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An Irish Christmas - Food for the Feast
by Bridget Haggerty
Every Christmas, my parents put the same delectable dinner on the table - delectable that is, if you don't count the parsnips. When we were old enough to serve ourselves, the rule was that you ate whatever you took; my dad loved roast parsnips, so mum would mix in a few with the roast potatoes. Only problem was that, when they were all nicely browned, you couldn't tell them apart.
There would be at least one groan of dismay as a sibling bit into what he or she thought was one thing and it turned out to be the dreaded other. However, while the folks usually held fast to the rule, on Christmas they relaxed it and allowed us to trade with Dad. Phew!
Early on Christmas morning, my parents were always up before we were. While my mother prepped the goose, my dad boiled his little bit of bacon. Here is the menu for a dinner which was usually on the table between noon and 1 pm; it's followed by mine, which is very different.:
Roast Goose with Potato-Apple Stuffing
(Recipe is included at the end of this article)
Roast Potatoes & Parsnips
Boiled Bacon which, as I recall, tasted more like smoked ham
Crusty bread & butter
For dessert, we had pudding served with a sprig of holly in the top. There'd be great excitement amongst the children as we searched through our portions, looking for the lucky threepenny bit.
Several hours later, after the Queen's speech at 3:00 p.m., the Christmas Cake would make its appearance. Mom and Dad had theirs with a drop of port, we had ours with a cup of tea.
While I would love to cook a goose as my mother did, I live in the United States and Christmas is so close to Thanksgiving that my family insists on a rib roast with Yorkshire pudding. It doesn't sound very Irish, but friends tell me that it's a popular choice in Ireland today, as is turkey and all the trimmings.
However, they still serve the dinner around noon as my parents did and they also listen to the Queen's speech at 3 pm even in the Republic, where they often make good-natured fun of whatever she says.
As for my own family feast, we usually eat around 6 pm - but we have carried one tradition over from my childhood. Right after we say grace, we have a toast and then everyone pulls a Christmas cracker. There's always a funny hat inside each one, so they're put on and then we proceed to the business at hand - pure out and out over-indulgence!
Standing rib roast and au jus gravy
Yorkshire pudding (Recipe follows)
For dessert, my family likes pie, so I usually bake a mince, an apple and a pumpkin. I will also make a trifle with Irish Mist which got rave reviews last year. I've included the recipe for that, too. Dessert is normally served with after-dinner liqueurs and coffee. Must be the Irish in him, because with his apple pie and a slice of extra sharp Canadian cheddar cheese, my husband likes a drop of port just as my dad did!
Roast Goose with Potato and Apple Stuffing
This recipe is adapted from Darina Allen's Festive Foods of Ireland cookbook. Ms. Allen runs the world-renowned Ballymaloe Cookery School in Co. Cork.
1 goose weighing about 10lbs with giblets, neck, heart and gizzard. Note that while a goose looks quite big, it has a large cavity, so allow 1lb of uncooked weight per person.
1 small onion
Bouquet garni consisting of 1 sprig of thyme, 3 or 4 parsley stalks, a small piece of celery and 6 or 7 peppercorns
Roux, if desired, for thickening
2 lbs potatoes
1/2 stick butter
1 lb onions
1 lb Granny Smith cooking apples, peeled and chopped
1 tbs chopped parsley
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon balm
salt and freshly ground pepper
Scrub potatoes and boil in salt water until cooked. Drain water and mash potatoes, including skins. Melt butter and simmer onions in covered saucepan over gentle heat for 5 minutes. Add apples and cook until they break down into a fluff then stir in the mashed potatoes and herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Allow to get quite cold before stuffing goose.
Remove giblets, neck, heart and gizzard from goose cavity. Put goose into large saucepan with giblets, onion, carrot, bouquet garni and peppercorns. Cover with cold water, bring to a boil and simmer for about 2 hours.
Remove bird from stock, pat dry and place in roasting pan. Strain stock and store in refrigerator until it's time to make the gravy.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season goose cavity with salt and pepper and fill with cold stuffing. Sprinkle sea-salt over breast and rub into skin. Roast for 2 to 2-1/2 hours. During roasting, pour off excess fat three or four times. (Store fat in refrigerator it keeps for months and is wonderful for roasting or sauteing potatoes).
To test whether goose is cooked, prick the thigh at thickest part. If the juices that run out are clear, it's ready. If they're pink, it needs a little longer. When bird is cooked, remove to a large oven-proof platter and place in oven on low heat to keep warm while you make the gravy.
Pour or spoon off remaining fat in pan. Add about 2 cups of strained giblet stock to roasting pan. Bring to a boil, and, using a small whisk, scrape the pan well to dissolve any meaty deposits. Taste for seasoning and if desired, thicken with a little roux. If the gravy seems weak, boil for a few minutes to concentrate the flavor. It if seems too strong, add a little more water or stock. Serves 8 to 10.
This recipe is adapted from The New York Times Cookbook edited by Craig Claiborne.
1 cup of whole milk
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F
Beat the eggs with the milk
Sift together flour and salt. Stir into egg mixture
Beat batter until well blended
Discard most of the fat from the pan in which the beef was roasted
Heat an 11x7 baking pan and pour into it 1/4 cup of beef drippings
Pour in egg mixture and bake for ten minutes
Reduce oven to 350 degrees F and bake 15 to 20 minutes longer, or until puffy and delicately browned.
Cut into squares and serve immediately with roast beef. Serves 6 to 8.
Irish Mist Trifle
This is adapted from a recipe for Irish Whiskey Trifle which appears in Classic Irish Recipes, a cookbook by Georgina Campbell.
1/2 cups whole milk
1 vanilla pod or a few drops of pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp Lemon flavoring
1/3 cup Hot water
3/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Salt 1 tsp
1 1/2 tsp
Double acting baking powder
1 1/4 cup White cake flour
1 8-oz jar All-Fruit Raspberry Preserves
1/2 cup Irish Mist
1 small container of fresh raspberries (or frozen - thawed and drained)
1 16-oz can of apricots in fruit juice, drained
1 cup heavy cream
Blanched almonds, fresh raspberries and slices of kiwi fruit to decorate.
Make the sponge on the day before you plan to serve the trifle
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 8x8 inch pan.
2. Blend flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.
3. Beat eggs electric mixer in small bowl until very thick and lemon colored; pour into large bowl. Gradually beat in sugar. Slowly blend in water, vanilla, and lemon flavoring on low speed. Quickly blend in dry ingredients; mix thoroughly. Pour into prepared pan and put in oven immediately. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean; do no
Make the custard. Pour the milk into a pan and bring it almost to a boil. Remove from the heat. Whisk the eggs and sugar together lightly in a bowl. Gradually whisk the milk into the egg mixture. Rinse out the pan with cold water, return to mixture to it and stir over very low heat until the mixture thickens. Do not allow it to boil. Turn the custard into a bowl and add vanilla extract to taste. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin forming.
Assembling the trifle
Halve the sponge cake horizontally. Our good friend, Jane FitzGerald, recommends using dental floss - it is easier and faster than a serrated knife.
Spread with raspberry jam and make a sandwich. Cut into slices and arrange them on the bottom and around the sides of a large glass dessert bowl. Sprinkle generously with Irish Mist. Cut the apricots into quarters and mix lightly with the raspberries. (Reserve a handful of raspberries for decorating the top). Spread the fruit over the sponge cake to make as even a layer as possible. Pour on the custard, cover and then chill.
Right before serving, whip the cream, spread it over the custard layer and then decorate with blanched almonds, the reserved fresh raspberries and slices of kiwi fruit. Serves 6 to 8.
Photo Credit: Jump Into Ireland/Carton House
Rib Roast MontanaRange.com
Trifle from TasteofGourmet.com
Irish Trifle Recipe adapted from Classic Irish Recipes
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Wed, Feb 26, 2014
"...the freshest of food and
the oldest of drink"
- Irish Proverb
The New Irish Table
by Margaret Johnson
Margaret Johnsons love of Ireland permeates page after glorious page of mouthwatering Irish dishes, from Smoked Salmon Chowder to Raspberry Buttermilk Tarts. Lavish color photographs of the food, the landscapes, and the people are woven through the text, making The New Irish Table the next best thing to sitting down to dinner in Ireland itself.
Click here for New Irish Table.