NEW Year’s Eve for many means it’s time to party. For us, that involves having friends and family over to share in a big feast.
If you’re staying in, it’s a great chance to prepare some home-made cocktails, party snacks or a full celebratory menu. For those venturing out, it can still be a lot of fun to have cocktails before you head out to set the night off on the right foot. The beauty of making home-made cocktails is you can also create non-alcoholic versions for any designated drivers, and they taste just as good.
Most readers will know how passionate I am about cooking, not just at the restaurant, but at home too. I never stop thinking about food or trying out new things and New Year is no different. If you’ve enjoyed a traditional Christmas dinner, then Hogmanay is the time to follow it with some food that’s really going to blow your guests away. You want the meal to be memorable. This is a time to say farewell to one year and welcome in the next and I always think it’s great to see off the past year with a bang and start a new one as you mean to go on – enjoying great food in great company.
My biggest piece of advice would be to find ingredients of the finest quality. You may have to spend a little more, but it will definitely be worth it and will help to create a memorable meal for everyone. Most people also have a little more time over the festive period, so it’s definitely worth taking care preparing the ingredients and trying to enjoy the build-up and the preparations that go into making a meal really special. The more effort you put in, the better the results and the tastier the dinner.
A nice juicy sirloin steak is a perfect way to see the year out with bang, and impress your guests at the same time. The sirloin is a prime cut ideal for celebrations. The meat can be sold either on the bone or off the bone as sirloin steaks. You might have also heard this cut called T-bone or entrecôte.
Head to your local butcher in plenty of time and look for sirloin that is a deep red colour with nice clean marbling. If it hasn’t been matured properly, this meat is going to be quite chewy, so the best quality you can find is absolutely essential. You can ask your butcher how long the meat has been hung for – between 21 and 35 days is usually a good indication that the meat should have developed in flavour and tenderness.
If you roast it to perfection, this cut of meat should just melt in the mouth and you should get a lovely, bold, juicy flavour. Use enough oil – or if you’ve saved some from making your Christmas roast potatoes, some duck fat – to make sure that the meat stays really moist and juicy. Roast sirloin doesn’t need long to prepare and it’s best to cook it quickly over a high heat to make sure you retain all the tenderness and juiciness of this prime cut.
You need a stand-out dessert to finish off your Hogmanay meal, and chocolate always proves a hit. These chocolate fondants are perfect. They look lovely and light on the outside and your guests will get a pleasant surprise when they cut in to find perfectly melting chocolate trickle out. Hopefully this is one of many ways you’ll be surprising and delighting your dinner guests over the year ahead.
Happy New Year!
1½kg piece of sirloin
vegetable oil or duck fat to cover the sirloin
cracked black pepper
Heat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 8. Put a large roasting tray into the oven to heat up. Meanwhile, cover the meat with oil or duck fat and season with salt and cracked black pepper, rubbing the seasoning into the meat. Place the roasting tray over a medium-high heat on the hob and place the sirloin in the tray, fat side down. Allow the meat to caramelise and crisp – you’ll notice a lot of the fat will come out of the sirloin. Turn the meat over and colour all over. This should take about five to six minutes. Transfer the roasting tray to the hot oven and roast, fat side up. You should allow 10-15 minutes per 450g for medium rare, 15-20 minutes for medium and 25-30 minutes for well-done meat. Make sure you turn the sirloin halfway through its cooking time for an even roast.
Once roasted, remove from the pan and rest on foil for about 20 minutes in a warm place. Keep the gravy juices from the pan aside for serving.
Accompany with home-made horseradish cream and potato gratin.
KOFFMANN’S POTATO GRATIN
8 large potatoes
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
1 garlic clove, halved
500ml whipping cream
Heat the oven to 140C/Gas Mark 1. Peel the potatoes and cut them into wafer-thin slices, using a very sharp knife, or better still, a mandoline if you have one. Place in a colander to drain. Sprinkle the potato slices lightly with salt and leave to sit in the colander for 10-12 minutes.
Meanwhile, slowly bring the cream to just below the boil in a deep pan over a low heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper and grate in a little nutmeg. Grease a large, shallow ovenproof dish with the butter and rub with the cut surface of the garlic clove. Squeeze the potato slices to remove excess liquid and layer them in the prepared dish. Slowly pour over the hot cream to just cover the potatoes. Bake in the oven for 50 minutes to 1 hour until golden on top and cooked through. Check the potatoes are cooked by inserting a small knife in the centre; it should pass through the layers easily. Serve hot
250ml whipping cream
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp freshly grated horseradish (I recommend you try to find some fresh horseradish from your local farmers’ market as it tastes so much better)
1 tsp crème fraîche
Whip the cream in a bowl until it holds firm peaks. Add the wine vinegar and whisk briefly to incorporate. Fold in the grated horseradish and crème fraîche and season with salt to taste.
Makes one cocktail
50ml Ketel One vodka
a piece of finely chopped ginger
25ml lemon juice
Shake all the ingredients together and double strain before serving.
40g plain flour
pinch of salt
190g 70% dark chocolate
4 egg yolks
3 whole eggs
90g caster sugar
4 metal moulds for cooking
40g butter for lining moulds
sugar for lining moulds
Sift together the flour and salt. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water. Whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugar until pale and fluffy. Fold in the melted chocolate. Then fold in the sifted flour. Use a pastry brush to butter four metal dessert moulds, brushing upwards to help the fondant to rise evenly. Coat this in cocoa, tipping out any excess. Fill each mould with the mixture until three-quarters full. Leave in the fridge to firm up for at least four hours, but if possible overnight. Pre-heat the oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4. Bake for eight minutes. Allow to rest for two minutes before turning out on to a plate. Serve with your choice of cream or ice cream.