Adam Smith of Michelin starred Restaurant Coworth Park shares his tips for a five star Christmas dinner

By Tempus | 16 Dec 2021 | Indulge, Travel

Harnessing the power of centuries-old recipes, the culinary maestro is serving up a masterpiece this festive season

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Christmas didn’t quite go to plan in 2020, so it’s no surprise that this year, people are pulling out all the stops when it comes to their festive celebrations.

Nowhere does a magical, quintessentially British Christmas like Coworth Park and its Michelin starred Restaurant Coworth Park, so Tempus has spoken to its executive chef, Adam Smith, to hear his tips and tricks for creating the perfect Christmas roast at home.

How has the Christmas dinner changed over the years – has it become more refined? What do you see on a Christmas dinner plate now that you wouldn’t have ten years ago? 

I’m not sure that there is anything on the plate now that wasn’t 10 years ago, however I do feel things have become more refined and a real focus on the quality and provenance of the ingredients rather than just piling the plate up high which is how I remember Christmas dinners being as a child.    

What will be on the menu at Coworth Park for Christmas dinner this year?

This year we will be starting Christmas dinner off with a beautiful and fresh crab salad garnished with caviar. The main event has to be turkey, I’m a stickler for tradition, love or hate turkey it has to be done just for one day.

What item, for you, is a Christmas dinner not complete without?

Stuffing is possibly my favourite thing on the Christmas dinner plate, having said that - it also needs plenty of gravy!  

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What is your go to Christmas dessert?

Christmas pudding. I think Christmas puddings are at their most delicious in their second year, when they’ve had plenty of time to rest and age well. The other important thing is choosing the right recipe and as I like a bit of tradition, my go-to recipe dates back to 1885.

What are your tips for cooking a great turkey? I recommend using a 6 ‒ 8kg bird as this size doesn’t need too long in the oven and is more likely to retain its moisture, which is essential for a succulent Christmas dinner. I remove the legs and cook these separately with the crown, I find this keeps the meat moist and you can stuff the legs with a mix of sausage meat, chestnuts, sage and onions and cook slowly. I recommend cooking the turkey crown for 50 – 60 minutes at 185˚C/gas mark 4, and then resting for a good 45 – 60 minutes.

What are some good alternatives to turkey for the roast? A whole roast Duck is a great alternative, its makes a great roast and is something we don’t usually have every day and feels very special and fitting for the festive occasion.

Do you have any simple tricks or ingredients to put a 5 star twist on the traditional roast? The best advice I can give is get organised, prep as much as you can the day before, even boil you roast potatoes and leave in the fridge uncovered over night before putting into your hot duck fat the next day, this helps them to be super crispy. Remove the legs from the Turkey, stuff them and cook separately to the breasts, this means you don’t have to overcook the breast to ensure the legs are cooked. I add onions, chestnuts, dried apricots and sage to my sausage meat stuffing, which for me makes it super special.

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Do you have any tricks for making the perfect gravy? No tricks that haven’t been said before, just pay attention to the basics. make sure you de-glaze your roasting trays well, remember nobody likes thin gravy and a little tip is add a tea spoon of marmite!

What wine would you pair with a Christmas dinner? You can’t go far wrong classic red or white Burgundy, but it’s a must to start with a bottle of two of fizz.  

Finally, if you had to choose, what is the best Christmas dinner you’ve ever had? For me Christmas is all about the occasion and being with loved ones, my best Christmas dinners were at my Nans house as a child with all the family around.