We wish you a merry Christmas dinner

Celebrities and local chefs share their recipes for the perfect Christmas Dinner. There's Roast Turkey from Neven Maguire, Spiced Beef by Darina Allen as well as alternatives to the traditional feast on December 25.
We wish you a merry Christmas dinner
Roast Turkey by Neven Maguire, from Neven's Perfect Irish Christmas.


THIS is the easiest way to roast a turkey, and fortunately, for many people it’s also the best. Forget about having the time to brine it or trying to turn it over while it cooks — this method is absolutely foolproof.

Ingredients (Serves 10 – 12)

1 x 4.5–5.4kg (10–12lb) oven-ready

turkey (preferably free-range), at

room temperature

1 quantity stuffing

100g (4oz) butter, softened

15–18 rindless streaky bacon


sea salt and freshly ground black


small bunch of fresh herbs (to include parsley, sage and bay leaves), to garnish


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

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.

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.

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 the turkey 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).

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.

This recipe is by Neven Maguire of MacNean House & Restaurant and the Neven Maguire Cookery School.

Neven is an Ambassador for the ‘Simply Better’ Food Collection at Dunnes Stores.

This recipe is taken from his new book Neven’s Perfect Irish Christmas (Gill). See www.nevenmaguire.com


Loin of Venison by David Rice.
Loin of Venison by David Rice.


THIS is a very complicated- looking dish but in a professional kitchen we would prepare all the elements of the dish separately, it is very simple to reproduce at home so please don’t be intimidated and give it a try.

Ingredients (Serves 4)

4 x 150g venison loins trimmed (keep trimmings for sauce)

150g finely grated potaoto

50g finely grated parsnip

50g butter melted

1tsp chopped thyme and 2 sprigs for venison

150g black pudding

1 sheet spring roll

1 egg beaten

100g curly kale

50g diced cooked beetroot

25g butter

2 garlic cloves crushed

1 shallot finely sliced

200ml port

250ml veal stock

50g rasins

salt and pepper


Place an eight inch frying pan on a medium heat. Put the grated potato and parsnip into a tea towel and squeeze out the excess water. Place the mix into a bowl, add in 50g of melted butter, chopped thyme, salt and pepper. Mix everything together and put it in the preheated pan and press the mix down with a pallette knife making a nice even flat pancake. Cook on a medium heat for 5-7 minutes until golden and then flip over and cook on the other side for the same amount of time. Once cooked keepwarm in an oven at 80 degrees.

Using the same pan, turn up the heat, add a splash of oil and add in the venison trimmings, shallots and garlic. Cook on a high heat and get everything golden brown. Pour in the port, BE CAREFUL as the port can flame up. Reduce the port by half and add in the veal stock and reduce again by half, then strain the sauce into a small saucepan, add in the raisins and beetroot, leave aside.

Cut the springroll pastry sheet in half, crumble up the black pudding, divide it into two and roll it into two long cigar shapes. Wrap the pudding in the pastry, sealing it with the beaten egg. Deep fry the cigar at 180c for three to five minutes until golden and keep warm in the oven.

Place a small saucepan on a high heat, fill with one inch of water, add in 25g butter, bring to the boil, trim the kale from the centre stalk and add to the pan, put a lid on it and cook for 3 mins. Remove kale from the pan and set aside.

Finally place a saucepan on a high heat add in a splash of oil. Season the venison with salt and pepper. Place them into the pan and cook on a high heat browning on all sides, the add in a knob of butter, thyme sprig and a crushed garlic clove and baste the venison with the flavoured butter, transfer to a preheated oven, (temperature 200c )and roast for 5-7 mins until the core temperature reaches 50c degress (use a temperature probe for this if you have one). Remove the venison and leave to rest.

While the meat is resting cut the rosti in four strips and place a rosti on each plate, divide the kale onto the plates. Cut the two cigars in half to get four pieces and add to the plates.

Finally, carve the meat and place it on top of the rosti, reheat the sauce and dress the plates.


Spiced Beef by Darina Allen
Spiced Beef by Darina Allen


ALTHOUGH spiced beef is traditionally associated with Christmas, in Cork, it’s available all year round in the English Market.

It may be served hot or cold and is a marvellous standby, because if it is properly spiced and cooked it will keep for three to four weeks in the fridge.

Butchers often have their own ecret recipe. This delicious recipe for spiced beef has been handed down in Myrtle Allen’s family and is the best I know. It includes saltpetre, nowadays regarded as a health hazard, so perhaps you should not live exclusively on it! Certainly people have lived on occasional meals of meats preserved in this way for generations.

This recipe makes enough spice to cure five flanks of beef, each 1.8kg (4lb) approx. in size, and can also be used to spice beef tongues.


1.3 kg–1.8kg (3–4lb) lean flank of beef

Ballymaloe spice for beef

350g (12oz) salt

225g (8oz) Demerara sugar

75g (3oz) whole black pepper

75g (3oz) whole allspice (pimento, Jamaican pepper)

75g (3oz) whole juniper berries

10g (1/2oz) saltpetre (available from chemists)

To serve:

spiced tomato sauce


If you are using flank of beef, remove the bones and trim away any unnecessary fat. Rub the spice well over the beef and into every crevice. Put into an earthenware dish and leave in a fridge or cold larder for 3–7 days, depending on the thickness of the piece of meat, turning occasionally.

(This is a dry spice, but after a day or two some liquid will come out of the meat.) The longer the meat is left in the spice, the longer it will last and the more spicy the flavour.

Just before cooking, roll and tie the joint neatly with cotton string into a compact shape, cover with cold water and simmer in a covered saucepan for 2–3 hours, or until really soft and fully cooked.

The spiced beef should be covered with liquid at all times. If it is not to be eaten hot, press by putting it on a flat tin or into an appropriate sized bread tin. Cover it with a board and weight and leave overnight. Spiced beef will keep for 3–4 weeks in the fridge.

Cut it into thin slices and serve with freshly made salads and homemade chutneys or in sandwiches.

This recipe is from A Simply Delicious Christmas by Darina Allen.

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