He is a familiar face on our TV screens. He has run 20 marathons, everywhere from the Arctic to Monaco. And is a culinary genius on the international stage. Meet Michel Roux Jr, our Christmas Neighbour of the month. The Chef de cuisine of La Gavroche reveals his latest and greatest recipes, plus some top tips for a stress-free Christmas Day.
Q: Where will you be spending Christmas?
A: In front of the log fire with a glass of Balvenie, my Christmas heaven!
Q: Which Christmas film have you watched the most?
A: I’m actually quite a big Tarantino fan, but his films aren’t particularly festive! I’ll probably stick with the classics.
Q: What makes your perfect home?
A: That’s a simple one: my family, and good food.
Q: Worst Christmas gift of all time?
A: When the boiler blew up. No heater or hot water for a week.
Q: If you were stranded on a desert island – what Christmas food would you take with you and what would you leave behind?
A: I love a good, proper Christmas pudding, so that would definitely be coming with me. I’d probably leave the sprouts behind! I’m not a huge fan.
Q: What is on your Christmas wish list?
The only thing on my Christmas wish list is something money can’t buy – time with my family. I’m a busy man for the majority of the year, so all I want to do at Christmas is eat good food and enjoy some time with my family.
Q: If you could spend Christmas anywhere in the world, where would it be?
A: At home, with my wife and daughter.
Q: Do you have a signature Christmas dish for the family?
A: Slow cooked stuffed goose, damson and chilli sauce, roast potatoes, sprouts with bacon and chestnuts.
Q: Can you suggest any quick and easy festive recipes?
My Christmas tip would be to make mulled cider rather than mulled wine. Warm a bottle of fermented cider (I normally buy mine in France) with a few cinnamon sticks. Add some lemon juice, lemon rind and peel, and a couple of spoonfuls of brown sugar. Keep it warming on the hob, add a splash of Calvados and a slice or two of apple. It’s delicious, and much better than mulled wine!
I find soup is always a good option for a Christmas starter – it leaves you enough room for the main event.
Chestnut and apple soup with rosemary – taken from Michel Roux Jr’s The Marathon Chef, Weidenfeld & Nicolson (www.amazon.com/Marathon-Chef-Food-Getting-Fit/dp/0297843095)
1kg fresh chestnuts
1 litre water
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 sprigs rosemary
4 apples, Coxes or similar
Score the chestnuts with a sharp-pointed knife to prevent them exploding in the oven while roasting. Lay them out on a roasting tray and cook in a hot oven, 230°C/gas mark 8, for 12 – 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove the outer shells and then the skin.
Keep 12 perfectly shaped chestnuts for the garnish and put the rest in a pan with the water. Bring to the boil, season, then add the maple syrup and sprigs of rosemary and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the rosemary, blend the soup until smooth and return to a saucepan. Peel, core and finely dice the apple and add to the boiling soup. Leave to cook for 3 minutes before pouring into hot bowls and garnishing with the whole peeled chestnuts.
Q: Any advice to save time and take the stress out of Christmas?
A: Preparation is key – do everything you can do the day before, and make sure you stick to your timings on the big day. Try not to over-complicate things and try recipes you’ve never done before, keep it simple.
- Michel Roux Jr is the owner of Le Gavroche (43 Upper Brook Street, London W1K 7QR (020 7408 0881 / 020 7499 1826; le-Gavroche.co.uk).
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/michelrouxjr
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/explore/locations/224893111/?hl=en