‘Why I love Christmas’ - Galton Blackiston shares his festive tips
PUBLISHED: 14:17 09 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:17 09 December 2018
Galton Blackiston, of Morston Hall, shares some of his best festive memories and tips.
What’s your earliest Christmas memory?
I suppose it was a white Christmas – which shows just how long ago it was. I remember coming down the stairs and seeing everywhere was just white.
What do you love most about Christmas?
I would have to say it’s the fact I don’t have to work! Many many chefs up and down the country will be working on Christmas Day so it’s extra special that I get to spend it with my family. We usually have a big Christmas at home.
Anything you hate about it?
Not a lot. Although I’m a big shopper and the amount of times I get home after Christmas shopping and think ‘I haven’t got enough’ for a certain person and have to go and get more! That’s annoying but there’s nothing I really hate.
Your favourite part of Christmas lunch?
I’m a traditionalist and like a turkey with all the trimmings and a favourite part, I think, is a really nice stuffing using the liver from inside the bird. I usually buy a turkey for everyone who works at Morston and it’s amazing how many don’t want it – they want something different for the day!
Any great family traditions in your household?
We make our own Christmas pudding – it’s always the same –and lighting it and taking it to the table is a big tradition for us. The boys (although they are grown up now) always do it and the trick is trying to get it to the table still lit-up.
Another thing is we always have crackers on the table and someone always gets a Brussels sprout inside. It started years ago because my youngest didn’t, and still doesn’t, eat them and as a youngster we thought it would be a funny thing to do.
Is there a dish you always have on the menu at Morston Hall in the lead up to Christmas?
Yes, there’s a main course of venison en croute which is something quite special. You make a farce to go around the meat containing chestnuts and mushrooms then wrap it in spinach and pastry. It’s a nice festive one.
Have you had any culinary disasters at this time of year?
I think people need to remember the maximum you need to cook a turkey for is three to three and a half hours. I remember many years ago my father used to put it in the oven the night before and it would come out so dry. I also remember by father dropping the gravy, which was a disaster because he prided himself on his gravy. We used teatowels to mop it back into the pan.
What makes the best gravy?
The giblets from the bird. Don’t get rid of them because they do make the best gravy. Also – we all have gravy browning in our cupboards. Use it! I remember Tom Kerridge saying every chef has Bisto and we all do, but we call it gravy browning! I’d say don’t forget to use the vegetable stock from cooking in your gravy either.
And what do you like to put in your stuffing?
I would put in chestnuts, bacon, sausagemeat, the rind of a lemon, herbs (a little bit of thyme), breadcrumbs, an egg to bind it, maybe some chopped mushroom. And generally speaking I wouldn’t cook it separately. I cook it in the neck of the bird.
Do you serve an alternative to Christmas pudding?
We have a couple of things. A nice boozy trifle is always good and both my boys don’t like Christmas pudding much so we do a sticky toffee pudding or something like that.
Brandy butter or custard?
Brandy butter! I make it by taste. Unsalted butter, icing sugar and a copious amount of brandy. I think it’s essential and I have cream with it too.