London Daily

Focus on the big picture.
Saturday, Dec 09, 2023

10 of London’s top chefs share their tips for a perfect Christmas lunch

10 of London’s top chefs share their tips for a perfect Christmas lunch

Cook Christmas lunch like a pro with advice from the capital’s best chefs on everything from stress-free veg to turkey alternatives and the ultimate roast

Being a restaurant chef can involve working under extreme pressure to punishing deadlines in often cramped and sweaty conditions — which is not unlike the scene faced by many home cooks in their kitchens on Christmas Day.

It doesn’t have to be this way, however. Below we have asked 10 of London’s top chefs for their failsafe Christmas tips, sharing their own Yuletide memories and family traditions along the way.

So from perfect prepping to spicy stuffing, boozy elevenses and mushy peas and mash with the roast lunch — and, of course, the ultimate turkey and trimmings — discover how to transform festive cooking from a kitchen nightmare into a Christmas miracle. It might just be the best present you receive all year.

Lisa Goodwin-Allen, The Game Bird

I have an eight-year-old-son who wakes up at 6am on Christmas Day, which makes things a bit manic, but it’s a joy to see how excited he is. I’m from a large family and Christmas has always been an important occasion for everyone to get together. The bigger your family gets, the more special Christmas becomes. My husband and I have croissants for breakfast with our son on Christmas Day and then I go into work to check everything is ok and come home for a big family dinner of turkey with all the works. Once we’re stuffed, we play games and watch all the old Christmas shows like Only Fools and Horses.

Roast the turkey low and slow for an even cook and to keep the meat juicy — around 120/130 degrees in a home oven. Remove the legs and slow-cook them separately from the crown. This can be done a day or two in advance and then reheated on Christmas Day to save time. To keep the crown moist and give extra flavour, mix brioche breadcrumbs, butter and festive herbs under the skin before cooking. Soak a muslin cloth in melted butter and then place over the bird and cook as normal. The muslin will keep the meat moist and the butter will help to crisp up the skin perfectly.

The Stafford, 16-18 St James’s Place, SW1A 1NJ,

Spencer Metzger, The Ritz Restaurant

I usually work on Christmas Day, but I get home early in the evening to spend time with my family. My brother organises the desserts and roast potatoes (he has become a bit of a master), mum does the starter and I usually cook whatever has been requested for the main course. It always works well and means I can relax without cooking too much.

Decide on your menu early and choose something which is achievable in the kitchen that you have. Write a prep list of everything that you want to do the day before and on Christmas morning. On Christmas Eve, blanch the roast potatoes — cook them in boiling water and refresh in iced water — so you only have to pop them in the oven, and make your gravy so you just need to finish it with the roasting juices on the day. Blanch all your vegetables so you only have to reheat them in the oven or finish in a pan with butter and fresh herbs. When the turkey comes out of the oven, let it rest for at least 45 minutes, cover loosely with foil and use this time to finish everything else in the oven.

150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR,

James Cochran, 12:51

I always go for stupid amounts of food at Christmas. For brunch, I’ll make Scotch eggs, sausage rolls, chocolate brioche and then finish up with a huge cheeseboard. A few years ago, I cooked Christmas lunch for my dad and my brother. I popped the cheeseboard down on the dining room table while we ate the rest. When I went to get the cheese later, my dad’s dog had eaten it all.

Spice is at the heart of everything I do, and I think it’s a useful tool to help cut through much of the richness and samey-ness the festive season can bring. Pack a punch with your Christmas dinner by adding a little jerk seasoning into your stuffing. It matches really well with the gamey flavours of a turkey but it’s even better with a pineapple-glazed ham, mash and pickles. Pair it with a lovely crisp riesling — the fruitiness of the wine works nicely with the jerk seasoning but is also light enough for the other components in the dinner.

107 Upper Street, N1 1QN,

Richard Corrigan, Bentley’s Oyster Bar & Grill

Christmas is a very special time of the year and I do so enjoy spending Christmas Day at home with my family. We’ll roast a goose and use all that lovely fat to cook the roast potatoes. Gravy is, of course, homemade, along with an apple and cranberry compote. There will also be a steamed gammon joint filling the air with its wonderful scent. At 11am, we serve Champagne and blinis with Bentley’s salmon, which we smoked on the roof of the restaurant. This happens every year and is a Corrigan Christmas tradition I love dearly.

A tip for a calm kitchen at Christmas is to keep it simple with your vegetables. Just one or two root veggies will do — it saves on hob space and washing up, it makes plating up so much easier and you can concentrate on the main event. Throw some whole carrots in with your roast potatoes along with olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper; the caramelisation brings added flavour. Also, a Christmas pudding soufflé is a great way to use up any leftovers. Crumble Christmas pudding into a bowl and add port or Grand Marnier to make it softer, along with grated orange zest.

11-15 Swallow Street, W1B 4DG,

Pip Lacey, Hicce Hart

We have a few Christmas traditions in my family, including serving mushy peas with our Christmas dinner, and we have mashed as well as roast potatoes. That’s what I’ve grown up with, and I like it. We do a joint of ham and beef to eat cold in the evening and to make sandwiches for the following days — I think I enjoy that more than Christmas dinner itself. A sweet and chocolate tray is another massive tradition in our house. After Eights, Chocolate Orange, fruit jellies and more, all displayed on the most random, elaborate and stored-away-never-to-be-used-other-than-Xmas-Day plate.

I love having a starter at Christmas but cooking one more thing can make people panic and there’s a risk it will be too filling. A simple seasonal soup, such as Jerusalem artichoke, can be made the night before. Peel and chop 1kg of Jerusalem artichokes, simmer for 30 to 40 minutes in a pan of half water and half milk, then strain softly and blend with 50g of butter and 200ml of double cream and water until it’s a nice soupy consistency. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

58 Penton Street, N1 9PZ,

Jacob Kenedy, Bocca di Lupo

My family is majority Jewish, and although we do celebrate Christmas — most often with a Hungarian accent, and probably goose — we always have a Hanukkah party. One year, my mum made a 12-gallon bucket of punch, which involved macerating pineapples and strawberries in a bath of rum and kirsch. Everyone brought their kids, who were very well-behaved and healthily ate the pieces of fruit that were floating in the bucket. Before we served the main dishes, there was a line of drunken children sitting in a neat row, asleep against the living room wall.

Whole beast cooking is always celebratory at Christmas. Try a whole large wild sea bass, bream or grey mullet baked in a salt crust, or poach a whole salmon in a fish kettle. And salsa verde is the perfect sauce for just about anything — certainly whole fish, turkey, goose or beef. Pound or blend a large amount of flat-leaf parsley with a bit of stale bread, pine nuts, garlic, fennel seeds, anchovy, capers, red wine vinegar and olive oil to the texture of dribbly pesto. It’s also the garnish of champions for leftovers and sandwiches.

12 Archer Street, W1D 7BB,

Mike Reid, M Restaurants

One of the greatest Christmas traditions we have in our family is that everybody brings something. Share the load this Christmas and get all the family to bring one dish which just needs to be finished off on the day. This way you don’t have to be glued to your kitchen days before the big event.

I am obsessed by good gravy. There are now lots of great store-produced liquid stocks that you can use as a base and prep ahead of the big day. Sautée off some bacon, onion and carrot in a pan, add some chopped garlic and a tablespoon of tomato purée, and slightly colour. Add the stock to the pan and reduce to a quarter over a medium to low heat. Pass through a sieve. On Christmas Day, warm your gravy up and add the pan juices from the turkey or meat. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer again and enjoy. This is the quickest way to get a restaurant-quality sauce at home and totally worth it.

E14, EC2 and SW1,

Jake Leach, The Harwood Arms

My grandma cooks Christmas lunch every year, and the best bit is always the homemade pigs in blankets. Everyone loves them. Another classic family tradition is setting the Christmas pudding on fire with brandy. One year, though, I rocked up to my dad’s side of the family for the celebrations expecting the full Christmas meal… and we had bangers and mash.

Guinea fowl is a delicious alternative to turkey; it’s more tender and more delicate in flavour. You essentially roast it like you would a chicken and you can put stuffing inside to keep it nice and moist. My number one Christmas tip, though, is to make the Yorkshire pudding mix the day before; it has time to rest, the flour hydrates in the milk and it works so much better the following day. That’s how we do it at the The Harwood Arms — we make the Yorkshire mix on Saturday and then cook the Yorkies on Sunday morning for lunch service.

Walham Grove, SW6 1QJ,

Jack Croft, Fallow

My wife is Irish so we like to do an Irish breakfast on Christmas Day, then have some mid-morning oysters with Sriracha and Champagne, followed by a classic English roast for lunch. We also love drinking G&Ts before we tuck into our roast. We do all our prep the night before to make Christmas Day easier; we crack open a bottle of wine, put on some Christmas music, set the table, parboil the veg and cook and fluff the potatoes ready to roast the next morning. The whole family gets involved, dancing, drinking and cooking.

I love a fish Wellington or fish en croûte as an alternative to turkey. Get some salmon belly or a nice chalk stream trout from the fishmonger, roll in your crepe, add mushroom duxelles and wrap in pastry. I often do a zero-waste caramelised cauliflower cheese, which uses the skins, roots and leaves. And any other veg trimmings (onion skins, carrot tops, celeriac skins) can be chopped up and boiled with a bit of sugar for two hours. Strain it off, reduce to a treacle and add to gravy for a hit of umami.

2 St James’s Market, SW1Y 4RP,

Jamie Shears, Mount St Restaurant

On those days between Christmas and New Year when you have no idea what day (or date!) it is, my mum would cook us all a hearty soup, made with the cooking liquid from a joint of ham. She added pearl barley and any leftover ham and veg. This was always a great lunch served with heavily salted buttered sourdough, usually in front of a puzzle by the fire. She still makes a joint of ham on Christmas Eve to go with the turkey but now we also have eggs Benedict for breakfast on Christmas morning.

Brining the turkey was not part of my family Christmas traditions growing up, but it will forever be part of them in the future, as it infuses the meat with lovely Christmassy flavours. I add salt, honey, cloves, orange, cinnamon and thyme to water and ensure the turkey is fully submerged. I usually do this for up to 48 hours, but 24 hours would suffice. You can add whatever herbs and spices you like, but the Christmas classics are always a winner.

41-43 Mount Street, W1K 2RX,


Related Articles

London Daily
"New Beginnings: Greece and Turkey Agree to Repair Relations
You Are So Beautiful
Finland's Supreme Court Prevents Extradition of Russian Terrorism Suspect to Ukraine
Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
UK Proposes Streamlined Financial Advice to Reduce Costs for Consumers
An old French tune (by Georges Brassens) Pomplamoose ft. John Schroeder
UK's Labour Party Conducts Review of Financial Services to Boost City's Growth Potential
Sattahip Motor Show 20
London City Hall Condemns Blast Targeting Clean Air Zone Camera
SONATE AU CLAIR DE LUNE - Moonlight sonata
Venezuela Steps Up Claim on Guyana's Essequibo Region
A kiss to build a dream on
Spain's First AI Model Earns Up to $10,000 Monthly
Wonderful Tonight - Eric Clapton (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Spotify Plans Workforce Reduction of Nearly 20% Despite Reporting £55 Million Profit
Mean Blues
Former President Restricted from Leaving Ukraine Amid Alleged Plan to Meet Hungary's Viktor Orban
La Chansonnette
Ikea Commits £10 Million for 2024 Pay Raises for UK Employees
Pattaya Addicts
Ant and Dec, our favorite jungle jesters, have thrown a curveball. They're suggesting a 'politician-free' season of 'I'm A Celebrity. Get Me Out Of Here!'
Franz Liszt - Liebestraum - Love Dream
Trump’s lawyers say he did not take an oath ‘to support the Constitution’
Dream a little dream of me
Henry Kissinger, the influential American diplomat, Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and former Secretary of State, passed away at 100 at his Connecticut home.
Unchained Melody sung like you've NEVER heard!
Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Dr. Parnpreeb Commends ICRC's Role in Hostage Release
Dave Brubeck - Take Five
Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the crypto exchange FTX who was convicted of fraud earlier this month, is adjusting to his new life in the detention center where he awaits sentencing.
Édith Piaf - Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (Sofie)
Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of the crypto exchange FTX who was convicted of fraud earlier this month, is adjusting to his new life in the detention center where he awaits sentencing.
Rondo Alla Turca
The political network founded by the billionaire industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch has endorsed Nikki Haley in the Republican presidential nominating contest
Kiss of fire
Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett's longtime investing partner, dies at 99
Tom Jones - I´ll Never Fall In Love Again 1967, 1989, 2001
Robert De Niro told an awards ceremony a speech he was reading had been edited without his knowledge, removing critical comments about Donald Trump
Israel Cachao López - Guajira Clásica
Standard Chartered is in the early stages of a search for its next chair as the bank prepares for the departure of Jose Vinals, who’s entering his eighth year in the role
Edward Maya - Stereo Love (feat. Vika Jigulina) (Extended Mix)
Eurostar to Suspend Amsterdam to London Service for 6 Months
Strauss - Radetzky March - Karajan
California is not considered a racist place. Or so it seems.
La vie en rose
Sam Altman's return to OpenAI marks a significant turn of events for Microsoft and its relationship with the AI giant.
The Temptations - My Girl (Smokey Robinson Tribute) 2006 Kennedy Cent
Radical immigrants set on fire police cars and loot shops in Dublin.
Orlando Cachaito Lopez Redencion
The BBC Caught Again with Questionable Journalistic Standards, as Ugly Facts Undermine Its Attractive Yet Flawed Arguments
This video reveals that Target's Black Friday promotions are entirely fake, with no actual discounts. The prices before and after are identical!
RADETZKY MARCH-2008-Wien, New Year Concert
Israel's Spokesperson Mark Regev's Response to Comparisons Between Palestinian Teenage Terrorists and Young Innocent Victims of Hamas Captivity
Only you (And you alone)
Here is a video showing the moment of the release of the captives by the terrorist organization Hamas and their transfer to the Red Cross on their way back to the State of Israel.
Strangers In The Night
Here is a video showing the moment of the release of the captives by the terrorist organization Hamas and their transfer to the Red Cross on their way back to the State of Israel.
Charles Aznavour - La Boheme
Bill Gates Envisions a Possible 3-Day Work Week with AI
Summer time
Viktor Orban's Provocative Assertions and Their Significance in Europe
Sting and Stevie Wonder - Fragile (from Sting's 60th birthday concert)
Orban's Blunt Challenge to Brussels: Embracing National Sovereignty in Migration Policy
Aux Champs Elysees
OpenAI Staff Rebellion: 500 Employees Demand Board Resignation in Dramatic Standoff
Stand By Me - Ben E. King (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
OpenAI Staff Rebellion: 500 Employees Demand Board Resignation in Dramatic Standoff
La Mer (Beyond the Sea) – Avalon Jazz Band
Over 200 Convicted in Italy's 'Ndrangheta Mafia Trial
In a scandalous revelation at the COVID-19 inquiry, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under fire for an alleged remark that suggests a chilling indifference to human life during the pandemic
Nathalie Song by Enzo Petrachi Stjepan Hauser Cello
Abu Dhabi-Backed Fund Poised to Assume Control of UK's Telegraph Media Group
Shape of My Heart - Sting (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Sam Altman and Greg Brockman Join Microsoft Amidst OpenAI Developments
Radiohead - Creep
Reporters Without Borders Unveils News Platform to Counter Russian Propaganda
Quizás,Quizás,Quizás - Andrea Bocelli - Jennifer Lopez
Singer Shakira will pay a fine of eight million euros after being accused of evading taxes worth 14.5 million euros during the years 2012-2014.
Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps - Multi-Couples
Hungary's Orbán Asserts Ukraine Is Far from EU Membership
Pentatonix Havana
Racial Bias in AI Leads to Wrongful Arrest Due to False Recognition
Paula Cole - Autumn Leaves
Orban Stresses Hungary's Need to Reform the EU Rather Than Exiting It
Oscar Benton Bensonhurst Blues
Biden Advocates for Palestinian Authority to Govern Gaza and West Bank
Brigitte Macron Opens Up About Her Marriage to Younger President Emmanuel Macron
Nina Simone - ”I Put A Spell On You”. Vezi aici cum cântă Jeremy Ragsd
Apple and Disney Halt Ads on X Following Elon Musk's Antisemitic Post, US Reacts
NIGHTWISH - The Phantom Of The Opera
Finland Shuts Four Crossing Points on Russia Border
Motorshow 2016 Tanjay Negros Oriental
Viktor Orbán Welcomes Cameron's Political Return
Monica Bellucci - Ti Amo
The UK’s Supreme Court, in a move that surprised no one who respects international law and human rights, has just delivered a landmark ruling against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s immigration strategy.
Michael Jackson - Billie Jean Milena The Voice France 2018
YouTube has introduced an AI feature named Dream Track that can mimic the voices of celebrities such as Demi Lovato and John Legend, enabling users to compose brief songs by specifying lyrics and mood
Michael Buble (Help Me Make It Through The Night) feat Loren Allred
Memories Canon In D - Maroon 5 (Boyce Avenue piano acoustic cover)
Matteo Simoni - Marina
Maroon 5 - One More Night
Maroon 5 - Memories
Mark Knopfler - Brothers In Arms (Berlin 2007 Live)
Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris - Romeo And Juliet (Real Live Roadrunni
Marina, Marina - The LUCKY DUCKIES intimist live concert at Guimarães
Major Lazer & DJ Snake – Lean On Mauranne The Voice France 2016
Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet - Joslin - Henri Mancini, Nino Rota
LoLa & Hauser - Love Story
Linkin Park Jay-Z - Numb Encore (Live 8 2005)
Hallelujah Mennel Ibtissem, The Voice France Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen - Dance Me to the End of Love
Leonard Cohen & Natasha Rostova - Dance me to the end of love
La casa de papel - Bella Ciao
La Camisa Negra
L'italiano (Toto Cutugno) - The Gypsy Queens
Juanes - La Camisa Negra
Jonathan and Charlotte - Britain's Got Talent 2012 Live Semi Final - U
John Powell - Assassin's Tango
Joe Cocker - You Can Leave Your Hat On (LIVE in Dortmund)
Joe Cocker - Unchain My Heart 2002 Live
Joe Cocker - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
Jay Z & Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind LIVE
Jason Mraz - Im Yours (live)
Jarrod Radnich - Bohemian Rhapsody - Virtuosic Piano Solo
James Blunt - You're Beautiful
James Blunt - You're Beautiful & Bonfire Heart (Live at The Nobel Peac)
If You Go Away - Helen Merrill & Stan Getz (Tribute to Virna Lisi)
I Say a Little Prayer
Hotel California ( Eagles ) 1994 Live
Historia de un amor - Luz Casal. Vezi interpretarea Biancăi Sumanariu
Here Comes The Sun - The Beatles (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover) on Spot
Heart - Stairway to Heaven Led Zeppelin - Kennedy Center Honors
HAVANA by Camila Cabello Zumba Pre Cooldown TML Crew Kramer Pastra
HAUSER and Señorita - I Will Always Love You
HAUSER - Waka Waka
HAUSER - Lambada
HAUSER - Historia de un Amor
HAUSER - Despacito
Great Pretender
Georgia May Foote & Giovanni Pernice Samba to 'Volare' - Strictly Come
Gary Moore - Still Got The Blues
Fugees - Killing Me Softly With His Song
French Latino - Historia de un Amor
For A Few Dollars More The Danish National Symphony Orchestra (Live)
Flashdance • What a Feeling • Irene Cara
Filip Rudan - “Someone You Loved” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sez
Eric Clapton - Wonderful Tonight
Enya - Only Time
Enrique Iglesias - Bailando (English Version) ft. Sean Paul
Enrique Iglesias - Bailamos
Elena Yerevan Historia de un amor
Ed Sheeran - Shape of You (Official Music Video)
Ed Sheeran - Perfect Symphony [with Andrea Bocelli]
Ed Sheeran - Perfect (Official Music Video)
Easy On Me - Adele (Boyce Avenue 90’s style piano acoustic cover) on S
ERA - Ameno
ELENA YEREVAN- Cancion Del Mariachi-IN STUDIO-2017 DPR
Dust In The Wind - Kansas (Boyce Avenue acoustic cover)
Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood
Despacito x Shape Of You - Pentatonix
Deep Purple - Child In Time - Live (1970)
David Foster When A Man Loves A WomanIt's A Mans World (SealMichael Bo
Dance me to the end of Love ( Pi-Air Design )
Coolio - Gangsta's Paradise (feat. L.V.) [Official Music Video]
Conquest Of Paradise (Vangelis), played on Böhm Emporio organ
Cielito Lindo
Chico & The Gypsies - Bamboleo
Canción Del Mariachi - Antonio Banderas, Los Lobos • Desperado
Camila Cabello - Havana (Audio) ft. Young Thug
Camila Cabello - Havana ( cover by J.Fla )
California Dreamin' - The Mamas & The Papas José Feliciano (Boyce Ave
Buster Benton - Money Is The Name of The Game
Hallelujah Pentatonix
Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy (Official Music Video)
Bob Dylan - Knockin' On Heaven's Door Emilia The Voice Kids France
Besame Mucho - Cesaria Evora
Ben E. King - Stand by Me Sax Cover Alexandra Ilieva Thomann
Bella Ciao
Beautiful in White x Canon in D (Piano Cover by Riyandi Kusuma)
Bad Romance - Vintage 1920's Gatsby Style Lady Gaga Cover ft. Ariana Savalas & Sarah Reich(1)
BAMBOLEO - Gipsy Kings • Antonio Banderas, Katya Virshilas
BAILANDO (original)
Awesome Ukrainian yodeler - SOFIA SHKIDCHENKO (with English subtitles)
Avicii - The Nights
Atom - The Great Gig in the Sky
Aretha Franklin - (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman (Official Ly
Antonio Banderas - Cancion del Mariachi (Desperado)
André Rieu - Zorba's Dance (Sirtaki)
André Rieu - Can't Help Falling In Love
André Rieu & Mirusia - Ave Maria
Andrew Reyes Elton John - Don't Let The Sun Go Down The Voice 2020 (
Andreas Kümmert Whiter Shade Of Pale The Voice of Germany 2013 Showd
And I Love You So
All About That Bass - Postmodern Jukebox European Tour Version
Alan Walker - Faded (Piano Cover)
Ain't No Sunshine -- Bill Withers (cover by Canen 12 y.o.)
African music
Adriana Vidović - “Creep” Audicija 4 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
Adriana Vidović - “Believer” Nokaut 3 The Voice Hrvatska Sezona 3
A Fistful of Dollars - The Danish National Symphony Orchestra and Tuva
4 Beautiful Soundtracks Relaxing Piano [10min]
2CELLOS - Whole Lotta Love vs. Beethoven 5th Symphony [OFFICIAL VIDEO]
2CELLOS - Smooth Criminal (Live at Suntory Hall, Tokyo)
2CELLOS - Smells Like Teen Spirit [Live at Sydney Opera House]
13 Year Old Girl Playing Il Silenzio (The Silence) - André Rieu
094.All About That Bass
(Ghost) Riders In the Sky (American Outlaws Live at Nassau Coliseum, 1
(Everything I Do) I Do It For You - Bryan Adams (Boyce Avenue ft. Conn
What a wonderful world
Moon river