Tuesday 16 January 2018

All the trimmings for Christmas dinners

From cranberry and bread sauce to brandy butter and roast potatoes, it's the trimmings that accompany the traditional Christmas dinner that people really love. Be warned, though -- there's never enough gravy!

Kevin Dundon's Turkey Gravy

Everyone has their own recipe for turkey gravy. This is one of my favourites, which can be prepared in advance and then reheated later.

Makes about 400-500ml


Turkey giblets

2 carrots, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

Salt and black pepper

700ml turkey or chicken stock

2 bay leaves

4 tbsp plain (all-purpose) flour

150ml red wine

50g butter, cubed


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.

Place the turkey giblets, carrots and onion in

a roasting pan and drizzle with the olive oil.

Season with salt and black pepper.

Roast for 45-60 minutes until the giblets are cooked through.

Drain off any excess fat, if there is any, and set the pan aside. Pour the turkey stock into a saucepan, add the bay leaves and bring to the boil.

Place the pan of giblets on the hob or stove. Sprinkle in the flour and brown it over a moderate heat.

Pour in the wine to deglaze the pan, scraping up the bits from the base of the pan, and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the stock and stir well. Pass the gravy through a sieve or strainer into a fresh saucepan.

Bring the liquid to the boil and cook until the gravy has reduced by half. Stir the butter cubes into the gravy -- these will give it extra flavour and an attractive gloss.

Serve immediately.

From Kevin Dundon's 'Modern Irish Food', published by Mitchell Beazley

Rory O'Connell's roasties

Rory O'Connell's roast potatoes are cooked to achieve a golden brown crisp skin with a fluffy, floury interior.

Rory's key tips:

* Peel the potatoes as close as possible to the time of cooking.

* Use best-quality vegetable or animal fat.

* Buy a floury variety of unwashed potatoes such as Golden Wonder or Kerr's Pink for best roast potatoes. Sante are another excellent choice for roasting.

* Vegetable fat as in olive oil, or animal fat as in duck, goose, pork or beef, will give the potatoes a delicious flavour and crisp skin.

*  Do not sprinkle on the sea salt until the potatoes are cooked -- if you add it any earlier it may cause the skins to stick to the tray.

Serves four


8-10 potatoes, depending on how much you like your potatoes

2-3 tbsps of olive oil, duck or goose fat, pork fat or beef dripping

Maldon sea salt


Preheat the oven to 230°C/450F/gas 8.

Peel the potatoes and, if they are unevenly sized, cut the larger ones in half to have them all approximately the same.

Place them in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for just 1 minute, then drain -- if you leave them sitting in a colander they will dry off, but you need to make sure they are quite dry, so if necessary rub them lightly with a tea towel.

Score the surface of each potato several times with a fork. This scoring encourages the skin to crisp. Put them into a bowl and toss in the fat of your choice.

Transfer them to a heavy roasting tray in a single layer and cook in the oven for about an hour, until the potatoes are well coloured and crisp on the outside and tender in the middle. Season with sea salt and serve as soon as possible.

From Rory O'Connell's book 'Master it, How to Cook Today', published by Fourth Estate

Annie Bell's simple Cranberry Sauce

Turkey is unimaginable without this sweet and sour condiment (pictured on opposite page). Just one tip -- cooking the cranberries before adding the sugar avoids tough skins. That aside, I don't think it's improved by the addition of spices or more alcohol -- keep it simple.

Serves six


450g cranberries

Juice of 2 oranges

125g caster sugar


Place the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan, bring to the boil, cover and simmer over a low heat for 5 minutes.

Stir in the sugar, turn the heat up to medium and simmer uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, until the juices are reduced and syrupy.Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to cool.

This sauce can be prepared several days in advance, in which case chill and bring it back up to room temperature just before serving.

From 'Gorgeous Christmas' by Annie Bell, published by Kyle Books.

Annie Bell's bread sauce

That sweet savour of onion and the hint of bay and cloves are what a bread sauce is all about, hence this version, which is a departure from the norm.

Basically you make a creamy onion purée and combine it with a bread sauce base.

It has the advantage that you can make it an hour or two ahead and then very gently rewarm it.

I can't be alone in having a penchant for cold turkey and bread sauce sandwiches, so this is another one to cook plenty of, bearing in mind the days to come.

Serves six


30g unsalted butter

1 large onion (ideally white), peeled, halved and sliced

¾ tsp sea salt

100ml double cream

1 bay leaf

5 cloves

75g fresh white breadcrumbs

300ml full-cream milk

Freshly grated nutmeg


Melt the butter in a small non-stick saucepan over a medium heat.

Add the onion, sprinkle over the salt and cook gently for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently, until soft and silky but not coloured. Add the cream, bay leaf and cloves, cover, and cook over the lowest heat for about 5 minutes, stirring at least once.

Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and cloves and whiz to a smooth purée in a food processor.

Combine the breadcrumbs and milk in the same non-stick saucepan, and bring to the boil, stirring until smooth.

Simmer for 7-10 minutes over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick sauce.

Add the onion purée and heat through, and season with freshly grated nutmeg and a little more salt if needed.

Unlike a normal bread sauce, this can be made in advance, anything up to a couple of hours.

Cover the surface with clingfilm and leave in the pan on the hob. Gently reheat to serve.

To make breadcrumbs

Remove the crusts from some day-old coarse-textured white bread, break it up into chunks and whiz in a food processor until reduced to fine crumbs.

You can use fresh bread, provided it is a good-quality pain de campagne or other such rustic bread with a dry crust.Annie Bell's delicious Sauternes Gravy

A rich, creamy gravy that makes a luxurious touch with Christmas dinner. The sweet wine can be varied. Skim off a little of whatever you have bought in to drink.

Serves six


½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

100ml Sauternes

1 tbsp plain flour

300ml giblet or chicken stock

100ml double cream

Sea salt and black pepper


Skim off excess fat from the roasting tray, leaving just 1 or 2 tablespoons.

Place the roasting tray on a lowish heat, stir in the mustard, then the Sauternes, and cook for several minutes until reduced by half, scraping up all the sticky roasting juices in the bottom of the tray.

Stir in the flour and once this is seething, gradually stir in the stock and the cream. Simmer the gravy until you have a smooth sauce, and season to taste -- the Sauternes welcomes a generous pinch or two of salt.

Add any juices given out on carving the turkey and strain into a sauceboat or a jug to serve.

Cornucopia A chef James de Burca's Vegan Mushroom and Red Wine Gravy:


45ml cold pressed rapeseed oil

2 medium onions, diced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed

125ml red wine

500ml mushroom stock

2 tablespoons potato flour


Pour the rapeseed oil in a small saucepan and place over a medium heat and sauté the onion for 10 or so minutes until softened, then add the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes. Raise the heat and add the red wine and continue to simmer until a little reduced. Pour the potato flour into the mushroom stock and whisk to dissolve. After about 5 minutes the wine will have reduced so now add the mushroom stock and simmer for about another 15 minutes until it has thickened slightly.

Remove from the heat and use a stick blender to puree the gravy to a smooth and glossy consistency. Set aside until needed.

Brandy Butter by Kevin Byrne of the Mayfield Eatery

This is a perfect accompaniment for your Christmas pudding, warm mince pies or even a fruit strudel.

It holds in the fridge for two weeks, but can also be frozen.


125g unsalted butter

125g soft light brown sugar

5 tbsps brandy

2 tsps grated orange zest

1 tsp ground cinnamon


Take butter out of fridge an hour beforehand to soften, then beat butter and sugar in electric mixer until light and fluffy. Slowly add the brandy, one tablespoon at a time, then add the orange and cinnamon and mix for a further 5 seconds.

Transfer butter mixture to a covered container and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Serve the 'hard sauce' with warm pudding or mince pies.

TIP: If light brown sugar is unavailable you can use muscovado or Demerara sugar instead.

Neven Maguire's Crème Anglaise to serve with your Plum Pudding.

This recipe is from Neven's book, 'The Nation's Favourite Food', published by Gill & Macmillan.

Makes about 400ml


5 egg yolks

3 tbsp caster sugar

½ vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out

300ml milk

100ml cream


Place the egg yolks in a large bowl with the sugar and vanilla seeds. Whisk with an electric mixer for a few minutes, until pale and thickened.

Place the milk and cream in a medium pan and bring to the boil, then immediately remove from the heat.

Gradually whisk the heated milk and cream into the egg yolk mixture until smooth, then pour back into the pan and place over a gentle heat.

Cook gently for 6-8 minutes on a medium heat, stirring constantly, until the custard coats the back of a wooden spoon. Serve hot or transfer to a large bowl.

Press a sheet of clingfilm directly on to the surface of the custard to help prevent a skin forming and leave to cool, then chill until needed.

It can also be put into a squeezy bottle, depending on how you want to use it. Use warm or cold, as required. This will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days.


Brandy and Rum Crème Anglaise

Add 2 tablespoons of brandy and 2 tablespoons of dark rum to the crème anglaise before it gets cooked to thicken.

Irish Independent

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