Today I have two alternatives for the festive season. With so many family occasions on the horizon, you may well have a crowd to feed and the opportunity to cook beef or goose. I cooked this roast rib of beef for a big family lunch we had recently to welcome my brother home from Australia. It is one of my favourite cuts. I used the Simply Better Irish Angus Rib Roast, which is tender, full of flavour and very consistent. Always let it come back up to room temperature before roasting. Blue cheese goes very well with beef, and this is a beautiful rich gravy.

We always have a goose on Christmas Day. For a long time, goose was the meal of choice on Christmas Day before turkey became more popular. I get ours from Ken and Sorcha Moffitt, who are local producers. Their Thornhill Duck have been supplying the restaurant industry for 33 years. Make sure you save the drained off fat to use with crispy roast potatoes. The red cabbage works well with it and it keeps well, also. This Christmas, I plan to serve it all with a honey and clove sauce. It’s a lovely, rich, delicious meal.

Happy Cooking,


Roast Rib of Beef on the Bone with Port & Cashel Blue Gravy

Serves six

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp English mustard powder
  • 1.5kg (3¼lb) French-trimmed rib of beef on the bone, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and quartered (leave the root intact)
  • 2 large carrots, halved lengthways
  • 1 garlic bulb, cut in half
  • A small handful of thyme leaves, plus extra to garnish
  • 2 tsp plain flour
  • 4 tbsp ruby red port
  • 400ml (14fl oz) beef or chicken stock
  • 75g (3oz) Cashel Blue cheese, rind removed and cheese crumbled into small pieces

    sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • creamed horseradish, to serve
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F/gas mark 8).

    2. Toast the peppercorns in a dry frying pan until aromatic, then put in a pestle and mortar and grind until cracked. Mix in the mustard and 2 teaspoons of salt. Wipe the meat with damp kitchen paper and rub with the mustard mix.

    3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a frying pan that’s large enough to take the rib of beef. Add the beef and quickly sear until lightly browned on all sides.

    4. Pour the rest of the oil into a roasting tin, then add the onions, carrots, garlic halves and thyme, tossing to coat. Season to taste, then sit the seared beef in the middle of the vegetables.

    5. Roast in the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6) and roast for 10 minutes per 450g (1lb) for rare, 12 minutes for medium-rare and 20–25 minutes for well done. A joint this size will take just under 1 hour to cook to medium-rare. Take out and baste halfway through the cooking time.

    6. When the beef is cooked to your liking, transfer to a platter with the garlic halves, cover with tin foil and leave to rest for 30 minutes while you make the gravy.

    7. Pour the juices from the roasting tin into a jug and leave the fat to settle on top, then skim off and discard. Put the roasting tin on the hob and stir in the flour, scraping the bottom of the tin with a wooden spoon to remove any residue.

    8. Gradually stir in the port and allow to bubble down completely. Pour in the stock and reserved juices and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring, until reduced by one-third. Strain into a clean pan, then whisk in the Cashel Blue until it has melted. Season with pepper and pour into a gravy boat.

    9. To serve, carve the rested beef into slices and arrange on warmed plates with the roasted garlic, a dollop of creamed horseradish and veg of your choice. Garnish with ?extra sprigs of fresh thyme. Hand round the gravy separately.

    Roasted goose is a nice alternative to a turkey dinner \ Philip Doyle

    Stuffed Roast Goose with Braised Red Cabbage

    Serves 8

    6kg (12lb) oven-ready goose, at room temperature

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp ruby red port or red wine
  • finely grated rind of 1 orange
  • For the stuffing

  • 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into thin slices
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 350g (12oz) sausage meat
  • 75g (3oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 100g (4oz) dried cranberries
  • 100g (4oz) walnut halves, chopped
  • For the Red Cabbage

  • 1 head red cabbage, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 50g (2oz) smoked bacon, diced
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) red wine
  • 300ml (1/2 pint) apple juice
  • 2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Madeira jus or red wine sauce, to serve
  • 1. To make the stuffing, heat the oil in a large frying pan. Add the apples and sauté for 3-4 minutes until softened and golden. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.

    2. Once cool, add the thyme, sausage meat, breadcrumbs, cranberries and walnuts, stirring gently until evenly mixed. Season to taste.

    3. Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F, Gas mark 6). Place the goose on a rack set over a roasting tin. Pour over a full kettle of boiling water to make the skin crispy and help render the fat then drain off the water from the roasting tin.

    4.. To stuff the goose, start at the neck end where you’ll find a flap of loose skin. Gently loosen this away from the breast and you’ll be able to make a triangular pocket. Pack in two-thirds of the stuffing as far as you can go and make a neat round shape on the outside, then tuck the neck flap under the goose and secure it with a small skewer. Rub all over with salt. Press the remaining stuffing into the base of a 225g (8oz) loaf tin and set aside.

    5 Weigh the goose and calculate the cooking time, allowing 15 minutes per 450g (1lb) plus 15 minutes – a goose this size should take about 3.5 hours to cook. Place in the oven to roast, draining off excess fat every 30 minutes or so. After one hour, reduce the oven temperature to 180°C (350°F), Gas mark 4. Continue to cook, still draining the fat off every half an hour.

    6. Meanwhile, make the red cabbage: heat the oil in a heavy-based pan over a high heat. Add the bacon and sauté for 30 seconds, then add the cabbage, stirring to combine.

    7. Reduce the heat and cook for 15 minutes until the cabbage is well cooked down, adding a tablespoon or two of water if the cabbage starts to catch on the bottom. Add the vinegar, sugar, wine and apple juice. Give a good stir, then cover with a lid and simmer for one hour over a low heat, stirring occasionally.

    8. Stir in the apples and spices and cook gently for another 30 minutes, again stirring occasionally. Season to taste and keep warm over a low heat.

    9. Remove the goose from the oven 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time. Warm the redcurrant jelly, balsamic vinegar, port or wine and orange rind in a small pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the jelly dissolves and then cook for 4-5 minutes until syrupy. Brush all over the goose.

    10. Return the goose to the oven with the reserved tin of extra stuffing and cook for the final 30 minutes, until completely tender. Transfer the goose to a serving platter and cover with foil, then leave to rest for 10 minutes.

    11. To serve, garnish the roast goose with the thyme and bring to the table. 12 Turn the tin of extra stuffing on to a warmed plate. Carve into slices and arrange on warmed plates, discarding any excess fat. Add some of the stuffing to each plate with the roasted apples and braised red cabbage.

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    Let the festivities begin