Have a delicious and seamless little Christmas, thanks to these chef-approved tips

Want to host (or be hosted by) the perfect Christmas day? We asked New Zealand’s leading restaurateurs, chefs and foodies what they do to prepare for a stress-free and peaceful day.

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We prepare as far in advance as possible, always, for everything. We rely on our deli to nibble and keep entrees light. In the summer, we marinate meat ahead of time so it cooks up quickly on the barbecue, and we keep salads simple. We host a light dinner on Christmas day. It’s super easy with grilled seafood, a big lettuce salad with ranch dressing, and panettone for dessert. This means we have a relaxed evening of family time, but without the pressure of a full meal with all the trimmings. Rebecca Smidt and Darius Lolaiy, Hunter

We do meal plans and divide and conquer. Chand takes some dishes and I take others, marinating meats, chopping and preparing ingredients, making sauces and dressings, it’s all done ahead of time. If a dessert like a Basque cheesecake or sponge cake can be made ahead of time, then we do it. During the day we cook meats, sauté salads and cook any vegetables that are in season. Just like at a restaurant where you prepare ahead of time for dinner service, we do the same at home. sid sahrawat, Cassia, Sid in the French cafe and COL

I usually marinate meat 24 hours before cooking it on the barbecue. If I can, I also make salads ahead of time, like a cold pasta and chorizo ​​salad or an arugula, pear, blue cheese and walnut salad. Lesley Chandra, Owner/Executive Chef, give you ponsonby

I go ahead with the proteins, brining the chicken or bone-in, stuffing and tying it up, and marinating a leg of lamb for the spit. Also, make the trifle for dessert. I am lucky enough to make Christmas pudding a few months in advance at the restaurant. Back in the day, it’s more about preparing vegetables and what’s available in dad’s garden. File Glen, Chef, slow

I make my nana’s Christmas cake months in advance, then pana cotta, ice cream and buckwheat salad the day before. Back in the day, I prepare the turkey and pick the leaves from my salad early in the morning, then I make a focaccia in my old bread maker, it’s phenomenal. Helen Dorresteyn, Clevedon Village Farmers’ Market and Clevedon Buffalo Company

I always cook whole cuts; the preparation and marinating of meat and fish is done the day before. I usually make a side of lime miso cured salmon that I simply grill on the day. In the day it’s all about fresh salads and big bowls of fruit. Nic Watt, Masu, Akarana restaurant, Inca

I love seasonings, so go for things like pickled cherries, stone fruit chutney, and homemade aioli. I try to go ahead on dessert, so the tiramisu and trifle are made the day before, which means cleanup is easy. I always go for a “fill your bowl” type of dessert, served with some fresh fruit. Casey McDonald, Head Chef, Craggy Range

We do a barbecue on Christmas Day, so any meat will most likely be marinated, maybe a sauce or two made ahead of time. Pavlova the day before, passion fruit curd and a few berries all prepared ready to mix. I’ve had some absolute disasters trying to do too many things at once in the day, I’d rather stay up all night to make sure everything goes smoothly. The last thing you want is to set a leg of lamb or beef brisket on fire; trust me, everyone will remind you of this every Christmas. Sam Clark, Central Fire Station

The easiest way to navigate a busy holiday season is to get organized and have a fridge and cabinet stocked with fresh produce. Have anything that can be used as a plate for a quick toss when entertaining. If it’s a planned event, I make a dessert, usually a stunning trifle that is the centerpiece of the table that can be made the day before, or a roasted peach and summer berry pavlova. Callum Liddicoat, Executive Pastry Chef, Park Hyatt Auckland

It’s a busy time of year for us to end up at the restaurant, so we tend to gravitate towards a quick and easy take-out kaimoana dish as our contribution. This year we plan to cook some tuangi (cockles) with a little white wine, butter and herbs from our māra kai accompanied by homemade focaccia to soak the broth. Monique Fiso and Katie Monteith, Hiakai

Pavlova rolled in chestnuts and cherries.  Photo / Babiche Martens
Pavlova rolled in chestnuts and cherries. Photo / Babiche Martens

Easy recipes to have up your sleeve

Take a tall glass and add small pieces of strawberries, 3-4 mint leaves and any citrus you have available. Next, add a double shot of white or white vermouth and top up with soda. It will be the drink of the summer. Andrea Marseglia, Bar Teresa

Cherries, 200ml of red wine vinegar, 100ml of water, cinnamon, star anise and 150g of brown sugar. Boil and pour over some pitted cherries and let cool, before putting them in the fridge. They should last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. casey mcdonald

Generously soak the chicken in a mixture of 150ml lemon juice, 100ml olive oil and 2 garlic cloves, finely grated. This takes almost any grilled or fried meat to the next level. sam-clark

1kg New Zealand tuangi/cockles; 1 onion, sliced ​​thin; 5 garlic cloves, finely minced; 1 green chile, seeded and finely chopped; ½ cup of white wine; 4 tablespoons of butter; 1 large handful of herbs from the garden (we used a mix of lemon thyme, oregano, horopito, and chives, but any fresh herb will do).

Heat a large saucepan until very hot. While the saucepan is heating up, combine the tuangi, onions, garlic, chili, white wine, butter, and herbs in a bowl and mix. Place the ingredients in the pot and immediately place a lid on top to capture the heat and steam. With the lid still on, gently (and carefully) shake the pot to mix the ingredients inside and prevent sticking and burning on the bottom. Remove the lid after two minutes. Tuangi shells should have opened. Pour the tuangi and all the cooking juices into a bowl and serve immediately with fresh bread. Monique Fiso and Katie Monteith

Photo / Babiche Martens
Photo / Babiche Martens

Nothing beats the old traditions

Our Christmas breakfast tradition is champagne. We got it with panettone topped with mascarpone, berries and drizzled with Noble Bourbon barrel-aged maple syrup. rebecca caughey

Our family is big on Christmas decorations, we add a few special ones each year to the tree. We also like to host an “Orphan Christmas” for all of our friends who have no one else to celebrate with, often ending up at ours for a big holiday. sid sahrawat

Prawn cocktail sandwiches start our day. White bread, lots of Tabasco and iceberg lettuce, and lemon juice for squeezing, too. casey mcdonald

On Christmas Eve, my extended whānau gathers for a casual dinner. At midnight, we say a karakia and say what we are thankful for. After that, we hand out secret Santa gifts. I will try to carry on the Van de Elzen tradition of going to midnight mass on the 24th, followed by hot Wolvesenbroodjes (sausage rolls) while the children break up the presents. Michael Van De Elzen, Good From Scratch Cooking School

Good guests always…

Offer to bring a plate to share or add to the table. If the host refuses, come in with a nice bottle of wine, offer to help if you see the host is exhausted, and offer to clean and tidy up if they let you help. sid sahrawat

Be patient! It can be a stressful day for some. Let people do their thing. But it helps with the cleanup. Let your hosts know how wonderful everything is and fix them a drink. Glen File

Bring good wine and flowers or chocolates. Offer to help with the drinks and service, as this is when the pressure is on the cook. helen dorrestey

The next day: What to do with leftovers

Give each guest a box to take home. If you have leftover meat, recycle it into a pie, a sandwich, add it to a stir-fry or curry. Pudding is best saved for a midnight treat. sid sahrawat

Eat trifles for breakfast. So they’re simple sandwiches with all the trimmings, and they just graze all day in our household. Glen File

have a simple cake — 2 sheets of puff pastry on a tray, score the crust with a knife, cover with a good seasoning, then vegetables, meat, cheese, brush the crusts with egg yolk and bake at 180C for 20 minutes. Or if it’s okay, pack a picnic and go to the beach. helen dorresteyn

Make fancy toasted sandwiches. Having some nice bread and a cheese sauce made in the fridge to scoop in the middle makes for great toast. Think chopped ham, pickles, mustard, and some cooked greens with cheese sauce oozing down the sides. casey mcdonald

Eat a lot of wraps and always have some whole wheat wraps in the pantry. I’m also a big fan of two day old pavlova, especially with added berries. sam-clark

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