Lighter sides to traditional fare
Kevin Dundon:Kevin Dundon of Dunbrody House says Christmas wouldn’t be the same without turkey, so he suggests having a light starter such as soup or seafood.
And for the main course, vegetables can be steamed and while nothing tastes as good as a roast potato, if you want to keep calories down, serve plain boiled or mashed potatoes. However, it’s Christmas – a roastie or two won’t hurt.
Traditional Roast Turkey
1 medium-sized onion
3 cloves of diced garlic
225g sausage meat
3oz/75g fresh cranberries
Zest and juice of one orange
4 tablespoons of chopped herbs (parsley, sage, thyme, rosemary)
450g fresh white breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
7-8 streaky rashers
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas 6. Melt the butter over a very gentle heat.Finely chop the onion and garlic and add to the butter and cook until very gently, softened but not coloured. Add the cranberries during this stage and allow them to sweat off very gently as well. Take off the heat, allow to cool slightly and then add the sausage meat, freshly chopped herbs, orange juice and zest and the breadcrumbs. The mixture should not be too dry as it will lead to a dry stuffing. Season the stuffing and allow it to cool completely before adding it to the bird. The stuffing can be made a couple of days in advance if you wish and even frozen if needs be.
On Christmas morning stuff the turkey. Line the cavity with some tin foil and loosely pack the stuffing into the bird. To get the correct time it is crucial to weigh the turkey again with the stuffing enclosed.
Put the turkey onto a large roasting tray and lay the streaky rashers of bacon across the breast to protect the meat and prevent it from drying out. These can be taken off at a later stage if you wish to colour up the breasts and get a nice crunchy skin (without drying out the meat).
Put the turkey into the oven. After the first 30 minutes reduce the heat to 150 degrees. If you feel the turkey is browning too quickly you can cover it with some tin foil for the first two hours. Allocate 20 minutes per pound and then an additional 20-30 minutes in the oven. In total it should take about 4½ hours. When a skewer is inserted into the meat nearest the bone (the leg) the juices should run completely clear. Allow the meat to rest when it comes out of the oven and carve as required.
Kevin’s Christmas made Easy programme is on RTÉ 1 next Monday, 17th Dec. dunbrodyhouse.com
Catherine Fulvio of Ballyknocken Cookery School says smoked salmon always makes a lovely starter on Christmas Day and it is low in calories. And if the main course is heavy, finish off with a light fruit salad.
Beetroot-cured side of Salmon with Dill Potatoes
For the salmon
1.2kg side of fresh Irish salmon, skinned and boned
2 medium beetroot, scrubbed, trimmed and peeled
2 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
175g light soft brown sugar
120g rock salt
A small bunch of dill, chopped
For the dill potatoes
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
3 large potatoes, diced
2 tsp chopped fresh dill
Crush the fennel seeds and peppercorns in a pestle and mortar. Mix with the sugar and salt. Add half the dill to make a paste. Grate the beetroot and add to all the other ingredients. Place the salmon in a non-metal dish and rub the paste on both sides of the salmon. Cover with cling film. Put a baking tin on top, and weigh down with some heavy weights (ie cans of beans).
Leave in the fridge for at least three days. This will help the beetroot to colour the salmon and for the fish to cure. Brush off the marinade, rinse the fish briefly under cold water and pat dry. Sprinkle with the remaining dill and chill until ready to serve.
To prepare the dill potatoes:
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and sauté the onion for five minutes, adding the garlic and cook for a further two minutes.
Add in the potatoes and cover with the cream. Season with salt and pepper. Add the remaining dill and simmer gently for 10-12 minutes until cooked. Add more salt and pepper if required. Serve warm with the beetroot cured salmon.
Catherine Fulvios new book, Eat Like an Italian, is published by Gill and Macmillan and costs €19.99. catherinefulvio.com