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The chef-recommended kitchen essentials for cooking the perfect Christmas dinner

Create a mouth-watering feast with roasting trays, chef’s knives, food processors and baking dishes

Louise Whitbread
Wednesday 23 December 2020 08:21
<p>Whether you’re dicing veg or cooking the turkey, ensure your utensils are up to scratch with our guide</p>

Whether you’re dicing veg or cooking the turkey, ensure your utensils are up to scratch with our guide

While Christmas will look very different this year, there’s one thing that will remain the same: Christmas dinner.

Turkey, nut roasts and all the trimmings, finished with desserts, chessboard and tins of Quality Streets, it is the best meal of the year, and after a particularly difficult 2020, it’s certainly something to look forward to.

However cooking up a feast is no mean feat, requiring hours of preparation and cooking time to get everything steaming hot and delicious. It’s also often when every appliance and utensil in your kitchen gets used, leaving a mountain of washing up to contend with.

With plenty of choice of tools to use, ensuring you have the right ones to perfect Christmas dinner is just as important as the food itself, so we’ve gone to experts for some guidance.

From MasterChef finalists, restaurant owners and experienced cooks, these are the chef-recommended tools for everything you need for your festive cooking.

You can trust our independent round-ups. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent.

Emma Spitzer: Chef, author and ‘MasterChef’ finalist

“When it comes to cooking for the big day, my Staub cookware ensures that my dishes stay piping hot and can be served straight from the oven to the table.  

This cast iron cookware will keep your food steaming hot

Staub’s large round cocotte (Amazon, £239) is ideal for making my braised red cabbage, and I use the paella pan (Borough Kitchen, £85) to cook up a large batch of my walnut, chestnut and butternut squash stuffing.  

Ben Tish: Culinary director at The Stafford Collection

“I use Samuel Groves roasting tins (Amazon, £22.99) that have nice sturdy handles,” he says, adding, that “they are robust, produce a nice even heat and solid caramelisation for food.”

For prepping vegetables, Tish also says he’ll be using his favourite Blenheim Forge knives to prep the vegetables.

For dicing vegetables and roasting potatoes, a sharp knife and oven tray are essential

This stainless clad slicer (Blenheim Forge Knives, £315) is designed for slicing and carving, vegetables, meat and fish, perfect for perfecting your roast potatoes, carrots, and parsnips. They have an oak and brass handle too, so would be a great gift to the foodie in your family.

“They really are the best and look beautiful on the knife rack.”

“The Thermapen digital thermometer (Thermapen, £64.60) is brilliant for getting your turkey right every time.” 

“These are a little more expensive but very accurate and are essential for all cooking. Look at the table for meat or fish you are cooking and when the probe reads that, take it out.”

He also recommends a Nutribullet nutritional blender (Argos, £149.99) for grinding down spices and coffee for a Christmas cake or pudding, “It will easily break down cinnamon and cloves to a super fine powder.”  

It was also highly rated in our guide to the best bullet blenders, where our reviewer explained how they enjoyed building and saving personalised recipes on the app, especially when it recommended the best pre-set blending function depending on what ingredients were being used.

Sergey Men: Chef patron of Bisushima

“For roasting meats, vegetables and potatoes I use a Tefal success professional aluminium baking dish (Amazon, £31.45).

“They have handles which means you can easily get it in and out of the oven without burning yourself.”

For carving the turkey, ensure you have the sharpest tools

“For carving your roast turkey or goose, I would recommend a Wusthof gourtmet 2-piece carving set (Season Cookshop, £54.95), it stays super sharp and gives you nice even slices on the meat.”

Massimo Mioli: Executive chef at Terra Terra

“As Christmas is a special time of the year that brings many family members together to celebrate, I like to create traditional dishes with my unique touch that was originally inspired by my grandmother. The recipes have been past down from each generation with us all adding our own twist.”

Blitz together smooth soups and sauces with this food processor

“During Christmas it is very popular to make a chicken liver pate starter which I always make by using a Robot Coupe food processor (Nisbets, £499.99), this dish is from the area where I grew up in Veneto, Tuscany.”

“After the starter has been eaten I will serve my famous chicken broth tortellini made with an Imperia pasta machine. Nothing else comes close to how smooth and silky it gets the pasta and rolls it out in next to no time.”

Romy Gill: Chef and The Independent’s recipe writer:

Gill shares that her go-to is a Staub roasting pan (Borough Kitchen, £59.75), which is made from cast iron, thus making it a durable tool for your cooking. 

“This pan is lighter than the Le Creuset, which I love as well. Yes, it is expensive but if you look after the pan than last you for a very time.”

While cast iron pans are by no means light, they can withstand high temperatures and will last years 

She adds, “I always buy my knives from Japanese Knife company. They have an amazing selection of knives and they sharpen your knives for you.”  

If you’re on peeling duties this year, this JKC AUS10 Paring 80mm (Japanese Knife Company, £69) will easily slice through potatoes, parsnips, carrots and make light work of one of the lesser fun parts of your Christmas meal.

Dean Edwards: Chef and author

“I would be lost without my Meater probe (Meater, £79) at Christmas, it’s an essential piece of kit that links to an app on my phone so will let me know when my turkey is ready and cooked to perfection. It even calculates resting time into the equation. Perfect for a technology geek like me.”

From cooking meat to perfection to ensuring it’s a tender as possible, a meat probe and slow cooker are Edwards must haves

My Sage fast slow pro slow cooker (Sage Appliances, £199.95) is invaluable at Christmas time, especially when I’m struggling for oven space, sometimes I even do an extra batch of roasted potatoes in there."

“Doubled with that it’s a great bit of kit to have lying around to keep that big batch of mulled cider simmering away at perfect drinking temperature.”

Zoe Simons: Senior development chef at Waitrose & Partners

“A good chef's knife is always worth the investment, if you sharpen it often and hand wash it it will serve you well. I like Japanese steel and forged knives like this kai Shun damascus steel chef's knife with rosewood handle (Borough Kitchen, £181).”

“The knife edge will stay sharper and glide through when you are slicing or chopping rather than steel that has been stamped cut. Perfect to have on hand at Christmas with your vegetable preparation and slicing the turkey on Christmas day.”

For browning meringue, a blow torch will come in handy

“Another must have in my kitchen is a blow torch, at christmas one of my favourite desserts to make is an artic roll, you can change the flavours so easily each year, one of my favorites is chocolate, cherry and pistachio.

“This is then finished with light meringue and just before serving I toast the meringue with this Kitchen Craft masterclass deluxe professional cook's blowtorch (Cook and Bakeware, £24.99). Not to mention very handy when you can't find the matches for the christmas pudding!”

James Cochran: Chef patron at 12:51

“I would recommend sieving your gravy with De Buyer stainless steel chinois (Sous Chef, £17), it means smooth and silky gravy that will elevate your Christmas dinner no end.

Don’t forget about the basics such as strong kitchen foil

“Once sieved, add a knob of butter for shiny glossy sauce, because Christmas is all about the extra indulgence!

"This is going to sound like a no brainer, but use strong tin foil (Nisbets, £5.62). It means your grease doesn’t run through to the tray, saving on the washing up, and actually helps cook things faster as a good conductor. Don’t scrimp!”

Tom Aikens: Head chef at Muse

“If you want a delicious light sponge for your yule log or Christmas trifle or for making your smooth mash potato or cookies for Santa Claus, then use a Kitchen Aid electric hand mixer (Argos, £109.99).

If you want to go all out and spoil yourself then look no further than a lovely Mauviel M'Cook roasting pan (Borough Kitchen, £165), that keeps the heat well and perfect for your whole turkey, roast potatoes and veggies.

For more kitchen essentials, read our guide to the best roasting tins for easy one-pot meals and the best soup makers for an easy and speedy meal

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