Executive Head Chef Mike Bates reveals top five tips to stand out from the crowd this Christmas for a festive feast like no other...
1. Sack off the soup
Stray away from the conventional starter. Try seared scallops, braised pig cheeks, pea shoot salad and a lemon jelly. Nice and light before the big roast.
2. Don't lose sleep for tasty turkey
Unless it's an enormous bird, no need to cook overnight. 20 mins per lb plus 20 minutes is usually fine. Put foil on turkey legs and cover breast with sliced belly pork or bacon to baste and moisten the bird. Take pork/bacon off but keep basting for last 20 mins for crispy skin. No need to stuff but you can add a festive orange.
3. Step away from the instant gravy
You can ask your butcher for turkey carcasses to make the base of your stock, then add turkey giblets and strain after an hour. Make your gravy roux from juices off the roasting turkey and flour. Boil up stock separately in the turkey roasting tin to gather all the flavour and add gradually to your roux. Finally reduce gravy to your preferred consistency.
4. Keep the veggies happy
Use smoked almonds and macademia nuts to add a unique flavour to your nutloaf. Other vegetarian options include roasted pumpkin and sage risotto, wild mushroom crepe and leek and spring onion souffle.
5. Dare to ditch Christmas pudding
My granddaughters love Nougatine Parfait Alaska which is full of ice cream and meringue and great fun to look at!
Good luck and Merry Christmas chefs, and if in doubt... Gourmet to Go!