Insider Tips for Festive Feasting

18/12/2019

Following a hectic run of Christmas parties serving over 20,000 festive plates, we finally caught up with Croke Park chef Rúairí Boyce before he hung up his Christmas party apron.

Rúairí’s Christmas fayre is all about honest to goodness tradition - here’s his lowdown on festive feasting and a reminder that too many cooks do not spoil the Christmas broth! Put your chefs hat on and delegate away - especially the potato peeling and washing up!

No 1: Buying and Preparing the Bird

  • You don’t want to spend your entire Christmas Day in the kitchen, so ask your butcher to remove your turkey’s legs, stuff, bone and roll them - this will also speed up cooking time.
  • Buy a cooking thermometer pen - it takes all the guess work, and any risk of over or under cooking out.
  • Preparation is key - make a prep list and stick to it when you shop.

No 2: Cooking the Bird & Preparing the Trimmings

  • Start your roasting by turning the turkey breast-side down for the first hour of roasting. This means the bird essentially bastes itself. If you can manage to turn it a few times throughout the cooking process it will encourage the juices to stay inside.
  • Basting is the key! Take turkey from oven 20/30 minutes before main course is to be served. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the bird. This is called resting. Don’t worry, it won’t go cold!
  • Do all your veg prep (washing, peeling, chopping) in advance. This can be done the day before and left in water on the range overnight.
  • Alternatively, you can blanch all your root vegetables the day before. Plunge your prepared veg into boiling salted water, bring back to the boil for 2 minutes, then refresh with cold running water. Then season up, add a good dollop of butter (and honey if you like), and store in you fridge overnight. This means you simply pop into the oven minutes before you want to eat.

No 3: Other Things to Remember

  • Store any leftovers in your fridge within 90 minutes of cooking. This will reduce any waste (see recipes for leftover food below).
  • Put your drinks outside the back door - trust me they’ll be cold enough. Remove your cheeses from the fridge 2 hours prior to allow them reach optimum room temperature.
  • A nice big dollop of redcurrant jelly or cranberry sauce into your gravy glams it up.

No 4: Tasty ideas for the Leftovers

  • Turkey Noodle Soup - yummy and good for you!
  • Ham Frittata - A great breakfast for St. Stephen’s Day and good to feed a crowd.
  • Turkey Enchiladas - Swap out beef mince for your shredded turkey 
  • Potato and Ham Hash / Rosti. Grated potato with shredded ham. Try with a fried egg on top. Delicious.
  • Ham and Cheese Croquettes
  • Kale & Ham Carbonara  - Creamy pasta, parmesan, shredded Christmas ham, and the goodness of fresh kale.
  • Ham and Cheese Croque Monsieur - a French classic! Try it with a poached egg on top to create Croque Madame.
  • Sprout, Pine Nut & Turkey Stir Fry - garlic, lemongrass, sesame & soy for a real authentic Asian flavour.
  • Red wine ice cubes (in the unlikely event of there being any leftover)
  • Festive Pie

Happy Feasting and Happy Christmas from all the team at Croke Park Meetings & Events

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