Berkshire’s top chefs share their top tips for Christmas cooking

PUBLISHED: 11:53 18 December 2018 | UPDATED: 13:43 18 December 2018

The Blackbird

The Blackbird


Some of the county’s best chefs reveal what they’re up to this festive season, and offer their advice on how to create that perfect Christmas Day feast

Dom Robinson, The Blackbird, Bagnor

• Words of wisdom - “Go for something really simple for your starter on Christmas Day, like smoked salmon with brown bread and butter,” Dom advises. However, he explains that quality is everything: “A way to make things easier for yourself is to buy nice ingredients. You can buy cheap ingredients and then make them taste nice, but that’s a lot more work!”

• Festive favourite - “I love Christmas pudding. It’s a kind of marmite thing, but I could eat it every single day.”

Dom RobinsonDom Robinson

Claire Gibson, Claire’s Kitchen, Twyford

• Words of wisdom - She has plenty of advice for ensuring that the vegetables are far from the most boring part of the Christmas dinner. “Carrots can be delicious mashed with swede, and you can also try roasting your parsnips with some parmesan,” Claire suggests. “A vegetable gratin can also be very luxurious, made with cream, rosemary and root vegetables. This can be done in advance, so it’s one less job on the day.”

• Festive favourite - “It’s got to be the main Christmas dinner with all the trimmings!”

Claire GibsonClaire Gibson

Tom Clarke, L’Ortolan, Shinfield

• Words of wisdom - This Michelin-starred chef knows a thing or two about the perfect roast potatoes. “Pre-cook them in boiling water and ruffle them up,” Tom recommends. “Then cook them in duck fat with thyme, rosemary and garlic.” He also has some useful advice for the ever-controversial Brussel sprout: “I pre-cook them and refresh them in ice water. I then cut them in half and pan fry them in duck fat with thyme, rosemary, garlic and bacon trim.”

• Festive favourite - “I always look forward to Boxing Day, because for me it’s all about the bubble and squeak with honey glazed gammon and a drink or two,” Tom says. “I also come from a family of bakers, and we have a Christmas pudding recipe that dates back over 200 years! Every year I look forward to it, especially when my Granny makes it.”

Tom Clarke (Photo by Leon Day)Tom Clarke (Photo by Leon Day)

André Garrett, Cliveden House and Spa, Taplow

• Words of wisdom - Cooking for friends and family on Christmas Day can be a daunting task, but according to André, preparation is key. “Have your starter all ready and your vegetables cut beforehand. Work out the timings for your main course and work backwards from that, allowing resting time,” he suggests. “But most importantly, have fun, enjoy it, and get everyone to pitch in to help!”

• Festive favourite - “Turkey can be a bit same old, so I like venison or a beef wellington as they’re much more special and showy. I also love a traditional Christmas pudding, flambéed at the table like my mum used to.”

André GarrettAndré Garrett

Coalin Finn, The Oakley Court, Windsor

• Words of wisdom - Coalin picked up some top tips for cooking the perfect turkey whilst working abroad in Dubai. “When people think Dubai, they tend not to think Christmas,” he laughs. “But one of my chef mentors out there taught me this amazing method, where you make a clarified butter and inject it into the meat using a syringe. You then make a softened butter paste with whatever herbs you like – I personally like a bit of thyme and garlic – and lift up the skin and massage the butter underneath. This means that when you roast it, the skin crisps up, but it also flavours the meat and keeps it really moist.”

• Festive favourite - “Personally at this time of year I like a good haunch of venison. I do like turkey, but I think that should be kept more for Christmas Day itself.”

Coalin FinnCoalin Finn


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