Millstone at Mellor Anson Bolton’s five top tips for Christmas dinner

PUBLISHED: 00:00 05 December 2013

Anson Bolton

Anson Bolton


Philippa James calls in at the Millstone to pick up some festive tips

It’s that time of the year when we often look for something a bit different to serve at Christmas and, to get some festive inspiration, I dropped into The Millstone at Mellor.

This is a recent winner in the Lancashire Life Food & Drink Awards and it’s not hard to see why chef patron Anson Bolton and his team impressed the judges.

The welcome is always warm and friendly, and the food and drink are always spot on – so good it has two AA rosettes.

During the past ten years Anson believes food fashions have come full circle. He is proud to have been classically trained but asks: ‘What’s wrong with a proper steak and kidney suet pudding, fish and chips or a meltingly good lamb shank?’ This said, Anson admitted he’s always pushing to keep things fresh and new.

Anson says his butcher, Penny’s of Accrington, is as important as any member of staff and that relationship has led to the Millstone serving a flat-iron steak, which they only cook to medium rare. Cooking it well done would make it tough.

The family feel about the Millstone is under-pinned by the staff being from the surrounding area, and all the chefs come via Blackburn College. The two ladies on the next table to me who are involved with the pre-school group said most of the staff had been to the village nursery as toddlers.

Anson mentioned keeping a finger on the competitor’s pulse and of visiting a hostelry where his request for a glass of sauvignon blanc was met with the question: ‘Do you want red or white?’

Anson says he feels a change in the economy. ‘it’s been a long time coming, but there’s a feel good factor coming back,’ he adds. ‘We’ve been lucky, we pitch our pricing and menus carefully to suit the market.’ Everyone in the business will hope he’s right.

Anson Bolton’s five top tips for Christmas

1. Fry off some pancetta, or bacon lardons, with some crushed chestnuts, add a knob of butter, leave to cool, then refrigerate. On the day boil the sprouts, drain, then add the prepared butter, and serve.

2. Gluten-free stuffing – fry half a chopped onion until translucent, add a little chopped fresh, or dried, sage and stir in some juices from the roast turkey, or add a little bit of chicken stock. Bring to the boil, then add a few handfuls of crushed cornflakes to thicken the mix. This can be made a couple of days ahead, and can be re-heated in the oven, or microwave.

3. Crispy roasties! Anson says: ‘It’s not rocket science!’ Boil your potatoes, he recommends Maris Piper, until 85% cooked, for about 12minutes, drain and toss in a colander to break the surfaces down, add salt and place in a tray of pre-heated goose fat, fresh thyme, rosemary and whole cloves of garlic, roast, in a hot oven, 220c/gas mark 7, for about 20mins, basting and turning, until golden.

4. The whole cloves of garlic are a great garnish for soup, just squidge out of their skins and crush with crème fraiche and chopped chives, and use to accompany the smoked haddock mousse.

5. Spiced Parsnip Puree, as Anson says: ‘A cheeky little alternative to honey roast parsnips’. Boil/steam your parsnips, pop into a food processor with a touch of curry powder, salt and pepper, and a little butter, or double cream.

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