Award-winning Digbeth chef’s perfect recipe for Christmas Dinner

Michelin Guide 2021 Young Chef of the Year Kray Treadwell gives his top tips on how to cook up a treat for Christmas Day

<p>Kray Treadwell, Michelin Young Chef from 670 Grams in Digbeth</p>

Kray Treadwell, Michelin Young Chef from 670 Grams in Digbeth

Is there anything more stressful than cooking Christmas dinner?

With presents to open, family arriving, and everyone expecting to be fed, the pressure is on to make sure the biggest meal of the year is also the very best.

But with so much to prepare, it’s so easy to mess it up!

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So to help take the strain out of your Christmas Day meal, and make December 25 go as smoothly as possible, we asked super chef Kray Treadwell for his top tips – from gravy and stuffing, to a veg option and making those sprouts taste great!

Hailing from Solihull, winner of Michelin Guide 2021 Young Chef Of The Year award, Kray knows his food.

Having cut his teeth with ‘Yummy Brummie’ Glynn Purnell at his renowned Purnell’s, Kray’s own Digbeth-based 670 Grams belated opened in August 2020 and - despite the challenges of opening a business over the pandemic - has quickly established itself as a destination for a younger generation of eager foodies, keen to try something new and exciting, yet affordable.

Asked how to describe what 670 Grams does best, Kray says: "That’s a hard question to answer: I cook food I find interesting and would like to eat when I go out."

Creating the perfect Christmas dinner

Getting ready for your Christmas meal

The best way to take the stress out of cooking is, as Kray states, “to prepare as much in advance as possible.” Here’s Kray’s tips for what to do in advance, and how to make that festive feast one to remember.

Share the work

“Doing a whole Christmas dinner on your own, on the day, is s***. We go to my mum’s and there’s 17 of us, and with five kids, so we all bring stuff. I bring red cabbage, gravy and always bring a cooked ham – the cooked ham is for the evening, and that’s cooked in advance in coca cola and honey, and left in the fridge.”

The Gravy

“I make the gravy the week before and freeze it, and just add the turkey juices into the gravy on the day. I cook turkey wings and veg, for about two hours, in the oven, and then finish if off on the stove, adding water and a little bit of white wine, and then let it reduce.

“Once it’s cooled down, freeze it.”

A traditional Christmas Dinner

Vegetables: Carrots and Sprouts

“Always peel and chop those on Christmas Eve and leave them on a tray.

“No-one wants to peel on Christmas Day do they? You’ve just opened all your presents and you have a kilo of carrots to peel? Who wants to do that?

“I also blanch them all – the carrots, parsnips and cauliflower. Blanch them for two minutes [place in boiling water then under a cold tap], then put them under cling-film and leave them in the fridge over night. You can just get them out an hour before dinner.

“People always cook vegetables in loads of different ways don’t they? Put carrots in the oven, boil the sprouts. I get butter, thyme and some water, mix it all together and toss all the veg at the same time, just before I put on the plate.

“Get the biggest carrots you can. The bigger the carrots the more you can get out of them so go for the biggest vegetables.

“I don’t like sprouts, so I take the bacon off the Turkey once it’s cooked. Chop up really fine, and toss with cranberry sauce, so they don’t taste like sprouts.

“I really don’t like sprouts – if you do, then you’re in the minority!”

Red Cabbage

“People often get Red Cabbage wrong.

“You slice it thin, and cook with apple juice, a little bit of cider vinegar and sugar, as well as some nutmeg and cloves. Once it’s cooked, leave it under cling film.

“I do it three or four days before Christmas, wait for it to cool down, and put it in a tub in the fridge. That’s something else you can do before Christmas Day. It’s got sugar in it, so it won’t go off. And on the day, you put it in a pan and heat it up.”

A family Christmas Day dinner

Roast Potatoes

“With roast potatoes you want a good quality potato first of all.

“Most people peel them, boil them and then put them straight into the goose fat. But I leave them to steam for about 40 minutes – leave them to steam under a damp cloth. Then toss them, and put them in goose fat. That’s when they get crumbly. But make sure the tray is hot first, so it’s been in the oven for five minutes or so.”

Stuffing

“I’m obviously a chef, so if I’m at home, I’d blend white bread [crumbs] and add some pistachios, cranberries and apricots, and any sausage from a shop – any sausage as long as it’s plain sausage, not a flavoured sausage or anything special. With the skin off, you put in in and mix in all up with half an onion – it’s as easy as that!”

The Turkey

“It always has to be turkey, doesn’t it?

“It’s the only time of year people often eat turkey so you look forward to it. It can be dry – if you put it in the oven for six hours. But remember it’s one hour per kilo for the weight of the bird.

“And then you leave it for an hour on the side afterwards. My Uncle Pete taught me that, he was great with cooking turkey.

“Take it out of the oven, leave it under tin foil, and it just needs to rest. If you take it out of the oven and serve it straight away, you’ll burn your hands (if you’re not careful) and the meat isn’t rested, the juices are not set yet. So leave it for that hour.

“A whole turkey can be expensive but if you’re a small family, you don’t need to buy a whole turkey. Ask your butcher for a turkey breast. You can take that and stuff it, and still get seven or eight portions out of it. That saves you making things like turkey curry for days after, and is a lot cheaper.

“Always wrap the turkey in bacon!

“You can use the bacon with the sprouts (see above).”

Award-winning chef Kray Treadwell from 670 Grams in Digbeth

Side dishes

“You don’t over complicate Christmas dinner. If it doesn’t fit on a plate, it doesn’t fit, and you’re wasting valuable drinking time making dishes people don’t want.

Vegetarian option

“You could do a salted baked celeriac.

“Peel it, rub egg white and salt into it, and bake for an hour.

“The salt and egg keeps it from burning. When you take it out, you can crack the salt and egg mix off, and there’s no caramelisation – as the crust keeps it from caramelising. It tastes beautiful. It’s nice and it’s something a bit different that can still be a real centre piece.”

* 670 Grams is open for bookings until Wednesday 22 December 2021, before reopening for New Year’s Eve-only, and then from mid/late-January 2022. For full details, and how to book, see: 670grams.com

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