FESTIVE FOOD & DRINK TIPS FROM THE PROS
FESTIVE FOOD & DRINK TIPS FROM THE PROS
Monica Galetti, Lisa Goodwin-Allen and Jack and Charlie Stein reveal how they make Christmas a feast
Monica Galetti, MasterChef:The Professionals judge and chef-patron Mere Restaurant
For Christmas I like to make food reminiscent to childhood and family gatherings. For example we always had a pineapple glazed ham, the best tip for me is to use tinned pineapple and I blitz it to puree, then add it to a dry caramel to make a nice and thick glaze ready to brush over the ham and it doesn’t run off.
Jack Stein, chef director, Rick Stein Restaurants
Fish at Christmas is of course a classic, but why not look past smoked salmon for your Christmas Day starter and try crab this year? Some white crab meat bound with a little mayonnaise on toast is a great way to start your Christmas dinner (or breakfast!). And it works a treat with a glass of something cold and fizzy.
My recipe for Ultra-Umami, get-ahead gravy
2 shallots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
a sprig of thyme
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon salt
375ml red wine
1 litre beef stock
1 teaspoon Marmite
4 teaspoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine
50g unsalted butter, cold
Buy some good quality fresh stock (either from a deli or butchers) and make the gravy the day before. Cook down some onions, garlic and thyme with a good glug of red wine. Allow this to reduce by around half and then add the stock, usually sold by the pouch. Let it simmer down for half an hour, then add a tablespoon of Marmite and soy sauce for an umami hit and a splash vinegar to taste. On the day, add all the pan juices from roasting your meat and whisk in the cold butter to finish.
My top tips for vegetables – steam them! You save oven space and if you go for seasonal greens like kale and cavolo nero you can add some colour and vibrancy to your Christmas plate. Pop them in a pan with a tight fitting lid and a splash of water, and turn the heat on. Meanwhile slice a few cloves of garlic, cover in olive oil in a mug and microwave for 1 min. Then lift the lid on the greens, let the last of the liquid steam away, and then add the garlic oil and sauté for another minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Charlie Stein, Head of Wine, Rick Stein Restaurants
If you’re on a budget then look out for Crémant de Bourgogne in the supermarket, it’s made exactly the same way as Champagne, with the same flavour, but doesn’t carry the premium price.
There’s so many different flavours on the festive table that there isn’t one wine that works better than other, just make sure there’s enough weight and body to so it’s not overpowered by the various trimmings. For me Christmas is a celebration so I open the best wine I can afford and get stuck in. Wines that work: Bordeaux, Rhone, White Burgundy, Languedoc red, and Italian reds.
In the Stein household, we start pretty early – probably on something a bit special like Veuve Clicquot – and everyone mucks in helping Dad with breakfast. The acidity of Champagne works well with the fat and oiliness in smoked salmon – plus the hallmark toasty richness of good Champagne is a good pairing for buttery silky scrambled eggs. It’s a winning combination and sets one everyone up for a day of merriment.
I’m designated wine pourer at our family Christmas and end up spending the whole day opening bottles of Champagne and wine. Do yourself a favour and buy in bigger format and save opening times. It also looks far more impressive and adds some festive theatre to the big occasion.
Boxing Day is left-over meats and turkey sandwiches and a hangover, in this case you have to reach for some aromatic Pinot Gris or some honeyed South African Chenin Blanc. If you have gammon, jacket potatoes, and left-over goose like we do, then something light, red and crunchy, Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, will do the job perfectly.
Lisa Goodwin-Allen, The Game Bird at The Stafford and Northcote, on the perfect side dishes
1 red cabbage, shredded
1 cinnamon stick
100ml of red wine vinegar
100g of redcurrant jelly
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper
Add all of the ingredients – except seasoning – to a pan over a low heat. Cover the pan and simmer for 1 hour until tender, checking occasionally. After an hour, remove the lid and simmer until it becomes syrupy and the juices coat the cabbage. Season with salt and pepper.
REINDEER IN BLANKETS
9 sausages, beef, pork or lamb
9 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
1 bunch of rosemary
50g of cranberries, or dried
Wrap 1 slice of bacon around the middle of each sausage. Place onto a baking tray with the ends of the bacon underneath to hold in place. Place into the oven for 20-25 minutes until cooked through. Once the reindeer in blankets are ready, remove from the oven and pick 9 small tips off the rosemary sprigs to stick in one end of each sausage to make the ‘antlers’. Lay a cranberry in front of Rudolph to make his nose.
Turkey, Brussel sprout and ham turnovers
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 from everything you have left in your fridge.
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 four 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 that you don’t have air pockets. Slash with a knife before baking at 230 degrees for five to seven minutes until golden.
Mince pie affogato
I love using up leftover mince pies by making a mince pie ‘affogato’. I have a big scoop of vanilla ice cream with a warm mince pie crumbled on top, a good shot (or two) of Pedro Ximenez Sherry, and some grated orange zest. It’s delicious.