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8 Easy Christmas dinner hacks according to top chefs

A surefire way to jazz up the most important meal of the year

8 Easy Christmas dinner hacks according to top chefs
18 December 2017

Whether you’re cooking Christmas dinner yourself or having someone else make it for you, there’s always room for something new to jazz up the standard festive fare.

It doesn’t always have to be giant pigs in blankets or novelties like a Christmas kebab, either - just ask the sort of people who know all about this sort of thing.

We’ve spoken to top chefs at some of the UK’s best restaurants to find out what little tricks and tweaks have worked for them.

Buttermilk-fried roasties 

“To get crispy roasties, slow-cook them then fry them to finish. To go a step further, dip them in buttermilk then coat them in seasoned flour before frying, then cover them in reduced sticky gravy. Leftover potatoes can also be fried like this the next day, then served with a buffalo sauce and blue cheese as a hangover snack.”

Neil Rankin, chef director at Temper Soho and Temper City

Sourdough bread sauce

“The best thing about eating a turkey Christmas dinner is the bread sauce. I use a really nice loaf of dark sourdough for the breadcrumbs. Add a big knob of butter, which makes the sauce silkier, and infuse the milk with bay leaves and onions. The sourdough gives it a slightly sour flavour.”

Tommy Banks, head chef at The Black Swan, Oldstead


“The addition of a bowl of spiced nut and seed dukkah is a winning accompaniment. I love its versatility: it can be eaten on its own, with bread or sprinkled over Christmas dinner to add the perfect crunch. The aromatic spices of cumin and coriander, together with the heat from the chilli flakes and the richness from the nuts, make it a must.”

Marianna Leivaditaki, head chef at Morito Hackney Road

Turkey leg meatballs

“I prepare the turkey breasts separately, so I can ensure they are perfectly cooked. With the legs, I’ll mince the meat and make meatballs, mixing it with pumpkin, black truffle, Tuscan sausage and chestnuts, steaming them over turkey stock and serving them with the roasted turkey breasts.”

Francesco Mazzei, chef patron of Sartoria, Radici and Fiume


“It’s a type of Turkish spicy sausage, which I make with potatoes, pickled onions and chives. These make a great side to roast turkey. The spicy flavour, which is a bit like beef chorizo, works as an alternative to pigs in blankets, and the lightly picked onions cut through the spice. The potatoes perfectly soak up all the juices from the sausage.”

Hus Vedat, executive chef at Yosma and Hovarda 

Quinoa Yorkshire puddings

“It’s an idea I came up with to ‘Peruvianise’ a classic British dish. They’re lighter than the usual version, and soak up gravy like a dream while keeping their crunch. Make the mix the day before – eggs, milk, plain flour, salt and cooked red quinoa – and you’ll be somewhere between Britain and the Andes by lunchtime.”

Martin Morales, founder of Ceviche, Andina and Casita Andina

Gnocchi stuffing balls

“These aren’t what you’d expect to see at Christmas, but there’s no reason an Italian classic shouldn’t be invited to the party, especially when they take on festive flavours so well. I make mine with pumpkin, pine nuts, sage and burnt butter. They’re just as popular as the roasties in our family. Well, almost.”

Bonny Porter, head chef and founder of Balls & Company

Smoked duck fat roasties

“This will make you look really cheffy. All you need is some duck fat, an old metal box and some smoking chips. Smoke the fat inside the container, then add par-boiled potatoes and the fat to a shallow pan. Finish them with a bit of Espelette pepper to give them a kick, and roast. The flavour is worth the effort, I promise.”

Michael McDaid, head chef at Smokehouse Islington

by Chris Sayer and Bobby Palmer

(Images: iStock)