Saturday 24 August 2019

Kevin Dundon's handy Christmas schedule will help you nail the Christmas dinner

Top chef Kevin Dundon from Dunbrody House Hotel has devised a stress-free festive schedule for the kitchen with all important timings, tips for the turkey and a thoroughly decadent Dundon dessert

Chef Kevin Dundon with his chocolate roulade log. Kevin's jumper and shirt by Paul Smith of Brown Thomas. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Chef Kevin Dundon with his chocolate roulade log. Kevin's jumper and shirt by Paul Smith of Brown Thomas. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Sweet and sour carrots
Smoked salmon gateau
Kevin Dundon's Christmas turkey
Kevin's ham with apple glaze
Roast potatoes
Sherry trifle

Chef Kevin Dundon speaks with the calm voice of a man who has cooked Christmas for more than 30 years - ever since he started catering college - and insists we should all relax and not panic over the turkey.

"Turkey is really just like a roast chicken dinner," he announces, quickly acknowledging that the biggest problem is often kitchen space, in particular, oven space. A lot of us only have one oven so with a number of dishes and keenly awaited sides, we are juggling frantically.

To combat oven gridlock, Kevin recommends you start the day before by boiling your ham. "After your turkey is cooked on Christmas Day, you have 45 minutes while the turkey rests after coming out of the oven to swing into action and get your dressed ham back into the oven along with the potatoes in goose or duck fat. I've supplied a recipe to dress the ham with apples (see recipe right), but you could also glaze it with mandarins cut in quarters. Add brown sugar on top and finish off with a jar of marmalade," Kevin says.

Christmas is not all about the oven, the fridge is also critical for the dinner. Kevin stresses the importance of getting all the protein into the fridge, so the turkey and ham need to be given priority. The vegetables can come out and be stored in the garden shed, in an airtight container. Stuffing should be stored in the fridge, once it's made.

He recommends an antipasto platter as a starter so guests can nibble while you tackle the turkey.

For dessert, he loves trifle, but not all his family like traditional Christmas pudding which is why he devised a savvy dessert (pictured right), which is essentially a chocolate Swiss roll with a filling of cream with a small shop-bought, or homemade, plum pudding crumbled into it. Enjoy this family feast and savour how special Christmas Day is.

Christmas Eve

5pm Peel your potatoes and prepare the vegetables, cover with water or a spotlessly-clean damp kitchen towel and store in a cool place.

Chef Kevin Dundon with his chocolate roulade log. Kevin's jumper and shirt by Paul Smith of Brown Thomas. Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Chef Kevin Dundon with his chocolate roulade log. Kevin's jumper and shirt by Paul Smith of Brown Thomas. Photo: Frank Mc Grath

6pm Place the ham in a large saucepan, cover with water and herbs if required. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium and cook for a further 20 minutes per pound, depending on the weight of the ham. Once cooked, remove from the cooking liquor, remove the outer rind leaving an even layer of fat. Score the fat in a criss-cross fashion, then stud with cloves. Once cooled, cover and place in the fridge for glazing and final baking on Christmas Day.

6.45pm Whilst the ham is cooking away, prepare your stuffing. Using slightly stale bread for the breadcrumbs, blitz in a food processor. I prefer to use fresh herbs, but dried are fine, then combine your stuffing ingredients and place in the fridge for use the next day. Catherine, my wife, always makes a sage and onion stuffing and I will do one with sausage meat and stuff the turkey neck.

7.30pm Prepare the gravy. Use the giblets to make a flavoursome stock for the gravy. You could also make your bread sauce, just to be warmed up the next day.

8pm Make your brandy butter if you are having plum pudding the next day and you can also take time now to prepare the trifle. If mulled wine is on the menu, you can make this now - the flavour improves overnight, and you can check your recipe by trying a glass or two and modifying if necessary. I like to prepare my table settings because it saves a lot of time the next day. Napkins, glasses, table decorations can all be ready, reducing the stress on the big day.

Christmas Day

with a view to sitting down...

8.30am Start the day by making your chocolate roulade dessert (see recipe below). After making the Swiss roll, turn the oven down to 180°C. Remove the turkey from the fridge.

8.45am Get your white wines, beers and champagnes into a cold spot outside in a bucket of ice if you have no space in the fridge.

9am Depending on the weight of the turkey, (this would be the time for a turkey weighing approximately 14lb), pop the turkey into the oven, allow 20 mins per lb. If you have stuffed the bird don't forget to include the stuffing weight. For a 14lb turkey it will take about 4.5 hrs. Also allow time for the turkey to rest once it has been removed from the oven.

1.30pm Remove the turkey from the oven, cover with foil and some clean kitchen towels. Pop the ham into the oven, it will take about 30-45 mins to glaze and bake, then remove from the oven. Put the potatoes on to parboil, then once the ham has been removed from the oven increase the heat and pop the roasties (see recipe below) in.

2.15pm Place the vegetables on to cook. Heat the gravy.

2.45pm Plate up your starters and let the culinary festivities begin.


Kevin's ham with apple glaze


Whole ham on the bone (approx 7½lb/3.5kg)

2 x 500ml Kings Bay Pale Ale or similar

1 onion

1 carrot

1 cooking apple, chopped

2 bay leaves

2 cloves garlic, chopped

40 cloves

High Bank orchard apple syrup


Place the ham in a large heavy-based saucepan, add the Kings Bay Pale Ale (brewed at Dunbrody), the onion, carrot, cooking apple, bay leaves and garlic. Add enough water to cover the ham completely.

Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and allow to simmer for about 2-3 hours.

Remove from the heat and allow the ham to cool in the cooking liquor overnight.

On Christmas Day: Remove the ham from the liquid and using a sharp knife, remove the rind leaving an even layer of fat. Score diamond shaped lines into the fat and stud the cloves into the layer of fat and put onto a baking tray. Preheat the oven to 150°F/300°C/Gas Mark 2.

Brush the apple syrup over the ham and roast in the oven for 30 minutes until caramelised. Rest the meat for an additional 30 minutes before slicing.


(pictured with Kevin in main photo)

Serves 6.

Preparation: 20 mins.

Cooking: 10 mins.


For the sponge

150g caster sugar

4 eggs

50g dark chocolate, good quality

1 tsp water, warm

100g self-rising flour

30g ground almonds

For the filling 250g mascarpone

125g cream, whipped

2 tbsp brandy

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g Christmas pudding, crumbled

For the chocolate sauce 200ml cream

60g dark chocolate

1 tsp water

Chocolate shavings to decorate


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6. Line the base 25 x 30cm baking tray or Swiss roll pan and sides with some parchment paper. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan half filled with water (ensuring the water does not touch the base of the bowl). Stir until smooth. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and creamy. Fold in the water, then the chocolate mixture. Sift the self-rising flour and ground almond into the eggs and fold until smooth. Pour the mixture into the lined baking tray and bake for 10 minutes. Place a layer of parchment paper larger than the baking tray onto a flat surface. Invert the cake onto the parchment paper and trim any crispy edges. Meanwhile, to prepare the filling, beat the mascarpone, cream and vanilla extract into a bowl and beat until smooth. Fold in the brandy and crumbled plum pudding. Spread the cream mixture on the sponge.

To make the sauce, pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil, remove from the heat and add the chocolate pieces, stir until smooth. Add a tablespoon of water and stir to combine. Starting with the long side closest to you, and using the paper to help, roll up the cake. Place on a serving platter and pour over the chocolate sauce, top with some chocolate shavings. Store in the fridge until required.



200g butter

1 large onion, finely chopped

400g fresh white breadcrumbs

1 lemon zest and juice

1 tbsp chopped sage

1 tbsp fresh thyme

4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Salt and pepper


Melt the butter in a large frying pan and add the onion. Sauté the onion for 3-4 minutes until softened and translucent but not coloured.

In the meantime, put the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, lemon juice and herbs into a large bowl ensuring the herbs are mixed through, and season to taste.

Pour the heated butter and onion over the breadcrumb and herb mixture, allow to cool before adding to the turkey.



225g sausage meat

150g fresh white breadcrumbs

1 tbsp fresh parsley

1 tbsp fresh thyme

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 onions, finely diced

6-8 kumquats, halved

50g cranberries (fresh or frozen)

2 cloves garlic, crushed


In a large bowl mix together the sausage meat, breadcrumbs and the chopped herbs. Season with freshly ground black pepper.

Add the finely diced onions, kumquats, cranberries and garlic, using your hands to combine all the ingredients together.

Place the stuffing in the cavity of the turkey and cook as per instructions, or alternatively, place in a baking tin and cover in foil, cook for 25-30 minutes.


iw smoked salm.jpg
Smoked salmon gateau


110g/4oz plain flour

1 small egg

About 150ml/¼ pint milk

Sunflower oil, for frying

225g/8oz smoked salmon slices

225g/8oz cream cheese

1 tbsp snipped fresh chives

Juice of ½ lemon

25g/1oz baby salad leaves

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, to serve

2-3 tbsp mustard dressing


To make the pancakes, sift the flour into a bowl with a pinch of salt, then make a well in the centre. Break the egg into the well and add a little of the milk. Mix the liquid ingredients together, then gradually beat in the flour until smooth. Beat in enough of the remaining milk until you have achieved the consistency of thin cream. Cover with clingfilm and leave to stand in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan. When hot, brush with the minimum of oil. Pour a small amount of the batter, about a quarter of the mix is right. Swirl it around until it is evenly and thinly spread over the bottom. Cook over a moderate to high heat for about 1 minute or until the edges are curling and the underside is golden. Flip over and cook the second side for 30 seconds or so until golden.

Turn the pancake on to a plate and repeat until you have four pancakes in total, lightly oiling the pan between pancakes. Leave to cool, then using a 5cm/2in cutter, that is 5cm/2in deep, stamp out three circles from each pancake.

Using the same cutter, stamp out eight circles from the smoked salmon, then cut the remainder into strips and reserve. Whip the cream cheese in a bowl with the chives and lemon juice. Season to taste.

To serve, line the cutter with clingfilm and set on a serving plate. Put a pancake round in the bottom of the cutter and add a spoonful of the chive cream cheese. Cover with a layer of the smoked salmon and then add another spoonful of the chive cream cheese. Repeat these layers and finish with a pancake round. Carefully remove the cutter and repeat until you have four in total. Place the salad leaves in a bowl, season and add enough of the dressing to lightly coat the leaves. Add a pile to each plate with the reserved smoked salmon strips. Drizzle around the remaining dressing and garnish with the lemon wedges.


iw Turkey.jpg
Kevin Dundon's Christmas turkey

There is something wonderfully satisfying about putting a beautiful turkey sitting in the middle of the table on Christmas Day and serving your salivating family. If cooked properly, the turkey can be a deliciously moist bird which can be enjoyed by all the family. Plan every aspect of your Christmas cookery carefully and meticulously and then you can relax a little more on the actual day.


250g butter

3 tbsp sage

1 medium-sized onion

1 lemon, peel cut into strips

Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas Mark 6.

On Christmas morning, prepare to stuff your turkey with your prepared stuffings (see recipes above).

Soften the butter in a bowl, add the lemon peel, sage and mix. Rub some butter underneath the turkey breast skin by lifting the skin gently with your hands and massaging the butter onto the flesh. Place the sausage meat stuffing in the neck cavity and then line the cavity with some tin foil or parchment paper and loosely pack the sage stuffing into the bird.

Put the turkey onto a large roasting tray and cover with some tin foil.

Place the turkey into the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.

Allocate 20 minutes per pound and then an additional 20-30 minutes in the oven.

Remove the foil from the turkey for the last 20 minutes of cooking and increase oven temperature to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

When a skewer is inserted into the meat nearest the bone (ie the leg), the juices should run completely clear.

Allow the meat to rest when it comes out of the oven and carve as required.


Sweet and sour carrots

Serves 4-6


500g carrots, preferably baby carrots

50g butter

50g sugar

100ml white wine vinegar

Sprig rosemary

50ml water

Salt and pepper to season


Take your prepared carrots and place in a small sauté pan. Add the butter, sugar, white wine vinegar and rosemary and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes. Pour in the water and cook the carrots until tender. Season with salt and pepper.


Sherry trifle

Sherry trifle is one of those desserts that has been around for ever and will never fade away. Everybody has their own take on it but what so few recognise is that the classic sherry trifle does not contain jelly. Revolutionary!

Here is my twist on the classic dessert. After all the hard work that Christmas contains for us in the restaurant and as a family unit, Catherine and I love to relax on Christmas night after the children are gone to bed and indulge in a glass of mulled wine and a heaped bowl of sherry trifle with freshly whipped cream. Heaven.

Serves 6-8


For the Swiss roll

4 eggs

100g sugar

100g self-raising flour

50g caster sugar (for dusting)

4 dessert spoons fresh raspberry jam

For the fresh egg custard

1 vanilla pod, seeds of

450ml milk

150ml cream

6 egg yolks

75g sugar

1 tbsp corn flour

For the garnish

225g fresh berries (raspberries, strawberries, blackcurrants etc)

100ml good quality sherry

240ml cream, freshly whipped

50g flaked almonds, toasted


To make the jam Swiss roll:

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease and line an oblong (13 x 9inch) tin with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until light and aerated. The whisk should leave a figure of eight pronounced on the surface of the mixture when the whisk is lifted out of it.

Gently fold in the sifted flour into the egg mixture, then pour the mixture into a prepared Swiss roll tin. Bake for 20 minutes until risen and lightly golden, then remove the sponge from the oven.

Before the sponge is fully cooled, invert onto a sheet of parchment paper or clean tea towel lightly dusted with caster sugar (50g) and spread with a thin layer of raspberry jam.

Carefully roll the Swiss roll up from the longest side rather than from the shortest.

To make the custard:

Split the vanilla pod lengthways and remove the seeds to add to the milk and cream, bring to the boil.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat the egg yolks, sugar and corn flour together until light and creamy. Pour the boiled milk and cream mixture onto the eggs and mix well.

Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over a low heat, until the mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. Do not allow the mixture to boil at this time. Remove the pan from the heat and transfer the custard into a bowl to cool.

To build your trifle:

Slice the Swiss roll in 1.5cm slices, then arrange the slices to line a large bowl. Retain a little of the sponge for the middle layer.

Add some fresh berries, another layer of Swiss roll, and a drizzle of sherry. Do a few layers of the sponge if you wish.

Pour the custard over the sponge mixture and allow to cool for a couple of hours or overnight.

Cover with a disc of parchment paper or clingfilm to prevent the formation of a crust,

Pipe some whipped cream on the top and sprinkle, if desired, with some flaked and toasted almonds. Alternatively, arrange with a little more fresh fruit.


Roast potatoes

This is a lovely twist to traditional roast potatoes.

Serves 4-6


1kg rooster potatoes

2 tbsp duck fat

Salt and pepper

100g mature cheddar cheese (eg Hegartys or similar), grated


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Take your peeled potatoes which were cut into large chunks and left overnight. Place in a pan of lightly salted cold water and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and return to the pan, shake vigorously to roughen up the edges.

Spoon the duck fat onto a baking tray and transfer to the preheated oven for 4-5 minutes. Once the fat has melted remove the tray from the oven and add the potato pieces to the tray. Season with some salt and pepper, and sprinkle with the grated cheese, return to the oven. Roast for 25 minutes until the potatoes are nice and crispy on the outside yet soft in the centre.

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