A few tips and recipes that will hopefully make your Christmas dinner an easier and delicious experience

Can you believe that it’s almost Christmas already? Are you ready for the big day? It definitely seems like Christmas, here in Claremorris, snow had fallen over the weekend and my kids were busy making their snowman. Back to the food. Are you cooking for many and keeping the menu traditional, yet modern? Here are a few tips and recipes that will hopefully make your Christmas dinner an easier and delicious experience.

Christmas glazed ham

Firstly, the ham. I always cook this on Christmas Eve. I think that I read this recipe in a book a few years ago and adapted it to my own version, anyway, here it is.

Ingredients

One ham, two star anise, two cinnamon sticks, a few cloves, a pinch of all spice, one lemon (halved ), half a pint of orange juice, brown sugar, wholgrain mustard and honey.

Method

Put the ham in a saucepan with the spices, the lemon and the orange juice, then top with water. Bring to the boil and then let it simmer making sure that you keep topping up with boiling water to ensure the ham is cooked. I give it 25minutes per lb and an extra 25 minutes at the end depending on what size ham you have.

When it is cooked, turn it off and cover and leave it to pull in all those spices into the meat overnight.

On Christmas morning, I take the ham out of the liquid, Slice it in half, and score the outside with a knife. Then I put it on a baking tray, rub in the honey and mustard and top with brown sugar. It goes into the oven with a bit of the cooking liquid for about 40 minutes before you serve the main course, easy peasy!

Christmas turkey

I think many people stress too much on how they cook their turkey on Christmas Day. How many times over the year have you cooked a lovely roast Chicken? Is this really any different apart from it being a little bit bigger? Sometimes there may be an issue that the turkey may take up all the space in the oven. That’s easily solved if you (or your butcher ) remove the legs and cook separately.

Get a roasting tray and add a chopped onion and carrot roughly diced on the bottom, place the turkey on top. You can add an orange and maybe a clove of garlic inside the bird for extra flavour and putting butter underneath the skin is always a nice way to keep it moist. Basically, what I do then is add water to the tray, season the skin, and then top with greaseproof paper and tinfoil, and pop it into the hot oven for at least an hour and a half, where it will steam under the foil.

Remove the tinfoil and finish off cooking until it is nicely browned. Check that it is cooked by inserting a knife into the thickest part and if the juices come out clear it is ready. I would then take the turkey out and put it on a chopping board to rest, and cover with tinfoil to keep it hot.

Add some boiling water to the roasting tray to get all the tasty juices from the bottom and then strain into a saucepan to make the gravy.

As soon as the turkey comes out of the oven to rest, I put in the ham to glaze, some small roast potatoes to cook and my carrots on to boil. Sometimes to make things easier I just roast some vegetables to serve with the turkey.

That’s it. Get your guests to help themselves and serve with the stuffing balls and homemade cranberry sauce, from last week’s recipes.

I hope that you all have a lovely Christmas and look forward to sharing more recipes and cooking tips with you in the New Year. I hope that my culinary ideas have somewhat helped make your Christmas dinner a little easier. Next week this paper comes out on Wednesday, so make sure to read my easy Christmas dessert then.

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