In conversation with

Festive feasting with Adam Smith

November 04, 2019

Coworth Park’s Michelin-starred executive chef, Adam Smith, takes time out from his busy countdown to Christmas to share some of his top tips for a festive feast to remember.

What are your tips for cooking the best possible Christmas turkey?

I recommend using a 6 ‒ 8kg bird as this size doesn’t need too long in the oven and is more likely to retain its moisture, which is essential for a succulent Christmas dinner. I remove the legs and cook these separately with the crown, I find this keeps the meat moist and you can stuff the legs with a mix of sausage meat, chestnuts, sage and onions and cook slowly. I recommend cooking the turkey crown for 50 – 60 minutes at 185˚C/gas mark 4, and then resting for a good 45 – 60 minutes.

Do you have any advice for how to put a twist on the traditional trimmings?

I’m a great believer in the classics and, more importantly, cooking the classics well. The one exception I make to this is that I like to jazz up the stuffing. This can be done with the addition of many different ingredients from apricots to rosemary, or even truffle and foie gras for a richer flavour.

What makes the perfect Christmas pudding?

I think Christmas puddings are at their most delicious in their second year, when they’ve had plenty of time to rest and age well. The other important thing is choosing the right recipe and as I like a bit of tradition my go-to recipe dates back to 1885.

Do you have any recommendations for taking the hassle out of Christmas Day cooking?

The secret here is all in the preparation. I suggest preparing all your vegetables the day before so that they’re ready to be cooked. You can also prep the turkey by boning the legs and preparing the crown so they’re ready for the oven. By sticking to the simple things there’s less fuss and really delicious food.

For a starter, in my opinion nothing beats a good old-fashioned prawn cocktail.

What’s your favourite canapé to serve at a Christmas party?

I love smoked salmon blinis served with a chilled glass of Champagne. We don’t have food like that very often in my house but Christmas is the perfect time for these canapés, and they’re quick and easy to make.  

Tell about your typical Christmas Day?

I’ve worked every Christmas Day since I was 15 so that’s my tradition! When I get home after work thought that’s my time to be with my family and enjoy delicious food. If I was at home on Christmas day, I definitely wouldn’t be doing the cooking!

How did you devise the Christmas menu for Coworth Park and what are the stand-out dishes? 

At Coworth Park the expectations of our guests are particularly high. Some are looking for authentic traditional dishes and others for something a little different. It’s about finding the balance between the two and providing a delicious experience for everyone. I add a couple of special, luxury dishes and combine these with the classics. For example, this year we have a choice of John Dory with leeks, girolles and lovage or traditional roast turkey with all the trimmings.

I hope my ideas add to your enjoyment of the festive season, and if you get the chance please do come and dine with us at Coworth Park.

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