Soon we will all be tucking into that annual festive feast; the Christmas Day dinner. In Ireland, it’s all about the bird – the turkey with all the trimmings to be exact.
We tracked down a recipe for a classic Irish roast turkey, complete with a delicious stuffing and the perfect gravy to pour over as you please. in Maynooth, County Kildare is known for its fantastic food, and at this time of year it oozes festive cheer.
Executive Head Chef Cathal Kavanagh has taken a leaf out of his own book, literally, when sharing these Christmas dinner recipes from the cookbook Carton House: Bringing the Taste Home.
Cook up one of these on the big day, and we’ll all be hailing the chef.
Classic Roast Turkey
This turkey recipe is fragrant and foolproof; the key to stress-free Christmas dinners from now on
Serves 6 – 8
- 5kg (9.9 lbs) turkey, thawed if frozen, giblets removed
- 1 orange, quartered
- 60g (2oz) butter, at room temperature
- 20 cocktail sausages
- 10 smoked streaky rasher bacon
- Bunch of sage
- Bunch of rosemary
1 Preheat the oven to 190˚C/gas mark 5 (375°F ). Wash the turkey inside and out and dry well with kitchen paper.
2 Put the orange quarters into the turkey’s cavity. If you are stuffing the turkey, put the stuffing into the neck end, pushing it upwards towards the breast. Don’t pull the neck skin too tightly, as the stuffing will expand during cooking. Secure the skin with wooden or metal skewers crossways and tie the turkey legs together at the top of the drumsticks for a good shape.
3 Weigh the turkey and calculate the cooking time at 18 minutes per 450g (16oz).
4 Grease a large roasting tin with some of the butter. Smear the rest over the turkey skin and season well with salt and pepper, then place in the tin. Loosely cover with foil and roast for the calculated time. Meanwhile, halve the rashers, stretch slightly and wrap around each cocktail sausage.
5 Baste the turkey every hour. One hour before the end of cooking, remove the foil and drain off the excess fat. Thirty minutes before the end of cooking, put the sausages around the turkey or in a separate lightly-oiled tin, if you have no space.
6 To check if the turkey is cooked, insert a skewer into the thickest part of the thigh – the juices should run clear. If they are pinkish, cook for 15 more minutes and test again.
7 Transfer the turkey and sausages to a platter, tightly cover with tin foil and allow to rest for up to thirty minutes before carving. Serve surrounded by vegetables and stuffing balls and garnish with sage and rosemary.
Chef’s Secret: Roast the bird breast-side-down for an incredibly succulent result.
Apricot & Chestnut Stuffing
This is a delicious stuffing that goes amazingly well with turkey. Make extra, for leftovers the next day
- 75g (2.5 oz) butter
- 1 onion, coarsely chopped
- 225g (8oz) fresh white breadcrumbs
- 225g (8oz) pre-soaked dried apricots, cut into small pieces
- 225g (8oz) chestnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 medium egg
- Large bunch of parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C/gas mark 6 (390° F ). Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the onion and sweat until soft but not coloured. Add enough breadcrumbs to get a moist consistency, then fold in the chopped apricots and chestnuts.
2. Beat in the egg to bind the mixture before adding the parsley and a pinch of salt and pepper. Turn into a buttered, shallow oven-proof dish and bake for 25-30 minutes until crisp and hot right through.
The Perfect Gravy
This is an incredible way to achieve smooth, meaty gravy – once you’ve made this, you’ll never look back
- 200ml (7 fl oz) turkey juices or chicken stock
- 500ml (17 fl oz) turkey or chicken stock
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 200ml (7 fl oz) red wine or Madeira
- 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 Drain the juices from the turkey through a sieve into a bowl.
2 Strain the fat from the juice by skimming the surface with a ladle or a large spoon. Mix the red wine or Madeira into the flour until it is blended smoothly.
3 Heat the stock and turkey juices in a pan and add the flour mixture and mustard. Cook over a low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until thickened.
4 When you can’t taste the flour or wine in the gravy, it is cooked!
Take liberties with your portions…after all this is the one day you can stuff your face, sleep it off on the couch and come back for seconds!