Catherine Fulvio's tasty twists on festive favourites
The renowned chef's Christmas dinner for the modern family
December is by far our busiest time here in Wicklow. Between classes and workshops, there's no time to stop. So for me, planning is key so that I can relax with family on the day itself. I intend to have everything prepped on Christmas Eve so I'll barely be lifting a finger the following day - although maybe I'm being a bit too optimistic!
Cranberry, Sage and Thyme-Glazed Turkey
The star of the show, the majestic turkey, always has to be the talking point. Here I've made a delicious cranberry and maple glaze which brings a delicious flavour and a great colour to the main attraction - second to Santa Claus of course.
1 x 5kg oven-ready turkey, giblets and neck removed
Melted butter, for brushing
1 onion, cut in halves
3 bay leaves
10 small sprigs of thyme
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Thyme sprigs, to garnish
Sprigs of sage, to garnish
For the glaze
250ml cranberry juice
50ml maple syrup
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
3 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp finely chopped thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/fan 180˚C/Gas 6.
To make the glaze, add all the ingredients into a jug, stir well and set aside.
Weigh the turkey to calculate the roasting time - generally this is 25-30 minutes per kg plus an extra 30 minutes, followed by 30 minutes out of the oven for "resting".
Add a little oil into the foil tray in a roasting tray, place the turkey in the foil tray, breast side up and brush melted butter over the bird.
Pour about 4 tbsp of the glaze and place 2 onion halves and 3 bay leaves into the cavity.
Spoon half of the glaze over the turkey, season, sprinkle over the sprigs of thyme and place in the oven. Keep basting every 20 minutes. If the turkey is browning too fast, cover with a piece of foil or some streaky bacon. To serve the turkey, once rested, carefully unwrap and place the turkey on a large warm platter and pile the stuffing muffins (see right) on the sides. Garnish with thyme and sage. Serve with roasted potatoes and cranberry sauce.
Pancetta and cranberry stuffing muffins
These look great - if time isn't on your side, of course it's no problem to make a large stuffing log, wrap it in parchment paper and cover in foil. Pop it in the oven to heat through fully before serving.
Muffin tin and parchment
100g diced pancetta
1 onion, very finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
125g brown breadcrumbs
60g dried cranberries, soaked in 3 tbsp whiskey
1 tsp chopped sage
2 tsp chopped thyme, plus sprigs to garnish
1 tbsp chopped parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 beaten egg
60ml vegetable stock (you may need a little more)
To prepare the stuffing muffins, cut 12 squares of parchment to fit the muffin tin and place one into each hole.
Heat a little oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the pancetta and fry until crispy. Use a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta, drain on kitchen paper and set aside.
Spoon off a little oil, add the onion, celery to the frying pan and sauté until softened but not brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, stir in the breadcrumbs, soaked cranberries, sage, thyme, parsley, salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the egg, mix well and add sufficient stock for the mixture to come together. Spoon the mixture into each muffin case and bake for about 20 minutes until set. Transfer to a warm serving dish to keep warm. Place a sprig of thyme into each stuffing muffin.
Roasted Butternut Squash, Lentil & Cranberry Christmas Wellington
Whether you're a vegetarian or not, this is a very tasty and, yes, almost meaty dish, and one that's packed with goodness. If you prefer, you can change the filling to more Mediterranean flavours such as peppers, courgettes, aubergines, mushrooms, shallots, lemon zest and oregano, and dot with vegetarian cheese.
For the pastry 2 x 320g ready-rolled puff pastry
Plain flour, for dusting
Egg wash, 1 egg beaten with 2 tbsp water
Sesame seeds, to decorate
For the filling
2 medium leeks, finely sliced
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced small
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tsp chopped thyme
½ tsp paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
30g baby spinach (or a generous handful)
100g cooked puy lentils
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
4 tbsp dried cranberries, soaked in 4 tbsp warm water
Preheat the oven to 200˚C/fan 180˚C/gas 6. Line 2 large baking trays with baking parchment. Place the leeks, butternut squash and garlic on one of the baking trays. Sprinkle over the chopped thyme, paprika and some oil and roast for about 30 minutes, tossing from time to time and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Leave to cool.
Meantime, heat a large frying pan with a little oil over a medium heat. Add the mushrooms and stir in the mustard. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and cook for about 2 minutes. Strain any excess juice off and set mushrooms aside.
Roll the pastry out and place on the parchment-lined tray. Combine the butternut squash and leek mix with the mushrooms and add the spinach, cooked lentils and parsley to the butternut squash mix. Drain the cranberries, stir them into the mix and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Brush the edge of the pastry with the egg wash. Spoon the mix into the centre of the pastry on the tray and cover with the other sheet of pastry. Using your fingers or a crimper, crimp the edges neatly all the way around.
Brush the pastry with the egg wash, sprinkle over the sesame seeds and bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until the pastry is lightly golden and puffed.
Allow to cool slightly before cutting and serve with cranberry sauce.
Lightly Stir-Fried Tender Stem Broccoli, Shallots & Cashews
If you fancy a change from the sprouts this year, this is a light and fresh alternative. The Asian-fusion flavours bring a welcome twist to the traditional festive meal.
6 shallots, peeled and sliced
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp oyster sauce
400g tender stem broccoli, trimmed
4 tbsp water
3 tbsp toasted cashews
Heat a large wok over a medium to high heat, add a little oil, then add the shallots and spring onions and stir fry lightly for one minute. Add the soy and oyster sauce and stir fry for 1-2 minutes, until just tender.
Add the broccoli and water, then cover and steam lightly for about 4 minutes, until the broccoli is just cooked through.
Using tongs, arrange the broccoli onto a warm serving platter and spoon over the rest of the vegetables.
Sprinkle over the cashews and serve immediately.
TIP: Try this recipe with green beans or shredded Brussels sprouts either.
Fruity Plum Christmas Tart with Irish Cream
By adding the plums to the fruit mix, it makes this tart a little lighter than the traditional mince tart, and not only is it very moreish but it looks pretty good too!
makes a rectangle 20cm x 30cm
For the fruit mince:
4 plums, pitted and finely diced
80g soft dark brown sugar
3 tbsp. candied mixed fruit peel
1 tsp cinnamon
3 tbsp port
4 tbsp water
For the pastry:
380g plain flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
220g chilled unsalted butter, diced
2 egg yolks, beaten (you may not use all)
Egg wash, to glaze
Icing sugar, to dust
Irish cream, to serve (see tip below)
To make the fruit filling, combine all the ingredients in a medium size saucepan and heat over a low heat. Simmer for 15 -20 minutes. Set aside to cool completely before using.
To make the pastry, place the sifted flour and salt into a large bowl. Add the diced butter and rub in until the mixture to resemble breadcrumbs.
Mix in some of the egg yolk to form a medium soft pastry - it should not be too soft or damp.
Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190°C/fan 170°C/gas 5. Line a baking tray with parchment. Cut the pastry into quarters. QUERYING THIS Dust a clean work surface with flour and roll the large portion out thinly into a rectangle shape about 20cm x 30cm. Transfer the pastry onto the parchment lined tray.
Crimp the edge of the pastry with a crimper or your fingers. Spread the fruit mince filling neat onto the pastry leaving a 1cm edge all the way around. Brush the edge with egg wash.
Roll out the smaller portion of pastry and cut out small stars.
Place the stars randomly on the fruit mince and brush with egg wash.
Bake in the preheated oven for about 18 to 20 minutes until light golden brown. Remove from the oven and cool before transferring to a cooling rack. When ready to serve dust with icing sugar and serve with Irish cream.
TIP: To make Irish cream, pour 250ml of cream into a mixing bowl, add 4 tbsp sifted icing sugar and 3 tbsp Baileys, whisk until thick and spoon into a small bowl to serve.