Christmas, why not opt for duck instead of turkey. I’d recommend removing the legs first and roasting them in a baking tray alongside some juniper and chopped carrots. Once the legs are almost cooked, lay the duck breast or crown on top so they can roast together and come out at the same time, and this way you won’t dry out the breast. Serve with red cabbage, sprouting broccoli, Brussels fried off with bacon, roast potatoes, and plenty of cranberry jam – delicious!”
Oliver Marlowe, Owner Chef Director, The Hunter’s Moon
“To make sure you don’t end up with a dry turkey on the big day, I’d recommend brining your bird in a 10% salt to water liquid mix overnight prior to cooking. The salt dissolves some of the muscle proteins, meaning the meat contracts less while in the oven so, therefore, it loses less moisture. It really gives a game-changing depth of flavour, and makes it very difficult to overcook, so there’s one less thing to worry about on the big day!”