Christmas Cooking Q&A with Chris Holland | The Tool Shed

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Christmas Cooking Q&A with Chris Holland | The Tool Shed

Christmas Cooking Q&A with Chris Holland

If you ever wondered what it’s like to be a Chef over Christmas, wonder no more. spoke to Chris Holland, a 3 rosette chef from Cheshire, family man, and author of Sous Vide – the Art of Precision Cooking, to find out how he will be feasting over the upcoming festive season.

How many people will you be cooking for at Christmas? Will someone else in your household be chef for the day?

I won’t be cooking this year. I only cook once every three years and it’s someone else’s turn so I can relax. Believe it or not I can stay out of the kitchen when it’s not my turn.

Do you have any Sous Vide products you favour when cooking your own Christmas dinner?

A water bath or thermal circulator are my go-to for a big family meal.

How can cooking Sous Vide reduce the stress of cooking Christmas dinner, in comparison to general oven cooking?

A lot of the stress with cooking at Christmas is to get the turkey right. Cooking Sous Vide, this is totally eliminated as it’s perfect every time.

In terms of a traditional Christmas dinner, what items can be cooked/prepared using Sous Vide?

Whilst at first some of the times for cooking using the sous vide technique can seem daunting as you can be looking a good 24hrs for some items, you literally do not have to do anything other than take a peek to make sure the water level in your chosen devise hasn’t dropped every now and again. All the flavours go in the bag so you know it is going to be tasty, you set the temperature and can go about your last minute Christmas preparation or just relax.

There is no constant probing or turkey legs or doing the hokey cokey with the tin foil whilst you sit praying at the oven door as you want to take a look but don’t want to let the heat out it just takes care of itself. The only thing you do need to consider when cooking turkey Sous Vide is that you would need to portion the bird.

Whilst this may have an impact on the ‘ta dah’ moment when the turkey is presented, it’s a small price to pay for succulent, juicy meat that is perfectly cooked. You will never think of turkey as dry again.

What items can be prepared ahead of the actual day?

The only thing I would do on the day would be to roast the potatoes off and finish off the turkey. Everything else would be prepared a few days before and then refreshed on the day. People who get up at 6:00AM to tend to the turkey on Christmas Day are setting themselves up for a whole day of stress. I even cook my vegetables before!

What other meat would you suggest if someone didn’t want to cook the traditional turkey?

Goose is amazing and pheasant or duck are regulars on our Christmas table.

What’s your favourite tipple at Christmas?

Whatever I can get my hands on! Seriously, if I’m enjoying not being the cook I am a very happy man so will take any tipple sent my way. A favourite wine to cook with perhaps? A nice fruity Rioja. Or at Christmas I really like to cook with mulled wine. I don’t think you can beat it for the taste of Christmas.

Aside from the traditional Christmas dinner, what other favourite feast ideas do you have for the party season? Any stand out recipes for Boxing Day or New Year’s Eve?

We usually have something on Boxing Day and I would always favour the Sous Vide festive ham – cold cuts are brilliant for a large gathering and again can be prepared in advance.

What are your top tips for cooking for large groups whilst still being able to enjoy the party? Preparation, preparation, preparation. Do as much in advance as you can. Even the vegetables can be done beforehand and you save yourself so much stress on the day. I see so many people not enjoy their actual meal as it has felt like a marathon to get it to the table. You shouldn’t be holed up in the kitchen, you should be enjoying your guests!

Are there any cooking activities that the family can help with? How can families get the kids involved?

My kids love cooking and baking and always like to get involved, plating up the starters beforehand or helping to lay the table is always a winner and there’s always the washing up to be done!