‘Wow’ guests with inside tips from Ripon’s top chef and Nidderdale’s farm butchers this Christmas
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For those feeling nervous about cooking Christmas dinner, terrified they might disappoint family and friends, The Gazette has asked a fourth generation butcher, and a professional chef for their secrets on cooking the perfect roast turkey.
Cooking Christmas dinner for the extended family can be daunting, especially with more than the usual Sunday roast to think about.
Many will be attempting a three course meal for the first time, here are some tips achievable for the amateur cook to help ‘wow’ guests.
Martin Abbott, head chef at The Royal Oak in Ripon, with nearly two decades of experience, said: “Always put butter underneath the skin of the breast for perfect skin.
“Add water to the tray with onion, carrot, and celery to keep the bird moist underneath.
“I use thyme, garlic, seasoning, and bouillon to enrich the gravy.
“Cook at 180, with oil underneath the parchment so the skin doesn’t rip when you take it off.
“Add red wine to the meat juices and reduce down to start the gravy.
“Make your sprouts stand out with chestnuts and pancetta.
“A mix of spiced red cabbage, red wine, star anise, orange juice, brown sugar, reducing it down for hours, slowly bubbling away adds aroma to any table.
Mr Abbott shared some simple starters and desserts to take the pressure off those taking on the challenge.
“A classic prawn cocktail with avocado and charred lemon is always good.
“A goat's cheese tartlet with spiced apple and beetroot which can also be made vegan for this day and age, is a great alternative.
“Add warmth to a simple soup using dukkah, with middle eastern spices.
“All these ingredients are widely available now, and can be prepared the night before, taking much needed stress away.
“One dish having a renaissance is Coquilles St Jacques.
“Queen scallops, white wine and lemon sauce.
“Gruyere crumbles on top, which can be gluten free.
“Serve it in the shell.
“It’s quick to cook under the grill, and looks fantastic.
Mr Abbott gave away some simple dessert secrets, a light alternative to traditional Christmas pudding that can be prepared the night before.
“Lemon Posset presented nicely in a glass, served with passion fruit and coriander.
“Refreshing flavours and in season.
“Good cheeses, chutneys, and port can take the weight off, or put it on so to speak.
“Get creative and have fun.”
An award-winning farm butcher has called time on breaking the tradition in over-cooking the turkey by investing a ‘few quid’ on a domestic meat probe.
Paul Kendall, from Kendall’s Farm Butchers, gave his stellar advice on how to get that turkey just “absolutely perfect”.
Mr Kendall said:“Probes give us x-ray vision, and they’re only a few quid.
“Those old school days in my grandad’s time, people used to get up really early, cooking it for hours.
“They’d take it out and think well, give it another hour.
“By the time it was finished it was as hard as iron.
“When you’re cooking turkey, get it into the middle 70’s, it doesn’t want to be anymore.
“Then it's absolutely perfect!.”