Chef Josh Eggleton's Christmas cooking tips
PUBLISHED: 11:38 07 December 2018 | UPDATED: 11:38 07 December 2018
Winner of Somerset Life Food and Drink Award for best chef, Josh Eggleton is championing a no waste Christmas discovers Catherine Courtenay
Josh Eggleton is in the field alongside his family’s pub, The Pony and Trap. Winslow the dog scampers around him, charging unhelpfully through the medley of flourishing vegetables in the raised beds. Gardener Tim is shouting at chef’s highly excitable spaniel but Josh is in his element, selecting a glorious purple cauliflower specimen for that day’s menu.
Overlooking the beautiful Chew Valley, the no dig veg plot, Tim tells me, was Josh’s idea, and despite being planted in the heat of this summer, it’s flourishing, producing all manner of vegetables and salads for the pub kitchen, in addition to the fruit orchard and polytunnels.
The 35-year-old chef, whose pub has held a Michelin star since 2011, is a big veg fan as he tells me: “A great Sunday lunch is always about the veg, the meat is a garnish and the gravy brings it together.”
He even goes so far as to suggest you don’t need meat to make a great Sunday lunch – just load up with the veg.
The pride in his produce also partly explains his attitude to waste. He’s passionate about cutting back on food waste.
“All properly run kitchens don’t waste anything; it’s the same at home and Christmas should be no different.”
He loves bread pudding, he says, and leftover roast potatoes can be made into a tortilla for Boxing Day. Bubble and squeak is “an absolute favourite” which even goes on the Pony’s post Christmas menus.
He’ll make soup from crab and prawn shells and new technology helps too, like using super blenders. Two years ago they would have discarded the dark green tops of leeks but they now can make a “deep flavoured, allium-y” oil using a blender.
He admits that his tastes have changed over the years, he’s eating more fish and more delicate flavours: “Five or six years ago I was into bold flavours, red wine and gravy. As you get older you eat lighter. And it comes from having the garden out there; it’s about celebrating the garden, using balance to create harmony on the plate.”
Christmas for Josh means all the family mucking in with the cooking. His advice for the big day? “You don’t have to be different, but you don’t have to stick to tradition. Just ask yourself what you want to do at Christmas. Find out where to get amazing produce; write down what you want to cook and then knock off 30%.”
“Calm it down,” he says. “Farm the desserts and the snacks out to the family to sort so you can focus on the Sunday lunch.”
Josh’s Christmas cooking tips:
• I love cauli cheese with any roast - so it’s always there for my Christmas. It’s great because afterwards you can turn it into cauli cheese soup.
• My favourite green at winter is sprout tops – I prefer them to sprouts. Leafy and sprouty and also perfect in bubble and squeak.
• Glazed parsnip. You need a deep frost for parsnips. Cut in half, blanch and brush with butter, Marmite and honey and put in the oven or under a hot grill.
• Roast Potatoes – Cook too many and save them for Boxing Day. Duck fat is over by the way, use organic chicken fat or British rapeseed oil instead.
• Brining a bird makes it super juicy. You’d do this overnight in salt water and add your herbs etc to the water.
• There’s always loads of family and extended family getting together for Christmas, but if there’s not too many of you buy a goose or duck breast each for the day - pan seared - and roast a chicken for Boxing Day.