At Christmastime, I always treat the turkey like a large chicken. It just takes longer to cook. You want it moist, succulent and juicy. For this recipe, I used plenty of delicious Irish butter. Some streaky bacon on top of the turkey adds great flavour. With the turkey, keep spooning over the juices while it’s roasting to keep it really moist. Make sure your turkey and ham are Irish produced and Bord Bia Quality Assured. For the turkey, we use Hogan’s Farm near Kells in Co Meath. They have a good farm shop, also.

A traditional ham is the perfect choice if you have a lot of people to feed. It tastes equally good served hot or cold. This ham recipe, with cider and ginger, has lots of interesting flavour. Ginger and apricot work well together in the glaze. You can make this glaze ahead. Brush it on two or three times. This ham can be made ahead and kept in the fridge.

James Whelan Butchers made beef dripping fashionable for perfect roast potatoes. Or you could use some goose or duck fat from Skeaghanore West Cork Farm in Ballydehob. You could have your potatoes par-cooked the night before and leave them in salted water. Here’s a tip: don’t over-complicate Christmas dinner. One or two types of potatoes max and two types of veg is plenty. I love a glazed carrot and maybe some cauliflower cheese.

This is a really good recipe for the buttery, fresh herb stuffing that everyone seems to love. I have been making it for years. If you prefer, it can be cooked and served in a separate dish rather than in the bird itself. This makes it more crispy and golden. This stuffing will keep for a week in your fridge so you can make it ahead and save yourself work on the day.

Carol’s Stock Market is great for gravy — just add a little Madeira. It transforms into a gravy. I use a medium to sweet Madeira and then the redcurrant jelly gives lovely tartness.

Happy cooking,


Roast turkey with streaky bacon

Serves 10-12

1 x 4.5–5.4kg (10–12lb) oven-ready turkey (preferably free-range), at room temp

1 quantity stuffing (optional)

100g (4oz) butter, softened

15–18 rindless streaky bacon rashers

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

small bunch of fresh herbs (to include

parsley, sage and bay leaves), to garnish

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5).

2 Turn the turkey breast side up and pack the neck cavity loosely with stuffing (if using), then tie the top of the drumsticks together with string. Smear with most of the butter and season generously, then place the bacon over the breasts to cover them completely. Weigh the turkey to

calculate the required cooking time, allowing 20 minutes per 450g (1lb) plus 20 minutes extra.

3 Lay a large sheet of foil lengthways over a large roasting tin, leaving enough at each end to wrap over the turkey, then lightly butter the foil. Repeat with another sheet of foil, but this time laying it across the tin. Place the stuffed turkey in the centre of the foil, breast side up, then wrap loosely to enclose but still allowing air to circulate around the turkey.

4 Put in the oven and cook according to your calculated cooking time, carefully unwrapping and basting the turkey every 40 minutes. For the final hour, fold back and remove the foil, keeping the ends of the drumsticks still covered in foil to prevent them from burning. Baste well and return to the oven. The turkey should be a rich, dark brown colour. To make sure it’s cooked, insert a fine skewer into the thickest part of the thigh – the juices should run clear, but if they are still pink, return the turkey to the oven and check again every 15 minutes, until you are happy that it is cooked right through. Remove from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Cover with foil and leave to rest in a warm place for 10 minutes (up to 30 minutes is fine).

5 To serve, garnish the turkey with the bunch of herbs in the neck cavity and bring to the table. Carve into slices and arrange on warmed plates with all the trimmings.

Golden Crunch Roast Potatoes

Serves 8-10

1.5kg (3¼lb) floury potatoes,

such as Rooster, Desiree, King Edward or Maris Piper

4 tbsp beef dripping, goose or duck fat (from a jar or left over from a roast)

sea salt

Handful of fresh rosemary sprigs (optional)

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F/gas mark 5).

2 Wash and peel the potatoes, reserving the peel. Cut the potatoes in half or into quarters, depending on their size. Make sure they are consistent.

3 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 eight minutes.

4 Meanwhile, put the beef dripping, goose or duck fat in a large roasting tin and put it into the oven to heat.

5 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.

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

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

8 Add some fresh rosemary sprigs (if using) about 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time.

9 Serve immediately, as these do not appreciate hanging around.

Variation: Roasted potatoes with truffle and Parmesan

For a really decadent twist, once the roast potatoes are cooked, sprinkle them with a couple teaspoons of your favourite truffle oil, then scatter over freshly grated Parmesan cheese to serve.

Christmas ham with sticky apricot and ginger glaze

Serves 10-12

1 x 5.25kg (11½lb) leg of gammon

(on the bone)

4 celery sticks, roughly chopped

2 onions, sliced

5cm (2in) piece of root ginger, sliced

1 small bunch of fresh thyme

1 tbsp black peppercorns

4 whole cloves

2 star anise

1.5 litres (2¾ pints) cider

1 tsp ground ginger

For the glaze:

175g (6oz) good-quality apricot jam or conserve

100g (4oz) light brown sugar

Juice of 1 lemon

4 star anise

4 pieces of preserved stem ginger, cut into small matchstick-sized strips

1 Although gammon is less salty nowadays, it’s still a good idea to soak it. Place the gammon in a large pan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for at least six hours (or overnight is best), then drain.

2 Preheat the oven to 120°C (250°F/gas mark ½).

3 Use a large, deep roasting tin with a rack that’s big enough to hold the ham. Put the celery, onions, fresh ginger, thyme, peppercorns, cloves and star anise in the tin and pour over the cider, then put the rack on top. Sit the gammon on the rack and cover with a large tent of foil, sealing it well. Put on the hob over a high heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes, then transfer to the oven. Cook for 12 hours or overnight – you can now leave it for 1–2 days before finishing the recipe. Alternatively, leave it to rest and cool down for at least 30 minutes.

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

5 Now make the glaze. Put the apricot jam or conserve in a small pan with the sugar, lemon juice and star anise. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved, then add the stem ginger and simmer for 3–4 minutes, until reduced to a thick glaze, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn’t catch at the bottom.

6 Carefully peel away the skin on the ham, leaving the layer of white fat intact. Using a sharp knife, score the fat diagonally to make a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat.

7 Rub the ground ginger all over the ham, then brush over all but a couple of spoonfuls of the glaze, distributing the stem ginger strips and star anise evenly over the top of the ham. Roast for 45 minutes to one hour, until golden and sticky. Remove the cooked ham from the oven, transfer to a serving platter and leave to rest for 15–20 minutes.

8 To serve, carve slices from one side of the ham, cutting diagonally to achieve.

Perfect Christmas Gravy

1 heaped tbsp plain flour

3 tbsp Madeira

600ml (1 pint) turkey

or goose stock

1 tbsp redcurrant jelly (optional)

sea salt and freshly ground

black pepper

1 Pour the turkey or goose juices from the roasting tin into a jug, then spoon off two tablespoons of the fat (which will be floating on the top) and put this back into the unwashed tin. Spoon off any remaining fat from the cooking juices and discard.

2 Put the roasting tin directly on the hob over a gentle heat and stir the flour into the residue in the tin. Cook on the hob for a minute or two, stirring, until golden. Pour in the Madeira, stirring to combine, then gradually add the stock, stirring until smooth after each addition. Bring to the boil and let it bubble for about 10 minutes, until reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally.

3 Whisk in the redcurrant jelly (if using) until dissolved, then add the skimmed juices from the roasted bird back into the gravy and season to taste. Strain into a warmed gravy boat to serve.

Christmas Herb & Onion Stuffing

Makes enough to stuff 1 X 4.5–5.4KG (10–12lb) turkey

175g (6oz) butter

2 onions, finely chopped

500g (18oz) fresh white


25g (1oz) fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, leaves finely chopped

15g (½oz) fresh thyme sprigs, leaves only

15g (½oz) fresh rosemary sprigs, leaves finely chopped

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Melt the butter in a frying pan set over a low heat, then add the onions and sauté for about 10 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Tip into a bowl and mix in the breadcrumbs and herbs, then season generously. Leave to cool completely.

2 Use the stuffing to three-quarters fill the cavity of the bird, then secure the flaps of skin over the cavity with a metal skewer. Use the rest of the stuffing to fill the crop of the neck end. 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.

3 Pack the stuffing inside as far as you can go and make a neat round shape on the outside, then tuck the neck flap underneath the bird and secure it with a small skewer.

Variation: Fruity Chestnut & Sage Stuffing

Try adding 200g (7oz) of chopped canned or vacuum-packed chestnuts to the stuffing along with a couple handfuls of dried cranberries or chopped dried apricots.

This version also benefits from the addition of a good tablespoon of chopped fresh sage.

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