Christmas food banter with Katrina Ryan | The Gourmand & Gourmet

Christmas food banter with Katrina Ryan

Yes, we realise it’s only the middle of November, but frankly it’s never too early to start planning your Christmas feast. There’s a menu to plan, ingredients to pre-order, and if you’re really keen, Christmas Day Inspirations cooking classes at the Golden Pig Food & Wine School to book. Katrina Ryan, chef and teacher at the Golden Pig, doesn’t leave anything to chance when it comes to Christmas lunch, and she had plenty of tips for us for how to get ready for the biggest meal of the year. We’re not sure we agree with her thoughts on ham (we’re ALLLL about Boxing Day ham and cheese toasted sandwiches), but her outside the box Christmas ideas that won’t leave us sweating in the kitchen all week are definitely a winner! What dish makes an appearance on your Christmas table every year? Most years we bone out a whole salmon or ocean trout and stuff it with a breadcrumb stuffing made from onion, fresh herbs, lemon zest, currants and pine nuts and then wrap the fish in prosciutto before cooking it on the barbecue. It looks great on a buffet and feeds lots of people. Do you have any secret shortcuts in the kitchen to make Christmas cooking easier? Cook something that you are confident making – don’t make Christmas the time to experiment – there is way too much pressure with presents, decorating and getting the house ready – you don’t want to add unnecessary stress! What sort of pre-planning should people do before Christmas to save time? Make lists, order key ingredients well in advance and try and get all the shopping done by the 23rd. Especially avoid any bottle shops on Christmas Eve!  What are your tips for creating an amazing Christmas feast without spending a fortune? Don’t be tempted to buy too many nibbles! They are expensive and spoil the appetite anyway – just a few roasted almonds and good olives will suffice. Spend most of the money on some key ingredients – beautiful fresh seafood, a gorgeous piece of fresh meat, some artisan smoked fish or cheese and accompany them with tasty salads and sides made from fresh seasonal vegetables which are relatively inexpensive.  Are there any local producers or suppliers that are inspiring you this festive season?  I recently tasted some amazing smoked fish products from Harris Smokehouse based in the Adelaide Hills. The beetroot and ginger sugar cured salmon and hot smoked ocean trout were incredible! What is your favourite way to use with Christmas leftovers?  Big breakfast/brunch fry ups!  For those hosting a big Christmas lunch, what advice do you have? Invite some of the Christmas Day guests around on the afternoon of Christmas Eve and knock over some of the preparation with a few glasses of bubbles. You can make sauces, stuffing, dressings, marinades and prepare the meat the day before. Are you a ham or turkey person? Neither! I dread both on Christmas Day! Ham is so mundane and has become something we put on the kids sandwiches – why feature it at Christmas? And turkey is bland and dry. I’d much rather eat something that is more of a treat– duck, quail….or Patagonian toothfish!  What are the three most important ingredients to a stress free Christmas?
  1. Preparation
  2. Delegation
  3. Realisation – that the fun and pleasure of the meal is more to do with the good humour of the host and guests than the actual food.
You can get Katrina’s tips in person at a Christmas Day Inspirations cooking class at the Golden Pig Food & Wine School on December 13 and 20, from 3-7pm.