Happy Christmas from two Herts’ chefs
Cooking Christmas lunch tomorrow? I ask a couple of our top chefs - both with 3 AA Rosettes - to share their cooking tips.
Phil Thompson, chef and owner of Thompson St Albans
Christmas Day for me is all about being organised during the week leading up the big day. First job when I get in is to get some Christmas tunes on the radio and get those turkeys in roasting for lunch. Next is full English for staff, or, as we call it, our family breakfast. Everyone needs to be fuelled and ready for our busiest and most important service of the year. Doors open at midday. We can’t wait to treat our guests to a wonderful Christmas Day lunch. Lobster, scallop, succulent Norfolk Black turkey, pigs in blankets and masses of Brussel sprouts lovingly prepared by yours truly. For our Christmas pudding, we’ve been soaking the fruit in brandy for the past year.
Try buying a crown instead of the whole bird, it will cook more quickly without the legs on. Start with the oven on high – 180C for the first 45-60 minutes. When the skin is golden, cover with foil and turn the oven down to 150C for another 30-60 minutes depending on the size. To check if it’s cooked, stick a knife or roasting fork deep into the thick part of the breast. If the juices run out clear, it’s done. Leave to rest for 30 mins before you carve.
If you are cooking a whole turkey with the legs on and are concerned about drying out the breast meat before the leg meat is done, make some deep cuts into the legs so they cook quicker. Alternatively put some stuffing under the skin covering both breasts so they take longer to cook.
Don’t forget to keep basting the turkey while it’s cooking. This will give the turkey a nice golden crisp skin. If it starts getting too dark before its cooked, cover it with foil, then for the last 10 minutes take it off again to re-crisp the skin.
Russell Bateman, Head Chef, Colette’s, The Grove, Chandlers Cross
I’m going to be at home on Christmas Day, where I’ll be making a Beef Wellington with all the trimmings.
My sprouts tip: cook your Brussel sprouts with chorizo, garlic, paprika, baby shallots, thyme and chestnuts. Caramelise everything in a big pan with plenty of butter and salt. Get lots of colour on the Brussels, they’ll become lovely and sweet and take on the smoky paprika flavour really well.