Expert cooking tips on how to make most of mains at Christmas

Expert cooking tips on how to make most of mains at Christmas

Carmelle Wilkinson asked the experts for their Christmas dinner cooking tips so you can serve a delicious meal.


Sneakers & Jeans executive chef Danny Sanchez

When preparing a whole turkey, submerse the bird into a salty brine overnight (five litres of water to two cups of salt) to break down the proteins in the meat. This will tenderise the meat and add moisture to the meat as turkey is very lean.

An alternative to roasting a turkey is making turkey burgers.

We moisten them by adding Worcestershire sauce, onion and sauted mushrooms to the ground turkey.

The idea is to emphasize condiments and keep the turkey moist.

The burger is dressed with triple cream brie cheese, cranberry relish, Roma tomatoes and red onion rings.


The Westin executive chePaul Gaspa

The beauty is these days your local butcher does most of the work for you.

Grab yourself a brined, smoked and cooked leg of great Aussie ham.

You then want to prepare a rich and spicy glaze.

At The Westin, we like honey, cinnamon, orange and star anise.

Brush the ham with your glaze and cook slowly at 160 degrees Celsuis to prevent burning. Cook the ham till it’s hot all the way through (you can use a meat thermometer if you wish).

It’s important you continue to glaze every 20 minutes and make sure the ham is on a rack to achieve a great all-round colour.

Serve your ham with creamed cabbage, roast potatoes or roast carrots.


Bistro Guillaume chef de cuisine Robert Murphy

One of my favourite dishes at Bistro Guillaume is the Whole Marron with Caf de Paris Butter – it is to die for.

This is one of the main reasons why I choose to cook marron during the festive season and it is always a crowd pleaser.

Another great thing about cooking seafood at Christmas is that it’s quick and easy, which gives me plenty of time to spend with family and friends.

The best way to cook marron is to drop it into a large pot of boiling water and cook it for seven minutes.

Then place into an ice bath for 15 minutes to immediately stop the cooking process.

Simply peel the shell away, slice and serve with a simple vinaigrette or extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.

If you want to add a bit more flavour, grill a flavoured butter over the top.


Three Pound Group (The Camfield, The Reveley and Stables Bar) executive chef Ben Keal

Ducks are generally fatty birds, so it’s important to always render as much fat as possible from the skin.

Cooking it slowly in a frying pan will also allow the skin to crisp easily.

You can then pour the excess fat and save for crunchy roast potatoes.

The best way to prepare duck is to salt the duck legs with rock salt, orange peel, star anise and thyme. This will help tenderise the meat.

Wash it in the morning thoroughly, cover with vegetable oil in a deep tray and cover.

Cook the duck slowly for three hours on 100 degrees Celsius until the meat falls off the bone.

Duck can then be served with a nashi pear, witlof salad with candied walnuts.


Masterchef Australia 2018 contestant Brendan Pang

Pork is one of the most consumed meats in my household because it’s affordable and versatile, in that it goes with a large range of flavours and offers a wide range of both fatty and lean cuts.

Without attention to detail however, it’s very easy to over-cook pork and end with results that are underwhelming.

Here are my top tips:

  • -Pork cuts, excluding mince and sausages, can be eaten with a hint of pink in the centre.
  • Like all meat, it’s important to remember that pork continues to cook after it is removed from the heat, so take your pork off the heat a couple of minutes early.
  • Bring your meat to room temperature prior to cooking and always cut across the grain when serving.
  • Marinating will always add extra flavour. In fact, my favourite dish is Vietnamese lemongrass pork chops that have been marinated a day early and cooked on the barbecue for a nice char and caramelisation.

My “go to” marinade for pork consists of ground white pepper, salt, lemongrass, minced shallot, minced garlic, palm sugar, fish sauce and a little oil.