Christmas Food Q&A: Mark McKenzie – Tron Bar & Kitchen
Executive chef Mark McKenzie explains why Japanese Wagyu black beef is on his Christmas wishlist
I'm planning a Christmas meal and want to offer a couple of unusual twists. What would you suggest?
For an unusual twist I’d recommend replacing your festive turkey with a chicken – they’re a great price this time of year and you can be guaranteed they’ll be really really succulent. Stuff the chicken with wild mushroom, pork and sage and wrap the whole thing in streaky smoked bacon – this will be absolutely delicious and is dead easy to do. Serve this with turnip and thyme fondant potatoes, artichoke puree and tarragon glazed baby beetroot. Not a meal people would expect, but one I guarantee they will absolutely love.
It's Boxing Day and I've got half a turkey uneaten. Any recommendations for some legendary leftovers?
I always make a turkey, mushroom and sweet sherry pie in the days that follow Christmas as it’s a great and simple way to use up leftovers from your Christmas meal. Once you’ve assembled the pie, all you need to do is pop it into the oven and you are ready to go, leaving lots more time for socialising and having fun with the people you care about.
Which dishes on your Christmas/December menu do you most like cooking? And which least?
I really love cooking the roast red pepper, butternut squash and chilli risotto from our festive menu because it looks so vibrant and colourful, only uses a few ingredients and is therefore simple to put together, but definitely delivers on flavour. It’s a dish that we find even meat lovers are happy to pick up a spoon and polish off. The dish I least like ‘cooking’ would probably be the cheese board, because there is so very little required. All of the work for it is done during prep before service starts so it’s just a case of assembly, which is easy for us but not very challenging.
What do you reckon is the most undervalued ingredient in the seasonal/Christmas repertoire?
Roe deer, in my opinion is really undervalued. You can produce some stunning winter comfort food dishes with it as well as some really fine dishes, and the season for does runs from October to March so it’s available all winter. Surprisingly it’s something that very rarely ever ends up on festive menus, which is such a shame.
I fancy making a food item for presents at Christmas. Any suggestions?
At the Tron we serve Scottish dishes with a contemporary twist, so for me it would have to to be something Scottish using local ingredients. I love giving people homemade tablet. It’s very easy to make a little gift just by cutting it into nice shapes and tying it up in a bag with some tartan ribbon. I use tablet in a few of the dishes in my dessert selection – people love our Scottish tablet ice cream which is very indulgent and so easy to produce, so giving people tablet as a gift helps them to re-create my dishes at home.
Which new kitchen gadget would you most like to find in your stocking? And which food item?
I would love to have the latest Rational Oven, which is a combi-oven that allow chefs the freedom to perform many styles of cooking, quickly and without the hassle of having to use a range of different cooking appliances. As for which food item, it would have to be Japanese Black Beef – Wagyu, which has an exceptional reputation for quality and flavour. I’d like to see how or if it compares to the amazing beef that we produce right here in Scotland.
Check out Tron Kitchen's festive menu.