The roasties, the gravy, the cranberry sauce, the lovely sides and extra things that adorn the plates and fill the fridge and presses. One of my favourite things about eating at Christmas are the extras.
I asked Chef Gary O’Hanlon from Longford’s Viewmount House (which recently became part of the Blue Book) for some recipes for some extra special festive extras. The delicious things that gild the Christmas lily.
Here he shares his recipes for roast potatoes, brussels sprouts (that even impressed his in-laws) and a cracking recipe for an Espresso Martini.
Goose Fat, Polenta Crusted Maris Piper Roasties
Maris pipers hands-down make the best chips, best baked potatoes and the best roasties. Throw in the flavour from goose fat, herbs and the texture from the polenta and you’ll never make a roastie any other way again.
10 peeled maris piper potatoes
4tbspn fine polents
200ml goose fat
4 sprigs of thyme
3 sprigs of rosemary
Salt and pepper
Cover the potatoes with cold water, season well, and boil gently until just cooked through.
Strain the water, place back in the pot and back on the heat to remove excess moisture.
Give the pot a few stiff shakes, not so much as to break the potatoes in half but enough the ruffle the edges and expose lovely floury bits.
Heat the oil in a roasting tray.
Add the potatoes to the hot oiled roasting tray and turn in the oil.
Season with sea salt and coat in polenta, turn and coat again.
Add in the herbs.
Place in a pre-heated oven at 180C and bake until golden
Turn and repeat. Then serve.
Brussels Sprouts & Rogan’s Whiskey Oak Smoked Bacon Bake in The Little Milk Company Cheddar Mornay with Herb Crust
I hate Brussels Sprouts, I always have and so has my wife Netty, so the challenge for me last Christmas was to create a dish for our first Christmas dinner in our new house and the first one I cooked for my in-laws was to rock out one that added a wee bit of pizzaz to the humble sprout. I came up with this and it was a massive hit. Ireland is blessed with incredible artisanal cheese producers but it’s the mature cheddar from The Little Milk Company that I love in this one. If you have any, I recommend a nice drizzle of a nut oil or truffle oil just prior to baking to really kick it up even another gear.
2 small net bags of Brussels Sprouts
300g Rogans smoked bacon
2 small onions
½ lb butter
1litre whole milk
1 litre of cream
200g The Little Milk Company mature Cheddar (or any other Irish Cheese you wish)
handful of chopped parsley
4 sprigs of chopped fresh thyme
Cut the sprouts across the root and remove any dry or darkened outer leaves.
Split in half through the root.
Drop into well seasoned boiling water and cook until tender but maintaining colour.
Strain and drop into iced water to blanch and refresh, set aside.
In a pot, melt the butter and add the chopped onion.
Sweat without colour, season.
Add the flour, mix well and cook on a low heat for 5 minutes.
Bring the milk to the boil and whisk into the roux.
Mix well then add the cream, bit by bit, until you get a lovely thick milkshake-like consistency.
Dice up the cheese and add to the sauce.
Season with salt and white pepper.
Sauté the bacon in a non-stick frying pan, then add in the sprouts to incorporate some heat.
Now tip the bacon and sprouts into a deep casserole dish and then pour over the Mornay sauce.
Mix the herbs and breadcrumbs together and completely cover the top of the dish.
Place into a pre-heated oven at 180C and bake until golden.
Gary’s Espresso Martini with Cocoa
I have never drank coffee. I simply can’t stomach hot drinks at all but I love the flavour of coffee whether it be in a cake, a sweet or an ice-cream. To get my coffee fix on a recent trip to Lisbon whilst my buddy Frankie Fish was sinking espressos I opted for the more fun Espresso Martini option. We were on holidays after-all. People can make it with different types of alcohol but for me the combination of Havana Rum and Kahlua works best. Top with cocoa powder and if you can find them, chocolate coffee beans for a stunning garnish and chocolate kick.
35ml Havana Rum
1 shot of espresso
½ pint of ice
cocoa powder for dusting
Place the ice in a cocktail shaker.
Add the shot of espresso.
Then add the alcohol, cap and shake vigorously for 40 seconds
Pour through the strainer of the cocktail shaker until you reach the lip of the martini glass.
Dust with cocoa and add some chocolate coffee beans if you can find them.
Happy Christmas and happy cooking!