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The Print House chef

14th November 2023

Christmas Dinner Tips from Head Chef at The Print House, Tenterden

Martin Elliot, Head Chef at The Print House Tenterden, suggests that nailing the perfect Christmas dinner can be daunting for any chef.

He shares some easy ways to make this Christmas dinner one to remember.

  1. Make Canapés instead of Starters: Not only does this save having to wash up knives and forks it also takes the pressure off, as people can be having a chat and a nibble in the kitchen or living room , rather than waiting expectantly at the table!
  1. Two or three side dishes are perfect for any dish, any more is a waste of time: …….And Christmas dinner doesn’t need to be any different: team a Crispy Roast Turkey with Quince & Pecan Stuffing & Buttery Brussels & Roasties; Rump Steak on a bed of Pearl Onions & Thyme with Creamy Potatoes.
  1. It’s all in the gravy: It’s 3.30pm, your timing is perfect, the Turkey is out of the oven but how do you keep it warm and rested while you mess around with all the other bits. Martin suggests that you make your gravy, days or even weeks ahead so on the day you simply keep it warm in a pan until it is ready to serve. Some Tips for your gravy prep:

Trimmings: Anything used to flavour the Turkey can be used to flavour your gravy, roughly chop veg, herbs and Turkey trimmings then chuck these into the tin before browning them off.

Liquid: Good quality stock and add something extra for flavour. Martin loves the sweet-sharp balance of Nightingale Cider. His trick is to reduce the gravy slowly whilst mashing the trimmings in as it cooks.

To finish: Before serving add a few sprigs of fresh herbs and infuse for a few minutes.

Unexpected twist: Martin adds a bit of texture to his gravy: crushed cobnuts from Potash Farm in Kent are stirred in just before serving and are fabulous with this fruity Cider Turkey Gravy Recipe.

4. How to ace your Roasties: Martin Elliot and his team use Maris Pipers or King Edwards for their roast spuds: they peel them and then par boil them in salted water until just tender. They are then steam dried them in a colander for at least 5 minutes once drained. They are then covered in oil, cling filmed and kept in cool place till the following day. On Christmas Day Martin simply adds duck or goose fat to his roasting tray, puts it in hot oven for 5 minutes before dropping the potatoes in. The potatoes are then shaken to create fluffy edges that crisp up while roasting. Martin buys his potatoes from The Potato Shop Tenterden.

5. Pudding shouldn’t come into it: Puddings should be planned and sorted ahead of the day, they certainly shouldn’t feature in the stress of the big day. Traditional Christmas Cakes, and Puddings are made well in advance. If you opt for a Mince Meat Pies or Trifle, then make it a day or two before.

The Print House interior

The Print House

The Print House is a cosy and friendly 16th Century Inn with six boho chic bedrooms in the medieval town of Tenterden in the heart of English Winemaking Country.