As you prepare to cook a feast for your family during the holidays, we’ve gathered 4 chefs to share 4 unique Christmas dinner recipes, each focusing on a meat that you can experiment with.
Chef Maureen Obolla from Steak Out restaurant
Chef Maureen has a great passion for food production and pastry. She started baking easy plain cakes as early as the age of four! In 2002, she enrolled at the Top Chef Culinary Institute of Arts and simultaneously trained with Executive Chef Huwyler at Lord Erroll and Executive Chef Gacheru from The Tamarind Nairobi. For Maureen, being a chef is not only about cooking. There’s a lot more that comes with the title and so the in-house training exposed her over time to the principles of how a restaurant works right down to finishing off a good dish.
Thyme And Maple Glazed Pork Chops With Spring Vegetables
- 300gms Pork Chops
- 1tbsp maple syrup
- Sprig Thyme
- Chef’s mixed spice
- Pinch Salt
- Pinch Black pepper
- 2bsp corn oil
- 50 gms baby potatoes
- A handful of baby carrots
- 50gms sugar snaps
- 2 cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
- Place the chops on a plate and season with a sprig of thyme, maple syrup, pepper and chef’s mixed spice. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 30mins or overnight for better flavouring.
- While the meat is marinating, prepare your vegetables by cleaning and cutting to the desired shape.
- Boil the potatoes in a pan of hot salty water for 8 minutes and then add the rest of the vegetables for a further 2 minutes to maintain the crunchiness.
- In a pan, melt the butter and add the cloves of garlic. (To get more flavour from the garlic, crush them with the side of a knife) then fry the pork chops.
- When frying the pork chops, keep basting with olive oil mixed with rosemary. Remove when golden brown and finish in the oven for 5 to 10 mins at 180 degrees.
- Using the same pan the pork chops were fried in, toss the pre-cooked vegetables and add a little vegetable stock, leave to simmer for about 5 mins.
- Plate the meat and vegetables as desired on a plate. Serve with gravy.
- For Christmas, one can use a whole striploin of pork then carve for the guests as a centrepiece at the dining table.
Chef Marius Ackermann from Kempinski
Chef Marius is an executive chef from Germany and has been working in fine dining restaurants for more than 10 years. With humble beginnings as an apprentice in Germany, he has managed to work his way through Michelin star restaurants and Gault Millau awarded restaurants. He has worked in seven different countries including Indonesia and has brought this knowledge of international cuisine with him to Kenya. He has managed to add a touch of elegance and refinement to all the meals offered at the hotel with elaborate plating and well-paired dishes.
Whole Roasted Christmas Duck
- 1pc whole duck
- 150gr prunes
- 2 apple (sour)
- rosemary dry
- thyme dry
- marjoram dry
- 2 bay leaves
- pepper powder white
- 100gr clarified butter
- 250ml red wine
- 250ml poultry stock (chicken stock)
- 30ml Port wine
- 30gr corn flour
- Season the duck inside and out with salt, pepper, neat rosemary, marjoram and thyme. Wash one or two apples (depending on the size), cut into quarters and take the seeds out. Put them in the duck, then add 1 – 2 handfuls of the prunes to it. Sew up the duck or close (simply and well) with roulade needles. Leave to infuse overnight or for at least 6 hours.
- The next day preheats the oven to 200 ° C (top/bottom heat, circulating air: 180 ° C). Place the duck in a large roasting pan with clarified butter in the oven for about 2 hours.
- From time to time douse with your own frying fat. In the last half hour don’t pour more, so that the skin gets nice and crispy.
- Put the duck back in the oven on an extra tray. Just before serving, cut into pieces with the poultry shears and place the apple and prunes on an extra plate. The gravy from roasting pan is still needed for the sauce.
- For the sauce, drain ¾ of the fat of the duck. Pour the gravy with the red wine and poultry stock and try to scrape off the roast leftovers with a whisk or wooden spoon. Pour through a fine sieve into an extra pot and bring to a boil, reduce the sauce to half and season with herbs, salt, pepper and Port wine. Mix the cornflour with a whisk together with some cold water. Slowly add the mixture to the gravy until the sauce gets the right thickness, simmer for 5 minutes.
- Serve the duck together with some braised red cabbage and bread dumplings.
Chef John Muriithi from Hilton Nairobi
Chef John Muriithi is the Executive Chef at the Hilton Nairobi. A passionate professional by nature, he boasts 17 years of culinary experience in an impressive career spanning Europe and Africa. John is a well-renowned chef who has won awards at both national and international level of the Chaine des Rotisseurs competition and he brings in dynamic and innovative energy to Nairobi’s diverse culinary scene.
Roast Christmas Turkey
- 5-6kg oven-ready turkey, neck and giblets removed and kept for the gravy
- 1 onion, halved
- 1 lemon, halved
- Whole garlic, halved
For the salt mix:
- 2 tbsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp thyme leaves
- 1 tsp peppercorns
For the butter:
- 100g butter
- 4 tbsp vegetable bouillon powder
- 1 lemon, zested
- Make the salt mix by grinding the salt with the thyme leaves and pepper in a spice grinder or using a pestle and mortar. Set the turkey in a roasting tin and gently push your fingers under the skin, starting from the neck, until you can push your whole hand in down the length of the breast. Take care not to tear the skin.
- Season the bird all over with the salt mix, inside and out and under the skin. Leave the turkey in the tin, breast-side up, and put in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hrs – the longer you salt it, the more succulent the turkey will be. For crispier skin, leave the turkey uncovered so it dries out.
- Tip the butter, vegetable stock powder and lemon zest into a small bowl and mix until completely combined. Cover and chill.
- Remove the turkey from the fridge an hour or so before you want to cook it. Remove the butter from the fridge to soften. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Work out your cooking time based on 40 mins per kg for the first 4kg, plus 45 mins for every kg after that.
- Use your hands to spread the butter under the skin so that it covers the entire breast area and work it into the crevice between the thigh and the main body, then smooth the skin over with your hands. Put the onion, lemon halves, and garlic in the cavity.
- Cover the tin loosely with foil and roast for the calculated cooking time. Around 30 mins before the end of cooking, increase the oven temperature to 200C/180C, remove the foil, baste the turkey and return to the oven. When the turkey is beautifully brown and cooked through, remove from the oven and leave to rest on a warm platter covered with foil for up to 1 hr. Save the juices from the tin to make gravy.
Chef Sarah Jane Russell from Tamanisha
Christmas has always been a big family affair for Sarah. She grew up in England, where every Christmas Day would start with a lavish breakfast of Scottish Smoked Salmon, served with crustless brown bread slices, unsalted butter and lemon. Her childlike wonder of all things food stayed with her as she grew up and flew the nest for more exotic climes, where she made Kenya her home. Here, she’s spent her Christmases in the sun rather than the snow, and while she still loves a good turkey dinner, she enjoys putting her own twist on holiday classics using yummy local ingredients.
Beetroot Cured Snapper
1 large fillet of white snapper (700g) with skin on
175g caster sugar
175g grated raw beetroot
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 bunch fresh dill
Your choice of bread (I prefer dark rye)
Freshly ground black pepper
RULE: The perfect cure should be half the weight of the fish you are using; the cure is made up of half sugar and half salt, so adjust your recipe according to how much your fish weighs. The beet element should be the same as the salt or sugar.
- Check your fish has no scales and you have removed any bones with tweezers. Avoid washing it in water and instead use a damp cloth, then dry with kitchen towel.
- Squeeze out the excess liquid in the grated beetroot, then mix together with the salt and sugar.
- Lay the fish on a sheet of baking paper skin side down and pat the cure mix onto the flesh side so it’s completely covered.
- Wrap up the fish tightly in the paper then secure with cling film so you have a watertight parcel. Place this on a tray in the fridge and leave for 24 hours.
- The cure removes all the moisture from the fish, so be careful when you open up your parcel that you don’t cover yourself in bright pink liquid (it stains!).
- Scrape off the beetroot and cure mix, then splash the fish with water to rinse off the rest. Then completely dry the cured fish with kitchen towel and place on a clean piece of baking paper.
- Smother the flesh with the mustard and then chop up the dill and cover on top. Wrap it up again and return to the fridge for another 24 hours.
- There’s no need to rinse it again, the fish is ready to serve. Cut thin slices and eat with bread, butter and lemon to squeeze over. Delicious and beautiful!