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Top Michelin star chef and one of the Queen’s former cooks, Jeff Baker, has shared his favourite meats to serve to friends and family on Christmas Day. According to Jeff, there are four other meats that make a delicious centrepiece on the dinner table: duck, pork, beef, and venison.
Jeff shared his cooking expertise with Express.co.uk, offering his top tips on how to perfect the different meats.
The former chef revealed how to prepare the centrepieces and which flavours to pair them with.
Although it is usually associated with pancakes, hoisin sauce, and peking flavours, duck is a great Christmassy choice too.
Jeff said: “Duck should always be satisfyingly succulent and rich – flavours that shouldn’t be a stranger to your Christmas table.
“When glazed to perfection, these birds are wonderful for roasting whole, as the main event on Christmas day.
“If you opt for duck this year, I’d recommend pairing your bird with fruit and nuts flavours – ideally a plum pudding stuffing, chestnuts and crispy roast potatoes.”
The chef added that “preparation is key” and so cooks should make sure to take note of the weight of the duck before roasting it.
Jeff said: “Once you’ve weighed your bird, prick the skin all over, before scalding the crown with a litre of boiling water and then leave it to air dry in the refrigerator overnight.
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“Once your duck is ready to roast, gently massage the meat with a little oil and sea salt and allow it to creep up to room temperature.
“For the best results, remember to place the duck breast side up in a large, heavy based roasting tray, on a trivet of chopped onion, carrot and green apples.
“The melody of vegetables and fruit will complement the bird wonderfully.”
When paired with winter fruits, “a succulent loin of pork has the power to really make your Christmas dinner stand out”, according to Jeff.
He added: “When infused with fruity flavours, the savoury taste of a good quality pork loin rack is magnified to make for a really delicious combination. I’d recommend serving your rack with some seasonal brassica, roast potatoes and, of course, apple sauce.”
Jeff’s top tip when it comes to cooking pork is to season it with sea salt before.
“For the best flavour and taste, place the pork fat side up on a trivet of vegetables – usually onions, celery and carrots – before placing in the centre of your oven to roast for 20 minutes at 23 degrees celsius,” the chef said.
“Once that’s done, reduce the temperature to 160 degrees celsius and roast for a further 20 minutes, so that the core temperature of the pork reaches 65 degrees celsius.
“To finish off your centrepiece, increase the temperature to 230 degrees celsius and continue to roast for a further 15 minutes – this is so the crackling is extra crisp.
“For optimum flavour, remember to rest for a minimum of 30 minutes before carving.”
If not for Christmas Day, beef is a great option for Boxing Day.
Jeff said: “Paired with the right flavours, a mouth-watering sirloin of beef is sure to please your guests this Christmas.
“To achieve a rich and sweet taste, I suggest incorporating garlic and balsamic vinegar into your roast.
“You could even steer away from the traditional roast potato and opt for some gratin dauphinois, alongside some roasted shallots and a rich red wine sauce.”
The Queen’s former chef added: “To cater for the masses this Christmas, you’re likely to need a large, heavy-based roasting tray for your beef joint.
“Construct a trivet of roughly chopped vegetables, made up of onion, celeriac and carrot, as well as a bay leaf and a sprig of time. Don’t forget the peppercorns.”
Lastly, Jeff recommended serving venison at the Christmas table if none of the other meats tickle your fancy.
He said: “Extremely rich in taste and deep in colour, venison can be enjoyed with robust sauces and hard herbs: married with the right balance of flavour, venison can be a seriously show stopping seasonal centrepiece.
“The distinctive taste of venison sits well alongside festive fruit flavours, such as prunes, raisins, cranberries and apricots.
“If you like a Christmas tipple, then seeping the cognac fruits in an indulgent brandy is sure to warm up your dinner plate.
“Make your meal extra festive by sitting your venison alongside roast parsnips, Brussel sprouts and a rich red wine sauce.”
To cook to perfection, a cut of good quality venison takes only 20 minutes in total.
Jeff explained: “Over high heat, carefully sear the venison and roast for approximately 15 minutes and be sure to turn it carefully over once or twice.
“If done correctly, the venison should be soft to touch, with a little spring when pressed with your thumb.
“If you’re keen for a deliciously rare finish, then your venison should have a core temperature of 50 degrees celsius before resting.”
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