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Talking food with Michelin starred chef Josh Eggleton

Josh Eggleton

After a fantastic year for food in the South West, local boy and Michelin-starred chef Josh Eggleton talks about the year in food with Luxury Lifestyle magazine.

For years the South West has been a hidden gem in the UK food scene, with so much of our produce coming from these counties it’s not surprising that so many fine restaurants have chosen Bristol, Wiltshire, Cornwall and Devon as their home. Seasonal produce has always been at the heart of that we do at The Pony and Trap, as well as a focus on working with local artisans to source ingredients and create dishes around them. Casamia, Wilkes, Bakers & Co, Poco and Wallfish Bistro have reached national acclaim this year and that is just in Bristol, right now is the time to take a visit.

Some stand out producers for the winter months and who you will find on our table at Christmas include Chew Valley Smokehouse, producing smoked salmon which is both powerful and delicate in flavour, perfect for a Boxing Day breakfast. We source our beef and meat from local organic farms through Blagdon Butchers, who focus on quality and animal welfare so our sausage rolls for Christmas morning will be made with pork sourced from there.

Christmas is one time when anyone has the excuse to pop into the local butcher and chat about the cuts of meat and what is best for their dishes, so it’ll be great to see some people making a habit of it in the New Year. If you’re really serious about this, start building a relationship with your butcher well in advance to make sure they give you the best stuff. You’re looking for beef that is sourced well, aged and conditioned properly, dry aged 28 days minimum to reinforce the flavour and ensure tenderness. Ask them about the breed and where it came from so you know what you’re eating.

Josh is Chef Patron of multi-award winning pub the Pony & Trap in Chew Magna. Image credit  Jon Craig
Josh is Chef Patron of multi-award winning pub the Pony & Trap in Chew Magna. Image credit Jon Craig

We close on Christmas Day as we feel it’s an important day to spend with the family. Generally I cook and we have beef and everyone is welcome, because I like it and also turkey because my Mum likes it. I like a four rib of beef as it has great flavour, but if you don’t like to deal with the bone and want something easy to carve then you can’t beat a top rump. I recommend slow roasting it first and then whacking up the heat to caramelise it, so in effect you’re doing it in the reverse of what you usually do. This is the best method for a great result. The most important thing about cooking beef is that you have to rest it for as long as you cook it. Don’t worry about it getting cold and don’t put it back in the oven to reheat it. Slice it and make sure the gravy is piping hot to pour over it and warm it back up.

There are so many things you can do with vegetables at Christmas – a great way to get everyone eating sprouts is frying them and adding crispy bacon.

Throughout the winter, veg boxes are also a great way for people to stay seasonal with what they are cooking. If you’re put off by the chance of getting a turnip in winter, then take a look at some of the recipes on the Great British Chefs website, there is loads of inspiration on there for British vegetables, including turnips, which by the way are a very under-rated vegetable. If you have loads of leftovers on Boxing Day this recipe will be perfect.

Bubble and squeak
400g of potato, cooked
1 parsnip, cooked
1 carrot, cooked
1 swede, cooked
1 savoy cabbage, roughly shredded and cooked
1 leek, roughly choped and cooked
2 shallots, sliced
60g of cheddar, grated
30g of butter

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the shallots and sweat until soft, then add the rest of the cooked leftover vegetables. Heat through and stir to form a rustic mash.

Increase the heat and continue to cook, stirring occasionally to brown the mixture. Remove from the heat and season to taste. Top with the cheese and finish off in an oven set t 180°C/gas mark 4 until golden brown.

Serve with leftover meats from Christmas Day, using 2 forks to roughly shred the meat.