HERE'S a culinary conundrum for cooks this Christmas: should you stick with tradition or try something new?

One the one hand, custom dictates that dinner should be turkey with all the trimmings. Christmas just wouldn't be the same without it. But on the other hand, these are exciting times in the kitchen. Once-staid Britons are becoming more and more adventurous in their eating habits. Could this be the year when we start to give turkey the bird? THERESA ROBSON and DANIELLE CONNELLY went in search of advice... and who better to ask than three celebrity chefs from East Lancashire?

CELEBRITY chef Paul Heathcote admits that he has become so sick of turkey and stuffing that he tucks into steak and chips on Christmas Day.

And he is not the only one to get bored with traditional festive fare -- fellow TV food experts Nigel Smith and Andrew Nutter have also tried to put a bit of added spice into the biggest meal of the year.

Paul, proprietor of the award-winning Heathcote's Restaurant in Longridge, said: "I always work on Christmas Day and by the time I've cooked over 100 dinners I've had enough.

"I always take my family out for supper on Christmas Eve, but the real treat comes on Christmas Day, when I cook steak and chips for my wife and kids."

Paul's first job was making sheds aged 14, but he now makes regular appearances on TV and is an independent restaurateur, with three outlets in the North West.

He said steak and chips with wife Gabbi, six-year-old Georgia and four-year-old Sam, was the highlight of festive feasting for his family.

Paul added: "I serve steak and chips with a good Pinot Noir and follow with the best Lancashire cheese, or a bit of Gorgonzola, then put my feet up and spend quality time with my wife and children. There's not a turkey drumstick in sight!"

Nigel Smith, chef patron at the Fielden's Arms, Mellor Brook, manages to combine his busy restaurant schedule with TV appearances on the Channel 5 show, Good Afternoon, hosted by Gloria Hunniford.

The 33-year-old, who lives in Lytham St Anne's, will be spending Christmas Day with wife Emma and daughter Eloise.

Nigel said: "This is my first Christmas Day off work for over 20 years and it will be great not having to get up early, don my whites and rush out of the house. I think I'll cook duck or goose for my wife and daughter, as I'll be decidedly fed up of turkey come the big day!"

Rossendale restaurateur Andrew, 31, started cooking aged 13 and worked for international chef Gary Rhodes, before opening his own restaurant, Nutters, near Edenfield. And the culinary whizzkid, who has appeared on the BBC's The Weakest Link with Queen of Mean Anne Robinson has this Yuletide twist on Brussels sprouts.

Andrew, who will be working at his Rossendale restaurant on Christmas Day, then spending the evening with family and friends, said: "Anyone tired of overcooked, brown sprouts, should try this dish. It's an ultra-quick, Christmas taste explosion!"


COOK the steak thoroughly on one side on a griddle pan, before flipping over for a few seconds, so that it is still nice and pink on the inside. Never put the oil in the pan, but brush it on the steak, instead. The steak will taste divine and cooking will be a lot less messy.

Make the chips with fresh Maris Piper potatoes and fry at 150 degrees, until they are soft, but not brown. Remove them from the oil and turn up the heat to 185 degrees, then cook until crispy - the perfect chip!


PEEL and cut the potatoes in half and place in cold water with a good handful of salt and bring to the boil. Cook for five minutes until slightly soft on the outside, then remove from the heat and drain well.

Place some duck fat or olive oil into a roasting tray on top of the stove. Place the potatoes into the tray and seal golden brown with a sprinkling of salt. Keep moving until evenly coloured. Ensure you shake the potatoes in the pan, so that they are light and fluffy, before placing in the hot fat.

Once sealed, place a piece of greaseproof paper into the bottom of the tray. Place the potatoes on top, sprinkle with thyme and roast for 40 minutes until crispy. Roast spuds par excellence!


TRIM 1lb of Brussels sprouts and shred into thin slices. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and add a peeled and chopped shallot, half a clove of chopped garlic, half a de-seeded and chopped red chilli pepper and small knob of chopped fresh root ginger.

Add the shredded sprouts and fry for 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Tip: The quicker you cool them, the greener they will be!

Bind the mixture with 1lb of cooked mashed potato and season to taste, then take a sheet of spring roll pastry and place a spoonful of the mixture on top. Roll into the shape of a mini-fritter and seal with egg. Repeat. When ready to serve, either deep fry in hot oil for three to four minutes, until golden brown, or oven bake at 180 degrees, until hot and crispy.