Top tips to create the perfect Irish festive feast this Christmas
Life & Style

Top tips to create the perfect Irish festive feast this Christmas

THE holiday season is here which means time to get the family together and enjoy some home cooking.

You might not make it back to Ireland this Christmas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a taste of home when you sit down for your Christmas dinner.

If you’ve bought the turkey and the trimmings here are our favourite recipes, provided by Bord Bia, to give your festive eating a truly Irish flavour.

To start…

Smoked Salmon on Potato Cakes

Potato pancakes with smoked salmon


50g cooked, mashed potatoes

75g flour

2 eggs, beaten

2 tbsp scallions, finely chopped

Salt, pepper and nutmeg

50g butter, melted

125ml soured cream

1 tbsp dill, chopped

Salt and black pepper


Mix the potato, flour, eggs, scallions, salt, pepper, nutmeg and half the butter.

Mix well together and shape into 12 small potato cakes.

Heat the remaining butter in a non-stick pan, cook the potato cakes until nicely browned on each side.

The cakes can be served immediately or kept overnight in the fridge.

Fifteen minutes before serving reheat in a hot oven.

To Serve: Mix the soured cream and seasoning. Place the smoked salmon on each potato cake and top with the cream.

The main event….

Roast Turkey with Thyme and Onion Stuffing

Roast turkey with trimmings



7kg (14 lb) turkey, oven ready

Salt, black pepper and a little flour

2 tbsp softened butter

8 slices streaky bacon

Thyme and Onion Stuffing

450g (1 lb) bread, broken into pieces

6 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 medium onion, cut into quarters

Salt and black pepper

100-150g (4-6 oz) butter, softened


To make the stuffing:

Place the bread, parsley, thyme and onion in a food processor. Process until you have fine breadcrumbs and the onion is finely chopped. Remove to a bowl, season and mix in the butter.

To stuff the turkey:

Loosen the skin at the neck end with your hands. Pack the stuffing in, pushing it up between the flesh and the skin, but not too tightly, because it will expand during cooking. Tuck the neck flap under the bird's back and secure with a cocktail stick. Any remaining stuffing can be cooked in a covered baking dish with the turkey.

To cook the turkey:

Allow 15-20 minutes cooking time per pound (allow 10-15 minutes per pound for turkeys weighing over 16 lbs).

Place the turkey, breast side up, in an oiled roasting tin.

Set the oven at Gas Mark 7, 220°C (450°F).

Season the turkey with salt and pepper and dust with a little flour.

Rub all over with the butter, then lay the bacon slices on the breast, overlapping each other. Cover the bacon with a piece of buttered greaseproof paper. This will keep the bacon in place.

Wrap the turkey loosely in foil and roast in the preset oven.

After the first 3/4 of an hour reduce the heat to Gas Mark 3, 170°C (325°F).

Baste a couple of times during roasting. For the last 1/2 hour remove the tin foil.

To check if the turkey is cooked pierce the thickest part of the leg - the juices should run clear.

When the turkey is cooked remove from the oven, transfer to a large plate, reserve the cooking juices in the tin to make the gravy.

Cover the turkey loosely with foil and allow to rest for 1/2 hour in a warm place while you finish the ham and roast potatoes.

Honey Glazed Ham

Honey glazed ham


1 whole ham

1-2 carrots, chopped

1-2 sticks celery, chopped

1 onion, halved

1 tbsp peppercorns

1 bay leaf

2 tbsp mustard

3 tbsp. clear honey

Rind of 1 orange, coarsely grated

1 tbsp brown sugar


Place the ham, vegetables, peppercorns and bay leaf in a large saucepan.

Place a lid on the pan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for approximately three hours (keep ham stock for sauce and soup).

When the ham is cooked the skin will peel off easily.

Remove the joint from the saucepan and place on a roasting tin. Using a sharp knife remove all skin and score the fat into diamonds.

Spread it with the mustard, honey, orange rind and sugar. When you have removed the turkey from the oven, bake the ham at Gas Mark 6, 200°C (400°F) for about 30 minutes until golden brown.

On the side…

Neven Maguire’s roast potatoes

Crispy golden roast potatoes


1.5kg of floury potatoes, such as Rooster, Desiree, King Edward or Maris Piper

4 tbsp James Whelan (or other) beef dripping

sea salt

handful of fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)


Wash and peel the potatoes, reserving the peel.

Cut the potatoes in half or into quarters, depending on their size. Put them in a large pan of salted boiling water along with the peel – it’s easiest if you can put this in a muslin infusing bag. Parboil for 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the beef dripping in a large roasting tin and put it into the oven to heat. Drain the potatoes and discard the peel, then put them back in the pan and shake gently to rough up the edges.

Take the roasting tin out of the oven and put on the hob over a gentle heat.

Put the potatoes in one by one – they should sizzle as they hit the pan – and baste all over. Season with salt.

Roast in the oven for about 1 hour, until golden and crunchy, keeping an eye on them and basting with a little more fat if they begin to look dry.

Add some fresh rosemary sprigs (if using) about 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Serve immediately, as these do not appreciate hanging around.

Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Lardons

Brussels sprouts with bacon


600g Brussels sprouts, trimmed, larger ones halved

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt and black pepper

100g lardons


Preheat the oven to 200˚C/180˚C fan/gas mark 6.

Place sprouts in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and black pepper, tossing to coat.

Transfer the sprouts onto a large baking tray, making sure they’re spread out in a single layer. Scatter the lardons evenly over the sprouts.

Roast for 25 minutes until golden, turning halfway through.

Serve immediately.

Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce


1 packet x 325g (12 oz) cranberries

225g (8 oz) sugar

125ml (1/4 pint) water


Simmer the lot together for 5-10 minutes.

Something sweet…

Plum and Almond Tart

Plum and almond tart



180g butter

75g icing sugar

2 egg yolks

225g plain flour


100g soft butter

150g sugar

100g amaretto biscuits

200g ground almonds

4 eggs

16 plums, approx., cut in half, stones removed, sliced.


To make the pastry:

In a food processor, mix the butter, icing sugar and egg together.

Add in the flour.  Gather up the pastry and chill for an hour.

For the filling:

Also in the processor, mix the butter, sugar, biscuits, ground almonds and eggs.

Set the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180C (350F).

Roll out the pastry to line a 28cm diameter x 3cm deep tart tin. Chill for 10 minutes.

Spread the filling mixture over the base.

Place the plum slices on top and sprinkle with an extra tbsp of sugar.

Bake for 45-50 minutes until completely set and nicely browned.

Serve warm with a spoonful of lightly whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream.