Saturday, December 15, 2012

Recipe: Traditional Roast Turkey with Chestnut & Bacon Stuffing

Everyone looks forward to Christmas dinner, it's the one time of year when you have all your loved ones around the dining table tucking into a festive feast of succulent roast turkey. When it comes to roast turkey the recipe below isn't new, but it is a classic, which is why this recipe is always a real winner. It will leave plenty of left over turkey and stuffing for a crusty toasted sandwich later in evening too! The most important part of a good turkey dinner is sourcing a good quality, free-range turkey which will yield the very best results. Across the country, there are many Irish turkey suppliers to choose from including:

- Dan Ahern Free Range Turkey based in Midleton, Co. Cork
- The Friendly Farmer based in Co. Galway
- McEvoy's Farm Co. Kildare
- Ballybryan Farm in Co. Offaly - and hundreds more besides.



- 10lb or 4.5kg Bronze Turkey (keep turkey giblets for stock).
- 250g Irish Country Butter. 
- 24 pieces of Streaky Bacon.
- Salt & Black Pepper.


- 2 Medium Onions (diced).
- 200g Bacon Lardons (or chopped bacon).
- 175g Irish Country Butter.
- 350g Breadcrumbs.
- 200g Chestnuts (vac pac, roughly chopped).
- 3 Tbsp Freshly chopped herbs (flat leaf parsley, thyme, sage)
- Sea Salt and Black Pepper.

Cranberry Sauce

- 250g Fresh Cranberries.
- 100g Caster Sugar.

Giblet Stock:

- Turkey Giblets (discard the liver).
- 150ml White Wine (optional).
- 1 Onion (sliced).
- 1 Carrot (sliced).
- A Stick of Celery (sliced).
- 3 Sprigs of Thyme.
- 3 Sprigs of Parsley.
- 1 Bay Leaf.
- 6 Whole Peppercorns.
- 1 Garlic Clove.
- A Generous Pinch of Sea Salt.


- 500ml Turkey Stock.
- 1 to 2 Tbsp Plain Flour.

Christmas Eve:

There's lots you can do on Christmas Eve to get yourself organised and take the pressure off including; making the stock, cranberry sauce, stuffing and preparing your turkey. On Christmas Eve take your turkey out of the fridge and leave it come up to room temperature overnight in a cool dry place. 

For The Giblet Stock:

1. Remove the giblets from inside your bird and wash (discarding the liver as it will make the stock bitter).

2. Bring a large heavy bottomed saucepan with 1 litre of water to the boil. Add in the giblets, onion, celery, herbs, garlic, white wine and bay leaf to the pot. Bring to the boil once more, then simmer for 1.5 to 2 hrs. Ensure you taste your stock, if you feel it needs more time continue on.

3. Using a large metal spoon remove the stock froth from the surface of the liquid and discard. Pour the stock into a container, allowing it to cool and refrigerate until needed.

Chestnut Stuffing:

1. Sweat the onions, bacon and garlic with the butter in a saucepan over a gentle heat until soft but not browned for around 10mins. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

2. Add the chopped chestnuts and herbs for a further 2 mins before mixing in the breadcrumbs. Allow to cool completely before covering and placing in the fridge to stuff your bird the following morning.

Cranberry Sauce:

Place the cranberries in a heavy bottomed sauce pan with 150ml cold water and bring to the boil. Once boiled reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until the berries start to burst and tip in the sugar for the final 2-3 minutes. Allow to cool before placing in the fridge until ready to serve.

Christmas Morning:

The turkey needs to come up to room temperature before roasting which can take a number of hours so leave it out the night before in a cool dry place covered in tin foil. On Christmas Eve, wash the cavity of the bird, season and cover your bird.

For The Roast Turkey:

Preheat your non-fan assisted oven to 220ºC or Gas Mark 7, then calculate your cooking time as below weighing the bird (including the stuffing). The general rule of thumb is 15 min per lb (450g) + 30 mins over with the table below being a good reference point:
  • (10lb) = 2 hours 
  • (12lb) = 2½ hours
  • (17lb) = 3 hours
  • (20lb) = 3½ hours
  • (25lb) = 4½ hours
1. Smear your turkey with good quality Irish butter, salt, black pepper and place 6-8 strips of streaky bacon on top. Cover with foil and roast the turkey in the oven for the first 30 mins at 220ºC or gas mark 7

2. After the first 30 mins baste your turkey once more, cover in foil again before lowering the temperature to 180ºC or gas mark 4 for the guided times above and continue to baste your turkey at 30 minute intervals throughout cooking. It is a good idea to remove the streaks of bacon on top and replace with fresh bacon streaks a few times throughout cooking for a nice tasty skin.

3. Remove the foil, baste your turkey once more and increase the temperature again to 220ºC / gas mark 7 for the final 30 minutes.

4. The turkey is cooked when the thickest part of the turkey's leg is pierced with a skewer and the juices run clear. If the juices are still pink, place the turkey back in the oven and keep checking at 15 minute intervals until the juices have run clear. The guidelines above should only be used as a guideline; it is the turkey leg test which is the best indicator as to whether the turkey is cooked or not. Once the juices have run clear, place the turkey on a serving plate allowing to rest for 40mins to an hour before carving.


Warm 500 ml of turkey stock, while the stock is warming strain the fat from the roasting tin leaving only the juices. Pour the stock over, using a balloon-whisk, whisk in small amounts of plain flour and keep whisking with the juices over until it turns a smooth delicious golden brown. Serve in a warmed gravy boat alongside the turkey and all the trimmings.

Brussel Sprouts:

The most feared vegetable at Christmas but I feel this is only because a lot of people over cook them. Quick tip: Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil (just enough to cover your Brussel sprouts). While the water is boiling you can slice each Brussel sprout in half and set aside. Once the water is boiling hot, tip in your Brussel Sprouts and cook for 6 minutes. Test to see if they are soft with the tip of a sharp knife before draining. Return to the pan with a really generous dollop of butter to coat the Brussel Sprouts before serving. Always buy locally grown Brussel Sprouts as they will taste far better than anything that has been imported with air miles.

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Christmas Day Soup Suggestion: Jerusalem Artichoke Soup Recipe

Christmas Party Bites: Chocolate Eclairs Recipe

Christmas Chocolate Tart Cake Recipe

Christmas Mince Pies Recipe

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Recipe: Crumbled Mince Pies with Brandy Butter

Everyone loves a good mince pie - delicious buttery pastry, the aroma of spiced mincemeat freshly baked from the oven and of course lots of brandy butter melting on top. Homemade mince pies are so simple to bake leaving a taste which is streets ahead of their supermarket cousins. This recipe is simple, the crumble topping is absolutely fool proof with a nice hint of cinnamon and you can pick up a great range of artisan mincemeat if you don't want to make a batch of your own.

Although you might like to top your mince pies with little pastry stars, puff pastry tops, or even a thick layer of icing but I find this crumble topping is the most delicious and freezes well too. When it comes to the best mince pies try to source the best ingredients you can find including good quality artisan mincemeat, pure Irish country butter (not margarine) and of course a nice brandy for the brandy butter.

Serves 18



- 350g Plain Flour (sieved).
- 150g Unsalted Butter (chilled & cubed).
- 50g Caster Sugar.
- 1 Free Range Egg.


- 350g Artisan Mincemeat (Wexford Mincemeat)

Crumble Topping:

- 150g Plain Flour.
- 100g Unsalted Butter.
- 50g Caster Sugar.
- ½ Tsp Ground Cinnamon

Brandy Butter:

- 150g Unsalted Country Butter (at room temperature).
- 100g Icing Sugar (Sieved).
- 2 to 3 Tbsp Brandy.
- 1 Tbsp Boiling Water.


1. First make the pastry by rubbing the flour, butter and sugar to form a fine breadcrumb mixture in a large wide mixing bowl. Pour in the beaten egg slowly to bring the mixture together (you may not need the whole egg).

2. Tip the mixture out onto a chilled well floured marble surface, bring the mixture together gently with your hands and form into a rectangular shape (remember too much rolling will make your pastry tough). Cover with cling film and chill in the fridge for at least 30mins but ideally an hour.

3. Lightly butter and flour a 12-hole muffin tray, roll out your pastry dough to the thickness of a one euro coin and cut out 12 circles with your pastry cutter (the top of a wine glass works well too but be very careful). Press the pastry circles into each hole and place a tbsp of mincemeat in each pastry circle. You can now leave in the fridge and bake later or freeze a batch.

4. Make your crumble by rubbing the flour, cinnamon, butter and caster sugar together to form a fine bread crumb mixture. Cover the top of each pie with just enough crumble to cover the mincemeat.

5. Bake for 20 - 25 mins or until the tops are golden brown. Turn the tray midway through baking to ensure an even bake throughout. Remove from the oven and let the mince pies completely cool before removing from the tin. Place on a cake stand with a dusting of icing sugar over each pie.

For The Brandy Butter:

Beat the icing sugar and butter together until smooth. Mix in the water then add in the brandy. Store in the fridge over night.

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Photography: Jakub Walutek Photography
Styling: Dermot O' Sullivan

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dermie's Weekly Best Buy: Green Saffron Spices...

Green Saffron is an environmentally friendly Indian family business founded by Arun Kapil. Arun came up with an idea to bring small, frequent shipments of the freshest, highest quality spices direct from India to their base in Midleton, East Cork and sell at the local Farmers' markets and food stores.

Green Saffron specialises in the highest grade, farm-fresh whole spices and proprietary blends of exceptional quality brought direct to you for use in your home cooking. Arun's extended family in India travel the length of India on their mission to source the very finest spices available, all with 100% provenance.

Arun oversees all of the grinding and blending of the spices to ensure his loyal customers receive the very freshest spices, the most beautiful proprietary blends and traditional “curry powders” of the utmost, authentic nature. It is not unusual for their spices to be ground and blended on the same day as they are shipped.

Using Green Saffron spice blends really could not be simpler as Arun includes simple step-by-step recipes on the back of every pack guiding you through how to prepare the dish. The main blends can be found in attractive brown paper sachets in the following range:

Rogan Josh is a medium Rattan Jyoth bark and Kashmiri chillies for a distinctive red colour combine with beautifully pungent asafoetida and sweetly fragrant green cardamoms to create his intensely honest offering from Northern India.

Masala Gosht is a hot aromatic mace, intoxicating nutmegs and sun dried curry leaves which combine in this sweetly fragrant dish of Andhra Pradesh, a region of Southern India renowned for a little extra kick in its cuisine.

Dahl Makhani is a medium creamy Punjabi classic combining beautifully aromatic Garam Masala with pungent asafoetida, an earthy tang of cumin and a tantalising touch of fresh chilli for this warming wholesome dish.

Garam Masala is a beautiful mild seasoning sprinkled on a curry or in a riata and a gently exotic lift when added to any sauce, marinade or soup. It includes black pepper, white cumin, coriander, fennel, cinnamon, star anise, green cardamon, cloves, mace, nutmeg, black cardamon, rose petals.

Green Saffron's Seasonal Range...  

Green Saffron stock a number of delicious seasonal ranges from Mulled Wine, to Turkey Seasoning, to even Christmas Puddings. Keep an eye out for their range at Mahon Point Farmers' Market every Thursday, at the Midleton Farmers' Market and The Milk Market, Limerick every Saturday. 

Green Saffron are increasing their retail presence and can now be found in all good artisan food stores including Donnybrook Fair, Fallon & Byrne and in selected SuperValu outlets. A full list of stockists can be found here.

Recipe: Arun's Chana Masala One Pot Wonder Curry

(Serves 4-6)


- 1 Tbp ghee, butter, clarified butter (or a couple of splashes of oil)
- 450g or 1 big onion, chopped up into a rough dice
- 60g or 2 fat inches of ginger, grated or whizzed
- 4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or whizzed
- 1 pkt of Green Saffron Chana Masala mix
- 1 tin Chopped tomatoes
- 1 tin Chickpeas


1. Put the ghee (butter or oil) into a heavy bottomed saucepan or casserole dish and heat on a medium flame.

2. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and sweat gently on a low heat until the onions have softened and the garlic gives off its gorgeous fragrance. Try not to colour the garlic, as this will give it and the end dish a bitter flavour.

3. Add the packet of Green Saffron Chana Masala mix and stir for a couple of minutes to combine all the flavours. It may look a bit dry at this stage, but don’t worry it’s all good!

4. Open the tins, drain the chick peas in a sieve. Discard the salty water from the chick peas – you’re not going to need it. Pour the chick peas and chopped tomatoes into the pan, turn up the heat and gently stir.

5. Heat the mixture until it just starts to bubble, then turn the heat down and simmer for a few minutes, 5 or 10 minutes will do.

6. Then, turn the heat off, sprinkle with Green Saffron Garam Masala and serve immediately... simple!

Serving suggestion:

Serve with loads of steaming, fluffy Indian Basmati Rice as part of an Indian meal or serve by itself with a couple of chapattis and riata...


This recipe has been tried and tested by the Green Saffron Masaalchi and is pretty much guaranteed, but if you want to change the quantities of a couple of ingredients go for it, experiment and enjoy your cooking. With Green Saffron spices you can’t go wrong!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Recipe: Luxurious Pedro Ximénez Chocolate Tart

Pedro Ximénez is a classic, luscious, sweet Spanish dessert sherry made using sun dried Pedro Ximénez grapes. It is dark mahogany in colour, reminiscent of raisins on the nose with a rich, sweet and velvety notes on the mouth leaving a very long finish. 

Pedro Ximénez sherry is intensely sweet and has a real affinity with milk chocolate and is widely available in all good licensed premises. This recipe uses a generous helping of Pedro Ximénez to transform an ordinary chocolate tart recipe into something sensational.

If you wish to add extra depth to the chocolate tart then replace milk chocolate with dark chocolate in this recipe. Enjoy.

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Serves 6

Shopping List:


- 190g Cream flour.
- 100g Unsalted butter (diced).
- 75g Caster sugar.
- Pinch Sea Salt.
- 1 Organic Egg (lightly beaten).
- Egg Wash.
- 10" Tart Tin (26cm).

Chocolate Filling:

- 400ml Double cream.
- 200g Valrhona Milk Chocolate.
- Pinch Sea Salt.
- 25g Caster Sugar.
- 2 Organic Eggs.
- 100ml Pedro Ximénez (double serving).
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Essence.


1. Place the flour, sugar, salt and butter into a food processor. Using the pulse setting, pulse the mixture a number of times slowly until the mixture resembles curse breadcrumbs. Add in the egg until the mixture comes together. Do not over work the dough as it will make the pastry tough.

2. Flatten out the dough on a floured surface into a rectangular shape 2cm thick. Then wrap in cling flim and place in the fridge for 30mins. Alternatively place in the freezer for 10 minutes.

3. Grease your loose bottom pastry tin lightly with butter and remove the pastry from the fridge. Roll out the pastry on a cold floured marble surface to a width of half an inch. Ensure you are rolling a circular shape enough to cover the sides and ends of your tin using the round loose base as your guide.

4. Using a pallet knife gently lift the pastry over your tart tin. With some of the left-over pastry, roll a small 1 inch ball of pastry dough and use this to smooth out the edges of your tart tin. Using a folk, prick the base, cover with cling film and place the lined tin in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees or gas mark 4. Take the pastry tin out of the fridge and line with baking parchment coming up over the sides of the tin. Fill the tin with baking beans and 'bake blind' for 20 minutes until the pastry is dry.

6. Take the beans out of the pastry tray, brush the pastry with egg wash and place it back in the oven for a further 3-5 minutes until the pastry is pale and golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool while you make the chocolate filling.

7. Heat the cream in a heavy bottomed saucepan over a gentle heat until it reaches the 'shivery stage'. Remove from the heat, add chocolate and stir until melted. Then mix in the sea salt, Pedro Ximénez and vanilla.

8. Whisk the eggs yolks and the sugar until they form a thick, white, froth and gently fold into the chocolate mixture so as to not knock out any of the air.

9. Bake for 20 minutes until just set with a very slight wobble in the centre. Do not over cook the chocolate mixture as you will dry out the tart.

10. Cool completely before serving. It is perfectly fine to make this tart the evening before your dinner party. Serve with a glass of Pedro Ximénez, a dessert wine or a strong black coffee.

If you like this recipe, you may like my Double Chocolate Sea Salt Brownies.

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Fancy a chat about this recipe? Email Dermie.
Photography: Jakub Walutek
Styling: Dermie