The perfect Christmas lunch starter

10th Oct 2012

This year we decided to close the restaurant on Christmas day as the boys are at that special age where they are starting to get excited about Christmas already and it’s only October.

My whole family is descending on me for Christmas lunch, that’s my big sister and her brood from America, with all of her in-laws from London, my younger sister with her extended family, all my in-laws from Germany so all in we should be about 28 for lunch.

Now I have the good fortune to have a fully kitted out commercial kitchen to help me cope with such a great responsibility, but even still, I don’t want to spend any more time in the kitchen then I really have too, so it’s all about being organised, and doing as much as I can in advance.

The recipe I have added is the perfect crowd pleaser, it’s been on the menu since we opened 8 years ago, and is by far the most popular dish we have ever served. It fits the Christmas brief perfectly, you can make it now if you like, it’s very freezer friendly, so on the day, toast some bread, you can make the walnut & raisin bread, recipe is included, serve it with some of the amazing red onion chutney. Simple but delicious.

Alternatively you could just cheat, order it all from me in the restaurant, then just sit back and take all the glory.

Between now and Christmas I’ll be putting loads of hints and tips, on what I’ll be doing this year, so I can cope with such a large number of guests, you can find it all on my website, just look in the blog section.

Watch out for the next edition, I’ll be giving a couple of recipes for dessert, both will have a Christmas theme, and both will be easy to make, freezer friendly, tasty to eat, and impressive to look at.

Chicken liver parfait

Makes 1lb loaf tin

  • 500g chicken livers, if using frozen, allow to thoroughly defrost.
  • 500g butter
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 tsp sel rose
  • 1 large onion
  • 250ml Madeira
  • 100ml brandy
  • ½ bunch thyme
  • 5 cloves garlic

Slice the onion and cook without colour in a little oil, once cooked through add the maderia, brandy, garlic and thyme and reduce until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Melt the butter, I do this in the microwave, then warm the chicken livers, eggs and sel rose together with out actually cooking the eggs or livers, you want them to all be at least room temperature, if the mix gets too cold, the butter will set, I find the best place to do this is by the side of a hot cooker.

Now place ½ the egg and liver mix into a blender (you can use a food processor or bar blender) blend until smooth, then add half the butter whilst still blending  a little at a time, then repeat with the other half of the ingredients.

now pass the mix through a fine sieve.pour this mix into a loaf tin, then put the loaf tin into a deep baking tray, fill the tray with water, this is called a bain marie, it helps the parfait to cook evenly and gently.

You will need to cook it for about 1 hour in a low oven at about 130oc, to check the parfait is cooked, just give it a wobble, it should look completely set, cool very well before buttering. To butter the parfait, get one block of butter to room temperature in a mixing bowl, now add the zest of one orange and 2 tablespoons of chopped fresh thyme.

Now you will need to spread the butter mix on top of the parfait, whilst it is still in the loaf tin, set this in the fridge, now run a hot knife around the edge of the terrine, and turn out onto a plate or board lined with baking parchment, chill once more then spread the remaining butter all over the parfait to create a thin coating, chill well then freeze or serve within three days,

Beetroot & Red Onion Chutney

Makes about 500g of chutney that will last for up to 3 months if you put it into a sterilised jar.

  • 400g sliced red onion
  • 50ml white wine vinegar
  • 50ml red wine
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 200g raw beetroot

Finely chop the red onion & cook till translucent in a little vegetable oil. Now add the white wine vinegar, red wine and sugar. Peel and grate the beetroot and add to the vinegar & wine mix. Cook over a medium heat until the onion has absorbed all the liquid.

Walnut & Raisin Bread

Makes 2 loaves, this bread will freeze for up to 1 month

  • 350g granary bread flour
  • 150g strong white bread flour
  • 20g fresh yeast
  • 30g black treacle
  • ½ pint warm water
  • 100g walnut pieces
  • 100g raisins

Mix the yeast with the black treacle and the water, mix this with the flour and knead into an elastic dough for about 15 minutes, now mix in the walnuts and raisins and prove in a plastic bag somewhere warm.

Once the dough has doubled in size, this can take anywhere between one hour and three hours, be patient, once the dough has doubled, dust with flour and knock all the air out, just give it a good old squeeze, now put it back in the bag & let it double in size once more.

Next shape the loaves, you will need to play with it a bit to get it into the tin, we roll it out on a very lightly oiled surface, to a thickness of about 3cm, then roll it up into a swiss roll kind of a shape, put it in the tin, then allow to double in size once more, then bake in a pre heated oven 230oc for 20 minutes, just before putting the bread in the oven we spray it with water, this helps the crust to be super crispy.

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