As we plunge once more into Tier 3, our thoughts are with all the London restaurants forced to close again tonight, destroying their hopes of a merry Christmas and waving goodbye to all their festive bookings over the next week.
Many may still be offering takeaway and delivery services or recipe boxes and we urge you to look into how you can support your local pub or restaurant over the coming weeks. Nevertheless, as none of will be dining out for Christmas dinner this year, some of London's favourite chefs have shared their top tips to help make sure everyone's favourite meal is as perfect as it can be.
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.
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 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!