Paul Flynn: Perk up this year’s turkey with some Moroccan spices

This champ goes perfectly with the ham while the parsnip cake is certain to please vegetarians

Roast Turkey crown, ras-al-hanout, carrots, dates and almonds; parsnip cake; and Brussels sprout and apple champ. Photograph: Harry Weir

Roast Turkey crown, ras-al-hanout, carrots, dates and almonds; parsnip cake; and Brussels sprout and apple champ. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

This year, for the first time ever, we are taking Christmas Eve off work. It is usually a massively busy day. Traditionally, the same families have congregated in the Tannery on that day every year for lunch. For Máire and I, both huge fans of Christmas, it’s always quite stressful as we have to get ready for Christmas at our own home as well.

It’s a full house all round, but we always manage it. Last Christmas Eve was a particular doozie as the breakfast chef decided to go on the razz the night before and had a lie in. I got the dreaded early morning call, made all the worse as I was up late entertaining our visitors the night before. I was definitely the grumpiest chef in Ireland that day.

I always love seeing our customers. Many have become friends over the years, but this year we want to have the time with our children to savour the atmosphere. Who knows, we might even go out for lunch.

It pains me to say it, but there might be more people cooking for just two this year, even with the relaxing of pandemic regulations. The thought of grannies and grandads being on their own is heartbreaking. Ours are such a fundamental part of our children’s lives, we can’t even imagine it.

I’m perking the turkey up this year with some Moroccan spices. I’m also just cooking a crown, as many will have fewer people to cook for. The spices give way to full-on Moroccan flavours underneath the bird, and the carrots cook in the dripping turkey juices. It’s for people who want something just a little different. Ras-al-hanout, readily available, is a gentle spice blend. Be not afraid.

For the non-meat eaters, I have a parsnip cake. You can substitute the parsnips for something else if you prefer. Beetroot would be good,but you will need to roast the beetroot beforehand.

This champ is a regular on the Tannery’s menu at Christmas, and at our home too. I’m not a fan of too many types of veg on the plate. Champ allows you to do a two-in-one. It will also go perfectly with the ham the next day.

Finally, in last week’s recipe for potato terrine with smoked bacon and dried fruit, the timing and oven temperature  were incorrect. The terrine should be baked  in the oven at 160 degrees Celsius for 90 minutes.

ROAST TURKEY CROWN, RAS-AL-HANOUT, CARROTS, DATES AND ALMONDS

Roast turkey crown, ras-al-hanout, carrots, dates and almonds. Photograph: Harry Weir
Roast turkey crown, ras-al-hanout, carrots, dates and almonds. Photograph: Harry Weir

Serves six
Ingredients
2kg turkey crown
1 tbsp ras-al-hanout spice mix
Zest of half an orange
1 tsp thyme leaves
Salt and black pepper
140g soft butter
20ml chicken stock
6 medium carrots
3 tbsp olive oil
2 bay leaves
Juice of 1 orange
100g whole blanched almonds
8 medjool dates, stoned and quartered

Method
1
Set the oven to 185 degrees.

2 Add the ras-al-hanout, orange, thyme, salt and pepper into the butter and mix well.

3 With your fingers, or a spatula, gently loosen the skin from the meat of the turkey, taking care not to tear it.

4 Push the butter underneath the skin, making sure all the meat is covered.  Leave some butter for the outside of the bird and smear it all over the skin.

5 Place the turkey on a high trivet in the centre of a deep roasting tray. This will allow the carrots to go underneath later.

6 Pour the chicken stock into the roasting tin, cover the turkey with foil and cook for one hour. Meanwhile, peel and top the carrots, then cut them at an angle, one centimetre thick, then set aside.

7 Remove the foil from the bird, baste it well, then add the carrots, olive oil and bay leaves to the tray and put back in the oven.

8 Cook the turkey for 25 minutes uncovered. It should be golden with a light spicy crust. 

9 Remove it from the tray, along with the trivet, then cover with foil and allow to rest.

10 Add the orange juice and the almonds to the carrots, then return the tray to the oven for 20 minutes, turning the carrots once or twice. 

11 When the carrots are soft, and the almonds golden, add the dates and stir through. 

12 Slice the turkey and serve with the glazed carrots, almonds and sprout champ.

PARSNIP, SESAME AND RED ONION CAKE, MINTED CRANBERRY YOGHURT

Photograph: Harry Weir
Photograph: Harry Weir

Serves six 
Ingredients
1 medium parsnip, peeled, topped and chopped into 2cm chunks
1 large red onion, peeled and cut into six
2 sprigs of thyme
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp maple syrup, plus more for drizzling
200g flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
Zest of half orange
80g butter, plus extra for greasing
400ml natural yoghurt
100g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
100ml olive oil, plus more for drizzling
4 medium eggs
2 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp dried cranberries
A few leaves of fresh mint, shredded

Method
1
Set the oven to 180 degrees.

2 Grease and line a 25cm loose bottomed cake tin.

3 Put the parsnips, red onion and thyme onto a roasting tin. Season, then drizzle over the maple syrup and a little olive oil, making sure everything is coated nicely.

4 Put in the oven for 20 minutes, turning once or twice, and roast until lightly golden and nearly cooked.

5 In a medium bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and orange zest and set aside.

6 In a mixer, cream the butter, two tablespoons of the yoghurt, Parmesan and olive oil until pale and very fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until smooth then fold in the dry ingredients until combined.

7 Spoon the mixture into the lined cake tin then lay the parsnips and red onion evenly over the top and scatter the sesame seeds over the top.

8 Bake the cake for 40-45 minutes until the centre is firm to the touch. Drizzle with a little more maple syrup, then let the cake cool before removing from the tin.

9 To make the dressing, pour boiling water over the cranberries and let them sit for 15 minutes to plump up. Drain and gently squeeze all the water from them. Then mix them with the remaining yoghurt and mint and chill until serving.

10 To serve, warm the cake then spoon the dressing over the top.  

BRUSSELS SPROUT AND APPLE CHAMP

Serves six to eight

Brussels sprout and apple champ. Photograph: Harry Weir
Brussels sprout and apple champ. Photograph: Harry Weir

Ingredients
400g Brussels sprouts
1.5 kg peeled potatoes
250ml milk
100ml cream
100g butter
Salt and white pepper
A pinch of nutmeg (optional)
1 eating apple (peeled and finely diced)

Method
1
Trim the sprouts then cut them in half if they are small and into quarters if they are large.

2 Put a medium pot of lightly salted water to boil then cook the sprouts for 2-3 minutes until they start to soften, drain then refresh under cold water.

3 Remove any excess water then set aside (this can be done in advance).

4 Cut the potatoes into even pieces then put on to boil. When cooked, drain and mash them.

5 Heat the milk and cream then add it to the potatoes along with the butter, salt and pepper and nutmeg.

6 When ready to serve, add the sprouts and apple to the potatoes, then warm everything together over a low heat until the sprouts are hot. Serve immediately.

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