FESTIVE FEASTS MADE EASY – TOP TIPS FROM TUDOR PARK MARRIOTT HOTEL & COUNTRY CLUB EXECUTIVE CHEF, TOM BIDDLE
Cooking the perfect Christmas dinner is never easy and we could all do with some professional help and advice when it comes to rustling up a festive family feast.
Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club’s executive chef, Tom Biddle knows a thing or two about getting it right.
The 28-year-old has spent more than a decade working in some of the UK’s best hotels and now heads up the expert team at the four star property.
This year, Tom will be serving up turkey and all the trimmings for guests from across the region, but ahead of that he took time out from his festive prep to share some of the secrets of his success.
Do you have any tips for reducing Christmas kitchen stress?
Be well prepared. Have a clear timeline so you know when to do things and how long things should be done for. This will help you keep on track, avoid under or overcooking anything and will make the morning a lot less stressful – giving you time to open some presents and enjoy a glass of mulled wine.
How do you cook the perfect turkey?
Turkey can be very dry so it has to be cooked in a way that will retain as much moisture as possible, keeping in all those lovely juices.
If you’re preparing a whole bird, it’s worth using a thermometer to make sure you cook to a core temperature of exactly 75 degrees Celsius. Overcooking will dry the bird out, but you can also rub seasoned butter underneath the skin or wrap it in bacon to keep juices in too, helping to give it extra flavour.
You can also add a little water to the bottom of the tray and keep the bird slightly lifted off the tray with some rough cut vegetables underneath will also help.
Once the turkey is cooked I always keep it wrapped in tin foil and keep basting with the excess juices until it is ready to serve.
In the hotel we use de-boned and rolled leg and breast to make sure guests always enjoy the best cuts.
What’s the secret to a really good roast potato?
Choosing the right potato is crucial – use Maris Pipers or King Edwards – then steam or boil them until they are almost falling apart and slightly fluffy.
Pop them straight into piping hot oil (I recommend duck fat) in a roasting tray. Shake the tray first to make sure all of the potatoes are coated and then roast at a hot temperature 220oC until golden brown.
What would you recommend as a starter?
Hot smoked duck with Cumberland compote is a real winner – it’s very tasty and a bit different.
I’d love to be able to share the recipe but I can’t as it’s a secret!
When it comes to desserts, do you have a festive favourite?
I don’t think you can beat ‘homely’ Panetone bread and butter pudding, served with good old vanilla custard. It isn’t the traditional Christmas pudding, but it is definitely always a crowd pleasure.
Do you use any regional produce?
I love locally-grown vegetables and they’re a good way to throw something different into the Christmas dinner mix. Some of my favourites are buttered kale, Romanesque cauliflower cheese or honey-roasted piccolo parsnips. Yum!
What is your favourite part of Christmas dinner?
Enjoying all the trimmings (apart from sprouts). Speaking of sprouts…if (like me) guests aren’t keen, criss-cross them to make sure they are well-cooked or shred and cook like cabbage with smoked bacon and chestnuts.
Tudor Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club, Ashford Road, Bearsted, Kent ME14 4NQ