Season's Eatings

 Top chefs share their Christmas dinner secrets so you can feast like a professional

Chefs Christmas dinner - SMV_Christmas_chefs_4.jpg

Mark Hix

‘The flavour of turkey has nothing on game. I like to cook small birds: teal, snipe, woodcock, widgeon, pintail and pigeon. Simply roasted, they each have their own unique flavour, and the eating process is a bit of a ceremony. Accompaniments like the bread sauce, jellies and parsnip crisps make it a special dining experience, and they don’t take much longer than 15 minutes in a hot oven to cook. I usually allow for a couple of birds per head – you can have a whole one, half of one and share the larger ones for a real feast. Serve on wooden boards with buttered sprout tops tossed with chanterelles or lightly roasted chestnuts.’

Mark Hix is a chef and restaurateur

Vivek Singh 

‘Christmas dinner in the Singh household is always murgh musallam – a spice-roasted whole chicken. Traditionally, it’s a grand celebration dish and the king of Indian dishes. I always add raw rice to the cavity of my chicken, which is cooked by the time the bird is ready, and serve it with roasted vegetables on the side and a pinot noir.’ 

Vivek Singh is executive chef of The Cinnamon Club, Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Soho

Tom Aikens

‘I cook for my partner and my daughter Violette. We start with a simple baked scallop dish or a game paté or terrine, then have a traditional baked ham, with choucroute, roast or mashed spuds and roast root vegetables. We finish with Christmas pudding and brandy sauce.’ 

Tom Aikens is head chef at Tom Aikens 

Gary Lee

‘We always have quite a lot of people over on Christmas Day – usually 10 or 12, and sometimes as many as 15. I always cook, as I like to spoil my family. I do a few simple canapés to start – nothing fancy, but it gives me a bit of breathing space to get the roast done. We have turkey. I bone and stuff the legs with homemade pork and chestnut stuffing and roast the crown of the turkey separately so it’s easier to control the roasting times. I usually do a small piece of roast beef and a ham too so there’s plenty of variety. It might seem like a lot, but then I don’t need to cook for another two days as everyone can help themselves to the leftovers.’

Gary Lee is senior head chef at The Ivy

Richard Corrigan 

‘We might start with some oysters. Some of my family like Champagne but I prefer picpoul. Then some goujons of sole with egg mayonnaise. After that it will be Frank Hederman’s smoked salmon, lots of it with lemon and freshly baked soda bread. Then we focus on the turkey, the roast spuds and good gravy. We have it with red cabbage, which I love, and sprouts sautéed with spices and chestnuts. Bread sauce is a must. I find Christmas pudding is too much so we usually nibble on fruits and cheeses like Cashel Blue and Ardrahan, trying to work out which wine is best with which cheese. After that it’s mince pies and ice cream. Hardly light, but it’s Christmas.’

Richard Corrigan is chef-proprietor at Corrigan’s Mayfair 

Brian Hughson 

‘By the time Christmas comes round, I don’t want to see another turkey. Instead, I go for a roast four-bone rib of Black Angus beef with Yorkshire pudding or middle white pork rack roasted with all the trimmings – fine quality meat, seasoned with Maldon sea salt. I like to cook in a very relaxed way, starting with buck’s fizz and a full English, then moving on to Champagne.’

Brian Hughson is executive chef at Coworth Park 

This article was first published in Square Meal Christmas 2012

Top chefs share their Christmas dinner secrets so you can feast like a professional

Chefs Christmas dinner

Top chefs share their Christmas dinner secrets so you can feast like a professional