David Kennedy's tastes of Christmas

Acclaimed chef David
Kennedy, owner of NE2 Food Social, offers some alternative Christmas favourites

David Kennedy – an acclaimed, multi-award-winning chef
restaurateur who, one assumes, could eat anything imaginable on Christmas Day,
will be sitting down at lunchtime on December 25 to – wait for it – turkey.

Having said that, this is not any turkey. David confits the
legs and roasts the breast rolled in garlic and bacon. Well, hello Mr Turkey – and welcome
David claims he’s only having turkey because his kids are a
bit fussy and won’t stand for anything else, though he agrees that if you don’t
have turkey at Christmas, you’re hardly likely to have it any other time of
year, so you might as well give it a whirl.
The rest of the festive season in the Kennedy household is a
time of festive feasts and a ready supply of pre-prepared snacks and nibbles
for the frequent visitors.

“Nothing that’s going to keep you in the kitchen the whole
time,” he says. “It’s all food you can have prepared and then produce with
little effort. No one wants to visit a house where the cook is locked in the
David’s ethos at his NE2 Food Social at the Biscuit Factory
in Newcastle is
rooted in sociable food and the tables heave with collections of tapas-sized
dishes for sharing and big feasts for groups who love the freedom of wholesome
food they can carve and serve for themselves.

Food in the Kennedy household is much the same and David
loves nothing better than traditional cuts of meat and vegetables fresh from Ken
Holland’s famed veg gardens at Wallington and Vallum near Corbridge.

“Joints like collar of pork, brisket, shoulder of lamb – all
these traditional cuts make superb roasts that can feed everyone happily, and
there’s a bit of theatre too with a great roast,” he says.
“Food like this reminds me of my grandmother’s house, when
everyone – my uncles and half the pub – would turn up on a Sunday and there was
always, miraculously, plenty for everyone. The social element of food is
incredibly important, and Christmas is the ultimate example of that.”
David’s key is good produce prepared well ahead. “Keep it
simple, don’t go overboard,” he says, which is easier said than done, though
the following tips should help. Happy Christmas…
David Kennedy’s Food Social, The Biscuit Factory, Stoddart Street, Newcastle, NE2 1AN, tel 0191
261 1103, www.

Posh pork


The roast Pork
loin and pork fillet (Crane Row Farm, Bishop Auckland), assorted dried fruit
Pork pie Bought
puff pastry, minced pork and smoked bacon
Onion and apple
White onion, apple, white breadcrumbs, milk, egg
Veg Brussels
sprouts and chestnuts, dark green cabbage

Gravy Pork
juices, stock, red wine


Pork loin Salt
and score the skin of the joint the day before and refrigerate close to the
back of the fridge to draw out the moisture, which allows you to get a better
crackling. The next day, roast and rest.

Pork fillet Mix
assorted dried fruits to your own taste and mix in a little warm water, add to
a piping bag and pipe into the fillet. Sear fillet in a pan, place in a baking
tin with a little butter and put in a hot oven at 180C for just three minutes.
Veg Wilt the
greens, blanch the sprouts and stir in chestnuts sweated in butter.
Apple and onion
Thinly dice equal quantities of thinly diced white onion and apple
and sweat in pork fat. Soak a couple of handfuls of breadcrumbs in milk, infuse
with a bay leaf, nutmeg and salt and pepper, combine with the onion and apple and
whiz. Add an egg and pop into moulds topped with cling film and steam for 1
hour. Refrigerate and serve the next day, warmed in the microwave.
Pork pie Mix
minced pork trimmings and smoked bacon bits with a little cayenne and paprika,
finely diced raw white onion, salt and pepper. Make into ping pong-sized balls
and place in the centre of small bought puff pastry discs, cover with another
disc of pastry to make a bowler hat shape, brush with egg and cook in a warm
oven at 180C for 10 minutes. Makes a brilliant roast accompaniment, canapé or
snack. Great to keep in the freezer as a standby.
Gravy Remove the
pork from the tin after it has rested, add a splash of red wine and stock to
the juices, boil and simmer, reduce and finish with a knob of butter.

Pheasant rilletes


8 pheasant legs, garlic, green peppercorns, thyme, duck or
goose fat, diced carrot, sherry vinegar. Croutons, beetroot, walnuts and salad
leaves to serve
Rilletes Coat the
pheasant legs in coarse sea salt, garlic, peppercorns and thyme and leave for
12 hours, then rinse and plunge in a casserole of warm (not hot) duck or goose
fat (enough to cover the meat), put on a lid and place in the bottom of an oven
at 160C for 3 hours, remove and leave to cool (don’t remove the meat).
Once cool enough to handle, flake the meat, add the green
peppercorns and diced carrots cooked in goose fat, add thyme and a splash of
sherry vinegar to your own taste and mix, put in ramekins with a layer of the
fat over the top and refrigerate.

This will keep a good ten days in the fridge. To serve,
remove from fridge and keep at room temp for an hour before eating, and serve
with croutons and a beetroot salad.
Beetroot salad Make
a salad using raw baby beets and beetroots baked in foil and dressed with a
walnut oil dressing. Sprinkle with walnuts and serve with croutons.

Black pudding with
duck egg and crispy skins

Ingredients Black
pudding, duck egg, chestnuts and stale bread, thyme, sage, duck skin

Method Whiz chestnuts,
stale bread and Olivera oil with thyme and sage, bake and set aside. Salt duck
skin and roast in a hot oven. Heat black pudding in an individual omelette pan,
crack a duck egg on the top, add a few green cabbage leaves, and sprinkle over
the chestnut crunch and skins. Serve in the pan with a Bloody Mary on the side.
Great sides or buffet

Baby carrots

Make a butter using thinly diced red onion, tarragon and a
couple of cracked cardamom pods. Blanch baby carrots and then finish over a low
heat with the butter.
White turnips
Take white turnips, blanch in boiling water for 4 mins, take
out and allow to dry naturally (do not refresh), roast in oil from a pan of
smoky bacon, add sage leaves and bacon bits.
Fine beans

Blanch in salt water for 3 mins and finish with dukka – a
middle eastern spice you can make yourself by combining black sesame seeds,
fennel seeds, cumin, sea salt, hazelnuts and a pinch of chilli flakes, combined
and toasted and then stirred through the beans.
Cinnamon Pannacotta
with mulled fruits and hazelnut crunch

300ml full fat milk

100ml double cream
15g caster sugar
1 ½ leaves gelatine

½ stick cinnamon
Pinch cinnamon powder
Mulled fruits Plums,
figs, apple, pear, grapes (or others to your taste)
Red wine, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla pod, ½ bayleaf,
dollop redcurrant jam, brown sugar to taste, sprinkle of cloves, zest of an

Hazelnut crunch Hazelnuts,
brown sugar


Pannacotta Soak
the gelatine in cold water. Warm the milk, cream and sugar and infuse with the
cinnamon and strain. Warm the gelatine, add to the milk and cream mix and put
in moulds, pots or glasses in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

Mulled fruits Mix
the ingredients apart from the fruit and simmer, add the fruit and slow cook to
a syrup. Refrigerate until needed.

Hazelnut crunch
Skin hazelnuts (bake in oven for a few minutes and rub in a tea towel and the
skins will come away), heat brown sugar in a pan to form a caramel, pour onto
an oven tray, allow to cool, bash with a rolling pin, sprinkle this and the
nuts onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray and cook for just one minute at
170C. Remove and cool on wire and break into pieces to serve

And if you must… a
new take on turkey

Ingredients Turkey, smoked
bacon, garlic butter

Method Remove the
legs and confit by salting and refrigerating for 12 hours, then poaching in
duck fat and refrigerating for another 12 hours, then finishing in the oven on
a baking tray.

For the breast, lay slices of bacon on a board, cover in
garlic butter, lay over breast meat and roll up and roast at 180C for about an
hour, depending on size.

Serve with chestnut stuffing, cranberry relish and veg.

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