Cork's leading female chefs share alternative mains for Christmas day

Elaine Duggan asked some of Cork's leading female chefs to share some dinner recipes for Christmas day - if you don't fancy turkey! 
Cork's leading female chefs share alternative mains for Christmas day

Roast loin of Wild Venison By The Square Table


THIS recipe is provided by Martina and Tricia Cronin, who run the The Square Table in Blarney.


900g wild venison loin cut into 225g each (serves 4)

20 brussel sprouts

400ml of bacon stock or vegetable stock

20 pieces of bacon lardons

8 chestnuts

4 whole parsnips

50g butter

1 orange

8g grated ginger

6 Juniper berries

400ml milk

100ml cream


Fresh cracked pepper

1 tsp sugar

Cooking oil

For sauce

400ml game stock

200ml veal stock

50ml red wine

15ml cabernet sauvignon vinegar

1 tsp arrowroot powder

1 finely sliced shallot

Spiced parsnip puree method


  • Peel parsnips and slice.
  • Put 25g butter in a pot add sliced parsnips, juniper berries, grated ginger and season with salt and pepper and sweat slowly till soft.
  • Add 400ml milk, 100ml cream bring to the boil and cook for 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Finish with juice and

zest of 1 orange. Blend in liquidizer until smooth and pass through a fine sieve

Venison sauce


  • Put ½ tsp oil in a pot add finely sliced shallots cook until soft.
  • Add 50ml red wine and reduce until dry.
  • Add 400ml game stock, 200ml veal stock and reduce by half.
  • To thicken the sauce only slightly, dissolve.
  • 1tsp of arrowroot in 20ml water and whisk into sauce.
  • Bring to the boil and cook out for 2 minutes and add cabernet sauvignon vinegar. This brings the bitter and sweetness to the sauce which

cuts through the richness of the dish.

Brussels Sprouts are a staple of most Christmas dinner menus. Picture: Stock
Brussels Sprouts are a staple of most Christmas dinner menus. Picture: Stock

Caramelised sprouts and bacon lardons


  • Cut sprouts in half, heat oil in a pan and add sprouts and colour both sides until golden brown, season with salt and pepper.
  • Add 20g butter and 1 tsp sugar to sprouts and toss in pan and take off the heat.
  • Add bacon stock or veg stock to sprouts put in oven at 180 degrees and cook till soft. You will notice the liquid has reduced as sprouts absorb the cooking liquid which enhances the flavour of the sprouts.
  • Fry bacon lardons in a pan till crispy and add to sprouts.
  • Roast chestnuts in 5g of butter.
  • Roast loin of wild venison method.
  • Season loin with salt and cracked black pepper.
  • Heat oil in frying pan make sure pan is hot.
  • Sear the venison loin evenly giving it a good caramelised colour which enhances its flavour.
  • Once seared put in oven at 180 degrees for six minutes (depending on the thickness of the loin). I like to cook mine medium rare but cook to your liking.
  • Allow venison to rest then slice and serve.

Aishling Moore at the Goldie Fish and Ale restaurant, Cork City. Picture: Clare Keogh
Aishling Moore at the Goldie Fish and Ale restaurant, Cork City. Picture: Clare Keogh




This recipe is from Aishling Moore, of Goldie Fish & Ale.

A whole baked fish is a great alternative to turkey for Christmas dinner, delicious and cooks in a fraction of the time! This recipe is for one person.


Whole plaice (about 300g), head, guts and fins removed (you can ask your fishmonger to do this)

5og butter softened

4 sage leaves, chopped

A zest of a clementine

½ clove of garlic


  • Combine butter, sage, clementine and garlic in a bowl.
  • Pre heat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
  • Place the plaice on an oiled piece of baking parchment and add the flavoured butter evenly across the surface of the fish

Bake for 15 minutes.

Braised Feature Blade of Beef by Pamela Kelly, Farmgate, English Market.
Braised Feature Blade of Beef by Pamela Kelly, Farmgate, English Market.


This recipe is from chef Pamela Kelly of the Farmgate, English Market.

Ingredients (Serves 6)

1.2kg whole piece of feather blade

2 medium carrots (roughly chopped)

2 medium onions (roughly chopped)

2 sticks celery

4 sprigs of thyme

1 sprig of rosemary

2 bay leaves

1 bulb of garlic

1 bottle of red wine

1 teaspoon of sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Some oil for frying


Shiitake mushroom and chestnut roast by Meadhbh Halton of Paradiso.
Shiitake mushroom and chestnut roast by Meadhbh Halton of Paradiso.


This recipe is supplied by Head Chef at Paradiso, Meadhbh Halton

Rich in flavor from the classic combination of mushrooms and chestnuts, and bound together with kneaded wheat gluten, this loaf has satisfyingly tender texture that will add that extra special element to your Christmas dinner, even if you’re the only one eating it.

You can prepare it up to three days in advance, and it’ll work great sliced up in some St.

Stephens day sambos. It serves three to four people.

You can buy pre-cooked chestnuts. If using fresh, you will probably need approx 500g before peeling.

Chestnut mushrooms would also work instead of shiitake.

Wheat gluten can be found in most health food shops, such as the Quay Co-Op and Natural Choice Ballyhoura Mountain Mushrooms umami mushroom powder is available through Neighbourfoods.


200g cooked chestnuts 

500g shiitake mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms will also work 

2 parsnips 

4 cloves of garlic 

75g of extra virgin olive oil 

15g nutritional yeast 

15g tomato paste 

15g miso 

1tbs sp mushroom umami powder 

450mil stock small bunch of fresh thyme small bunch of fresh rosemary

150g vital wheat gluten 

4 cloves garlic

1 onion


  • Remove

  Peel and core the parsnips, saving the cores for later.

  Finely chop 2 cloves of garlic.

  In a food processor, finely chop the mushrooms, parsnips, and chestnuts, separately, into small pieces of around 2mm.

  In a pan over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil, add the mushrooms and some salt, and cook until the water from them has evaporated, stirring occasionally.

  When slightly browned, add the parsnips, chestnuts, nutritional yeast, tomato paste and chopped garlic, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring often.

  Remove from the heat and season with black pepper, and more salt if required.

  Combine your stock with the miso paste, mushroom umami powder, sugar, and 1 tsp each of finely chopped thyme and rosemary.

  This next part can be done by hand but is best with a food mixer, using the dough blade.

  In your bowl, combine 150g of the stock mix, the cooked ingredients and the wheat gluten.

  Knead the mixture for 5 minutes at a medium speed to form a dough.

  Preheat the oven to 180c.

  Shape the dough by hand into a loaf shape and place in a roasting dish.

  Around the loaf, add an onion, quartered, 2 cloves of garlic crushed, the parsnip cores, a few stalks of rosemary and thyme, 4 cloves, and the rest of the stock mix.

  Cover tightly with tinfoil and leave to rest for 10 minutes.

  Place the dish in the oven to braise for 40 minutes.

  Remove the foil and place back in the oven for a further 35 minutes. You may want to flip it towards the end to ensure even browning.

  Remove the loaf to a serving dish and cut into slices.

Glazed Ham by Ballymaloe Foods. Picture Joleen Cronin
Glazed Ham by Ballymaloe Foods. Picture Joleen Cronin


Ballymaloe Foods was established by Yasmin Hyde, the daughter of Myrtle Allen 30 years this year. This is a recipe provided by Ballymaloe Foods, using Ballymaloe Ham Glaze.


4-5lbs (1.8-2.25kg) streaky or loin of bacon, either smoked or unsmoked

Whole cloves 20-30 approx.

Ballymaloe Ham Glaze


   Cover the bacon in cold water and bring slowly to the boil, if the bacon is very salty there will be a white froth on top of the water, in this case it is preferable to discard this water. It may be necessary to change the water several times depending on how salty the bacon is, finally cover with hot water and simmer until almost cooked, allow 25-30 minutes approx. to the lb. Remove the rind, cut the fat into a diamond pattern, and stud with cloves.

  Spoon Ballymaloe Ham Glaze Spread all over the bacon. Bake in a fully preheated hot oven, 250°C/475°F/Gas Mark 9 for 20-30 minutes approx. or until the top has caramelized – baste the bacon 3-4 times during this time.

  Remove to a carving dish. Carve in thick slices lengthwise so each slice includes some of the eye of the loin and streaky bacon.

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