The season to be jolly is nearly upon us and there is nothing like eating, drinking and being merry to help get in the festive mood. But preparing the family feast can be stressful so whether you've decided to stick with traditional turkey or would like to wow your guests with something completely different, we've asked some of Ireland's top chefs to help make your Christmas easier with a selection of delicious recipes to choose from.
Kevin Dundon, of Dunbrody House, opts for tradition with a smoked salmon starter and a perfect turkey roast.
SMOKED SALMON PLATTER
>16 slices smoked salmon
>Lettuce leaves (optional)
Wasabi crème fraîche
>1 tub crème fraîche
>Dessert tsp chopped parsley
>1/2 lemon (juiced)
>1/2 tsp of wasabi
>Cracked black pepper
Bloody tomato sorbet
>150ml/5fl oz tomato juice
>20g caster sugar
>Vodka, double shot
>1/2 lemon, juice only
>6 dashes Worcestershire sauce
>3 dashes Tabasco sauce
>Pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
>First, place the sorbet ingredients, except the seasoning and Tabasco, in a liquidiser and blend until smooth. Adjust the seasoning to taste with the Tabasco, salt and pepper.
>Churn in an ice-cream maker, and store.
>Before serving, mix the crème fraîche, parsley, lemon juice, wasabi and seasoning together in a bowl.
>Dress the smoked salmon on a serving dish with the lettuce. Serve the crème fraaîche quenelles (using two spoons to create an oblong scoop of creme fraiche) and a shot of Bloody Mary sorbet.
TRADITIONAL ROAST TURKEY
>1 medium sized onion
>3 cloves of diced garlic
>3oz/75g fresh cranberries
>225g/8oz sausage meat
>4 tbsp chopped herbs (parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary)
>Zest and juice of one orange
>450g/1lb white breadcrumbs
>Salt and pepper
>7-8 streaky rashers
>Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.
>Melt the butter over a very gentle heat.
>Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the butter and cook until very gently softened but not coloured.
>Add the cranberries and allow them to sweat off gently.
>Take off the heat, allow to cool slightly and then add the sausage meat, freshly chopped herbs, orange juice and zest and the breadcrumbs. The mixture should not be too dry.
>Season the stuffing and allow it to cool.
>The stuffing can be made a couple of days in advance if you wish and even frozen if needs be.
>On Christmas morning, stuff the turkey. Line the cavity with some tin foil and loosely pack the stuffing into the bird. To get the correct time it is vitally important to weigh the turkey again with the stuffing enclosed.
>Put the turkey onto a large roasting tray and lay the streaky rashers of bacon across the breast to protect the meat and prevent it from drying out. These can be taken off at a later stage if you wish to colour up the breasts and get a nice crunchy skin.
>Put the turkey into the oven and begin to roast.
>After the first 30 minutes, reduce the heat to 150°C
(300°F/gas mark 2).
>If you feel the turkey is browning too quickly you can cover it with some tin foil for the first two hours.
>Allocate 20 minutes per pound and then an additional 20-30 minutes in the oven. In total it should take about 4.5 hours. >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, and carve as required.
Kevin Dundon's Christmas Made Easy is on RTE1 this Monday at 8.30pm. For more recipes, visit www.dunbrodyhouse.com