Culinary Christmas: Festive Tips From The UK’s Top Chefs

With Christmas fast approaching, here’s some top tips and practical advice from our favourite UK chefs on how to prepare your kitchen – from Jason Atherton’s tips on time-saving to Sat Bains’ ideal Boxing Day brunch.

Jason Atherton’s top tips for Christmas dinner

“Cooking Christmas dinner for your loved ones can be daunting but there are a few simple tricks that can make things easier without missing out on a delicious dinner full of flavour. Save yourself time on Christmas Day and have a starter that you can prepare ahead of time and serve cold such as a salad of smoked salmon with fennel, apple & radish and crème fraiche.”

Jason Atherton is Chef Patron of The Social Company

“Accompaniments such as bread sauce can be bought pre-prepared but it is simple to make from scratch and is guaranteed to taste better than the supermarket version. Use sourdough bread and infuse the milk with spices including cloves, cinnamon, mace and bay to add a depth of flavour.”

Click here to read the SLOAN! interview with Jason Atherton.

Greg Marchand’s top tips for Christmas Day

“I love to make duck rather than turkey. I tend to use ‘Challand’ duck; a big one that can feed six to eight people. Buy your duck a week in advance, then dry age it in the fridge so the skin becomes crispier. Roast with honey, fennel and coriander seeds.”

Greg Marchand is Chef Patron of Frenchie (Covent Garden and Rue de Nil), Frenchie Cave au Vin and FTG

“I also love to make Brussel sprouts more exciting by pan frying them with sliced kumquats. Don’t be afraid to use spices for the Christmas day meal – roast your carrots with Vadouvan (a mixture of curry and spices from Pondicherry in India), and seasoned bergamot juice. It makes the side dishes that bit more interesting.”

Click here to read our review of Frenchie Covent Garden.

Tom Aikens’ top tips for cranberries and Christmas curry

“Cranberries are one of my favourite festive ingredients. I always prepare lots of them so I have enough to go with cold roast turkey the next day. They are also delicious with leftover cold cuts in a Boxing Day sandwich, or as an addition to a turkey pie. Meanwhile, my favourite use of old, tired looking vegetables is a good old British vegetable curry, which can of course get funked up as much as you like. Cauliflower, broccoli, sweet potato, pumpkin, butternut, fennel, carrot, courgette, cabbage – anything goes. ”

Tom Aikens is chef founder of Tom’s Kitchen, which has sites in Chelsea, Canary Wharf and Birmingham

“Made with a meat or veg stock, coconut milk, natural yogurt – whatever takes your fancy. But then all the spices you can use are endless; cumin, caraway, turmeric, coriander, mace, fenugreek, mustard seeds, add some toasted seeds from nigella, sesame, pumpkin, sprouted grains. Add some red lentils or old fruit like banana apple or mango, it all works.”

Click here to read our review of Tom’s Kitchen Canary Wharf

Bryn Williams’ top tip for leftover Christmas cake

“A little controversial, but I like to remove the icing and marzipan from any leftover Christmas cake and then pan fry the cake in a drizzle of oil. Finish it off by throwing in a knob of butter and fry until crispy on the outside and moist in the middle. Serve it with bacon and it’s just like a deliciously rich fruit chutney.”

Bryn Williams – Chef Patron of Odette’s and Porth Eirias, and Executive Chef of Bryn Williams at Somerset House

Bryn Williams is the Chef Patron of Odette’s in Primrose Hill and Porth Eirias in Wales. He is also Executive Chef of Bryn Williams at Somerset House.

Click here to read our review of Bryn Williams at Somerset House.

Michael Caines’ top tips for Christmas extras

“Christmas for me is all about added extras – I like to roast my carrots in scented honey (lavender is my favourite) with a good helping of goose fat, and add slightly crispy rosemary, smoked pancetta and roasted chestnuts to my Brussel sprouts.”

Michael Caines is Chef Patron of Lympstone Manor in Devon

“Making your own stuffing from scratch is also so easy and so much more delicious than anything you can buy. I add a range of herbs and spices to onions, sausage meat, breadcrumbs and garlic and bind with egg yolk, before steaming for 25 minutes. It’s great the next day too!”

Paul Ainsworth’s top tips for Christmas side dishes

“At Christmas, be sure that you don’t solely focus on the meat; vegetables and side dishes are equally as important in creating the perfect Christmas dinner. Making simple but delicious tweaks to your dishes will take everything to the next level of luxury.”

Paul Ainsworth is Chef Patron of Number 6 in Padstow

“Adding truffle oil and parmesan to your cauliflower cheese or bacon pieces and chestnuts to your Brussel sprouts will enhance the flavours of the vegetables and have your guests going back for seconds.”

Michael Carr’s top tip for alternatives to roast potatoes

“One of my favourite things to do is make Hasselback potatoes, rather than the traditional roasties. I use tiny, new season potatoes which you baste with goose fat and add small pieces of bacon to before roasting.”

Michael Carr is Chef Patron of Restaurant 92 in Harrogate

“Using tiny potatoes means they crisp up nicely. To make the goose fat, brown off a block of goose fat with some butter, garlic, thyme and spices. Let it cool and set in the fridge, then dice it up and put into the scored potato cracks. Goes extra well with sprouts!”

Ellis Barrie’s top tips for Christmas carrots

“Cook your carrots in a litre of carrot juice with ½ a star anise, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, 1 cinnamon stick and one crushed cardamom. Once carrots are cooked remove from pan and reduce remaining carrot juice to 100ml liquid and pass through a sieve.”

Ellis Barrie is Chef Patron of the Marram Grass in Anglesey

“Add carrots back into reduced liquid and reduce to a glaze. Remove from heat and fold in 50g of butter and season with salt, pepper, chopped parsley, toasted sesame seeds and chopped chestnuts.”

Ellis Barrie is one of 2018’s Great British Menu finalists. Ellis will be opening a second site, this time in Liverpool, in early 2019.

Francesco Mazzei’s festive tips for tortelli in brodo

“I hate wasting food at any time of the year, but I think it’s particularly important to think about this at Christmas, when there are always so many leftovers. One of my favourite things to make with the leftover turkey and vegetables is tortelli in brodo.”

Francesco Mazzei is Chef Patron of Sartoria on Savile Row, Radici in Islington, and Fiume at Battersea Power Station

“I take all of the remaining meat off the turkey, then make a beautiful broth from the bones. I then chop the turkey meat with the vegetables (anything except the potatoes), season to taste, and use this mixture to stuff the tortelli. I add a dash of marsala to the broth – it adds a great flavour, and it is Christmas after all! To serve, you simply ladle the hot broth over the tortelli. Delicious.”

Sat Bains’ top tip for Boxing Day brunch

“Use your trimmings to create a beautiful festive tortilla. Simply crush your leftover vegetables and add to a non-stick pan with a few drops of olive oil and fry for 5 minutes. In a bowl, whisk 6 eggs and season with salt and pepper.”

Sat Bains is Chef Proprietor of Two-Michelin starred Restaurant Sat Bains

“Pour in the egg mixture and leave to cook over a gentle heat for 8-10 minutes. Put the pan under the grill for a few minutes until the top is set. You can add really anything to your mix including onions, garlic and bacon! The perfect dish for a Boxing Day brunch!”

Lisa Goodwin-Allen’s top tips for luscious leftovers

“I love using up leftover mince pies by making a mince pie ‘affogato’ – I place a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, crumbling over a warm mince pie, adding a good shot (or two) of Pedro Ximenez Sherry, and grating some orange zest over the top. It’s delicious.”

Lisa Goodwin-Allen is Executive Chef of 1-Michelin starred Northcote in Langho, Lancashire

“My favourite way to use leftovers from Christmas lunch is my leftover turkey, Brussel sprout and ham turnovers. They’re super simple and can be made using everything you have left in your fridge. Simply melt 20g of butter, add 100g of sprouts, a diced onion and sweat until soft. Add some crushed garlic, 60ml of cream, season and cook for 4 minutes before adding in a handful of diced turkey meat and ham. Roll out a sheet of puff pastry and cut into two squares, then spoon in some of the mixture and fold over – pinching the sides to ensure you don’t have air pockets. Slash with a knife before baking at 230 degrees for 5-7 minutes until golden.”

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