We ask Dubai's top head chefs how to cook up a memorable festive feast
Time Out Dubai staff
Cooking the festive feast this year but feeling a bit apprehensive? We spoke to Head Chefs Ben Tobitt, from The Ivy, and Scott Stokes at The Rivington Grill, to get some expert advice.
Starter: Cauliflower and walnut pesto soup Ingredients For the walnut pesto 2g crushed garlic cloves 30g basil leaves, chopped finely 80ml olive oil 10g roasted walnuts 10g grated parmesan For the soup 2 large onions, roughly chopped 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 2 head cauliflower, roughly chopped 1.5ltr milk Salt and milled pepper, to taste Unsalted butter, for cooking
Method For the Walnut Pesto • Heat the oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas 5 • Roast the crushed garlic on a flat metal tray until golden brown (don’t burn!) • On a separate tray, roast the walnuts for three minutes • Add roasted garlic, basil leaves, olive oil, roasted walnuts and grated parmesan to a blender, and whiz until smooth – adjusting the consistency by adding olive oil
For the soup • In a thick bottom pan, add the onion and garlic and a large knob of butter, and cook together gently on a medium heat (so the mix doesn’t colour) until soft • Add the cauliflower to the onion mix, and cook for a minute. Then pour in the milk and simmer until the cauliflower is tender (approximately five minutes). • Place the mix in a blender, and whiz until smooth, then add salt and pepper to taste. • Finish with a spoonful of walnut pesto drizzled over the soup.
Main Course: Roast turkey with toasted vegetables Ingredients (Serves 6-8) 1 x large turkey 7-8 kg, trimmed into breast and legs. 50g butter Salt and pepper, to taste
For stuffing 150g dried apricot, chopped 100g panko bread crumbs 15g sage, finely chopped Salt and pepper, to taste
For roasted veg 2kg potatoes, peel cut and blanch 500g suede, peel, cut and blanch 500g Brussels sprouts, clean, and score 500g parsnips, peel and blanch 30g chopped garlic 15g chopped thyme 50g butter 30g honey Salt and pepper, to taste Method For turkey • Preheat the oven to 375°F/190°C/Gas 5 • Cut the legs off the body of the turkey and remove the bones (ask a butcher to do this part for you if you’re unsure) leaving a hollow area for stuffing • Rub the butter all over the bird and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper • By hand, mix all the ingredients for the stuffing together and put in the boneless turkey legs. Roll with cling film so they don’t fall apart • Place the cling filmed legs into a steamer for 15-20 minutes until cooked • Open the cling film and sear the skin of the legs in a frying pan • Sear the breast in a hot pan until coloured, and place in a roasting tray in the centre of the oven • Cook at 375°F/190°C/Gas 5 for 35 – 40 minutes • Cook until the juices run clear when the thickest part of the breast is pierced with a skewer and the skin is brown and crispy.
For vegetables • On a large tray, mix garlic and thyme with potato, suede and parsnip. Roast all together at 375°F/190°C/Gas 5 until the vegetables start to colour, and soften slightly. Finish with honey • Place Brussels sprouts in a pan of boiling water and boil for 7-10 minutes, drain and toss in a pan of melted butter. • Add salt and pepper to taste
Dessert: Eggnog Parfait Ingredients (Serves 5) For parfait 237.5ml full fat milk 1¼ cloves, whole 2 vanilla pods, deseeded ½ g cinnamon powder ½ g nutmeg, finely grated 60g egg yolk, pasteurized 75g caster sugar 237.5ml whipping cream
For rose tea-infused liquor 1 tea bag ½ orange peel, pith removed 250g pitted prunes 250ml filtered water 50ml rose water
For garnish 250g macerated prunes
Method • Place the orange peel in a saucepan and top up with the water. Add the tea bag and bring to boil. Once boiled, remove from the heat and leave to infuse 10 minutes. • Taste your mix, and once happy with the flavor, remove the tea bag • Pour your tea mixture over the prunes and leave to soak in a bowl in the fridge overnight. When ready to use, remove the orange skin and cut into thin strips • Whip the cream until soft peaks have formed and refrigerate. • Bring the milk, cloves, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg to the boil in a saucepan and leave for 20 minutes to infuse. • Whisk the egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until well mixed and doubled in volume, then pass the mixture through a sieve (removing the spices) into the bowl and whisk well. • Place the above mix into a sauce pan and cook gently on a low heat until thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. Remove from the heat and chill. Once cold, fold in the egg whites and place into your chosen mould for freezing. • To serve, place a knife in warm water, dry then slice the parfait and place on a plate. Garnish with prunes, orange peel, and the rose tea liquor.
Preparations According to Scott, ‘Start thinking about it now! What do you need? If you’re going for a traditional Christmas Day, you’ll need Turkey, vegetables, gravy, mince pies…the list goes on. Make a checklist and start shopping early to leave yourself plenty of time.’ Ben echoes these thoughts and ads, ‘head out and purchase a fresh, free range turkey around December 21st. Pick up your vegetables around the 23rd of the month, and begin the cooking preparation on Christmas Eve.’ Vegetarian Christmas dinner For vegetarian Christmas-inspired recipes Ben advocates something akin to The Ivy’s wild mushroom tortellini with cep cream and winter truffle. Scott’s personal favourite would be The Rivington Grill’s roasted fig, squash and cider hollandaise tart:
Is it done? The turkey will take about three hours to cook from room temperature. Scott advises checking that the skin is light golden brown, the center temperature is 75°C and the juices run clear when you insert a knife into the thickest part of the leg joint. Ben adds that allowing the turkey to stand for 30 minutes allows the juices to redistribute and makes for easier carving.