The Perfect Christmas Dinner by Richie Wilson with Wine Pairing
Christmas can be stressful for lots of people and the thought of doing dinner for the whole family can fill you with dread. So we have done the preparation for you and asked the master of the roast for his take on the Perfect Christmas Dinner. Head Chef Richie Wilson of Fire Restaurant on Dawson Street has provided us with everything you need to create a festive feast that is bound to impress.
Preparing the Turkey
There are so many different ideas out there for roasting your turkey using butter, bacon etc. but really I think it’s about getting the bird into the best size possible for roasting so that each part of the bird has a chance to cook through without drying another out. This requires a little bit of butchery but afterwards requires no other trickery! It may be better to ask your butcher for a little help with this but he really shouldn’t have a problem doing this for you. You should be asking him for “boneless turkey legs along with the Turkey Crown” (but you want him to give you all the bones and trimmings back).
Firstly ensure you have removed the bag containing the gizzard and neck that would normally be inside the turkey and set that aside, then remove the wish bone; you can set this to one side to dry out if you like to pull it with someone! Now remove the wings at the second joint in. Remove the legs and set aside before removing the crown (this is the two breasts of the bird still attached to the bone) from the carcass. Set the carcass on a roasting tray ready to roast along with all the other bones, from this you can make your stock and then gravy. Now remove the bone from the legs and try to remove as many sinews as possible. (Keep all of these bones and trimmings for the Turkey Stock.)
Preparing the Stuffing
– 450g Sausage Meat
– 200g Cooked, Peeled and Chopped Chestnuts
– 100g Breadcrumbs
– 1 Large Finely chopped Onion
– 25g Unsalted Butter
– 10g Chopped Sage
– 20g Chopped Parsley
– Ball of String
To prepare the stuffing begin by gently frying the onion in a pan along with the sage for about 5-6 minutes, or until very soft, but do not colour them. Now add the butter to the pan and once it has melted set this to one side to cool. In a mixing bowl add the sausage meat, chestnuts, bread crumbs and parsley. Season with just a little pepper, no salt as you are using sausage meat which contains quite a lot of salt. Mix this well and once the onions have cooled mix them through as well.
I like to stuff each leg at a time but it is possible to place one leg on the bottom, stuffing on top and the second leg on top of that, tying the whole lot up into one big joint. I think it is best to stuff each leg as an individual roast and from a timing point of view this is best for having everything ready at the same time. Once you have stuffed, rolled and tied each leg, it is best to wrap them well in foil before placing in the oven.
Making the Turkey Stock
– 4lt Water
– 1 Chopped Onion
– 2 Chopped Carrot
– 5 Chopped Celery Sticks
– 10g Fresh Thyme
– 10g Fresh Parsley
– 10 Peppercorns
You can make up your turkey stock the day before or immediately after you have prepared the turkey for roasting.
Roast all of the bones and trimmings with the contents of the bag from within the turkey; this would generally be the neck and gizzard. Roast them all on a high heat until they are a dark brown in colour. Remove from the oven and strain off excess fat. Place everything from the roasting tray into a large pot and set aside. Place the roasting tray over the heat on the stove and add some water. Now wash the roasting tray using a wooden spoon and the water until all the caramelized juices have dissolved in the water, and add the water from the tray to the pot of bones.
Add in the chopped onion, carrot, thyme, parsley and celery. Add more water to the pot just to cover everything. Bring this to the boil and reduce to a simmer for about 2 hours, ensure the water is topped up a little if necessary. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Allow the stock to cool for an hour before placing in the fridge over night. The following day the fat will have settled and can easily be removed before using in the gravy.
On the Big Day
I like to cook my turkey on Christmas Day. I know that once I have broken the bird down as described above it’s not going to take mine more than and hour and a half to cook. I love the smells in the house and it looks great when it arrives to the table. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Place the crown on a large deep roasting tray. Season the meat well and drizzle a little oil all over the skin. Place this in the hot oven for 15 minutes before reducing the heat to 160 degrees. This will seal the outside of the bird keeping all those juices in side. You can now place the legs into the oven as well.
A time guideline for a Turkey Crown (the weight of the crown alone) is 20 minutes per Kilo plus 15 at the end but as ovens vary so much the single best way to know if your turkey is cooked is to use a meat thermometer, ensuring that a core temperature of 75 degrees is reached for at least 2 minutes. Use the time guide as just that, a guide, and give yourself plenty of time at the end before you intend to serve. This will allow you to cook it a little longer if necessary or just give it time to rest before carving if it is cooked through. The legs should take the same amount of time to cook as the crown but again check them with a thermometer to be sure.
For the Gravy
– 2ltr Turkey Stock
– 150g Unsalted Butter
– 250g Plain Flour
– 2tbsp Cider Vinegar
Once the turkey has been cooked, pour the pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl (do not clean the roasting tray) then skim off and discard the fat. Place the roasting pan over the stove heat as you did for the turkey stock above. Add some of the stock and deglaze the roasting tray by boiling over high heat while stirring and scraping up brown bits. Pour into your bowl of pan juices and add enough turkey stock to pan juices bringing the total amount to 2ltrs.
Melt the butter in a large heavy pot and stir in flour. Cook what is now a roux over moderate heat, stirring continuously for 2-3 minutes. Add the stock mixture in a stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then bring to a boil, whisking occasionally. Stir in any turkey juices accumulated from resting and simmer for 5 minutes. Season your gravy with salt and pepper, then stir in cider vinegar to taste. This will bring the gravy to life.
For the Glazed Ham
– 1 Whole Ham
– A Few Cloves
– 1 Chopped Onion
– A Few Bay Leaves
– 200g Brown Sugar
– 2tsp Mustard Powder
– 200ml Beer (Dark Beer like Smithwicks)
Some people, including my Mum, like to soak the ham over night in a large pot of cold water to help remove some of the salt. I think that the hams today don’t require this as they don’t contain the same volume of phosphate as days gone by, but the choice is yours. Regardless of whether you soak it or not the ham needs to be boiled for quite some time and so this should be done on Christmas Eve, early in the morning. This will allow the ham time to cook and cool before you can place it in the fridge before going to bed!
Place a plate or something similar at the bottom of the pot before putting in the ham, this will keep it off the hot surface at the bottom. Place in the ham with the other ingredients for boiling, ensuring the ham is totally covered in water at all times. Allow this to simmer for 40 minutes per kilo plus 20 more. Once again though, use the thermometer to be sure. Take great care when removing from the pot not to allow it to break up. Gently set the ham onto a roasting tray and using a sharp knife remove the outer skin. You should leave most of the fat which should melt over the ham as you roast it.
Now kris cross the fat with the knife all over the surface. Where each line crosses, stud with a clove. Now mix all the glaze ingredients together in a bowl and use a spoon or brush to spread half of the mix over the ham. Now place in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for 15 minutes before spreading the remaining glaze over and returning to the oven. Over the next fifteen minutes continue to spoon the juices from the bottom of the roasting tray over the ham every five minutes. Cook until golden brown and allow to rest for at least 30 minutes before carving.
– 500g Spouts, Clean and Crossed (allow about 50g per person)
– 150g Smoked Bacon Lardons
– 50g Butter
– Olive Oil
Place the sprouts in a pot of cold, salted water and bring to a simmer for about 12 minutes. The sprout should still have a little bite in the centre. Fry the smoked bacon in a hot pan until golden brown, then reduce the heat and add the butter with the cooked sprouts. Toss the sprouts in the pan for a minute or two before serving.
– 1 Potato per person
– 1 tin Duck Fat
Firstly peel the potatoes, I think roosters are best for this. Then turn them, meaning cut them into barrel type shapes. Bring to the boil in salted water and simmer for 5 minutes before straining. Place the goose fat in a roasting tray and then into an oven at 180 degrees until the fat is very hot. Now add the potatoes to the fat taking care not to splash your self. Return to the oven and roast until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes.
Honey Roasted Vegetables
– 250g Peeled Carrots
– 250g Peeled Parsnips
– 250g Peeled Turnips
– 20g Chopped Thyme
– 40g Honey
– Olive Oil
Peel and cut all the vegetables into similar size sticks or batons. Place in a tray along with the remaining ingredients and mix well before placing in a preheated oven at 180 degrees for 20 minutes. The veg should still have a little bite to it at the end of cooking.
– 1 large Onion
– 1 Bay Leaf
– 8 Cloves
– 5-6 Black Pepper Corns
– 600ml Milk
– 80ml Cream
– 50g Butter
– A little fresh nutmeg
– Salt and Pepper
Peel the onion and stud with the cloves, place in a pot along with the peppercorns and milk. Bring this to a simmer and allow to stand for about an hour with the heat off to allow the flavors to come through into the milk. Now strain into a clean pot, squeezing as much juice from the onion as you can. Bring this back to a gentle simmer and gradually add the bread crumbs, stirring all the time to avoid lumps. Once all the crumbs are added, allow to simmer very gently, stirring all the time until the sauce becomes quite thick. Now add the cream and butter while still mixing and check the seasoning. If you wish to make this the day before you can but do not add the cream until the time of serving. Bring the cream to a simmer in a pot before adding the sauce to it, mixing well until warm through for serving.
– 500g Fresh Cranberries
– 500g Sugar
– 300ml Water
– 300ml Fresh Orange Juice
– 1 Cinnamon Stick
In a pot bring the sugar, water, juice and cinnamon to the boil and allow to simmer for about five minutes. Add the cranberries and simmer for a further 10 minutes or until the sauce becomes quite thick. Make sure you check the flavor in the sauce, it should be a little tart but add more sugar if necessary before serving.
Our recommended Wine Pairing for this Recipe
Cusumano Etna Rosso €22.99
100% Nerello Mascalese
I love the nose on this wine. There is a slight wildness to it, with notes of bramble fruits, cherry, red liquorice and earthy undertones.
On the palate you have some earthy, fruity tones along with black cherries and a touch of pepper. It has a soft smooth but structured body from the large oak barrels. The tannin is fine with minimal grip.
This is a wine with true Italian refinement and will pair well with this beautiful feast. This red will work with the turkey as you have sauces and earthy vegetables accompanying it so you need a wine with more body and stronger flavour to balance it out.
Available from O’Brien’s Wines Nationwide or Online.
Richie has been working in the food industry for 20 years and has been an Executive Chef for the past 8 years. Prior to his appointment at Fire, he was Executive Chef of The Clyde Court and Ballsbridge Hotels, The Burlington Hotel, The Morrison Hotel and The Hilton Hotel Dublin.
He has brought with him his dedication to Irish produce and artisan producers to create his own ideas of what modern Irish food should be.