Serve up with style with Neven Maguire's recipes for Christmas

The Irish chef pulls out all the stops for the perfect Christmas feast

Serve up with style with Neven Maguire's recipes for Christmas

[Neven Maguire]

As one of Ireland's best known chefs, Neven Maguire and his MacNean House restaurant in Cavan is known for combining the best of Irish ingredients with the boldest flavours, creating dishes that everyone would like to see on their plate at Christmas.

This Christmas Eve, Neven will join Bobby on a special festive edition of Down to Business, to talk about his career, his cooking, and what's to come in 2017. Tune in to the show from 10am.

Chestnut, Wild Mushroom AND BACON SOUP

Serves 8-10


  • 50g (2oz) dried wild mushrooms
  • 1 tbsp Donegal rapeseed oil
  • 450g (1lb) peeled chestnuts, chopped (canned or vacuum-packed)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 100g (4oz) piece smoked bacon, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 litres (2 pints) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 200ml (7fl oz) cream
  • Maldon salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Lightly whipped cream and snipped fresh chives, to garnish


Place the dried wild mushrooms in a heatproof bowl and pour 400ml (14fl oz) of boiling water to cover. Set aside for 20 minutes until they have plumped up. Drain the mushrooms and gently squeeze dry, reserving the soaking liquid.

Heat a large pan and add the rapeseed oil. Add the chestnuts, bacon, onion and drained wild mushrooms and sweat gently for 10 minutes until golden brown, stirring occasionally. Season to taste.

Add the thyme to the pan with the reserved soaking liquid and stock, stirring to combine. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for another 20 minutes. Stir in the cream and allow to heat through for 1 minute, then whizz with a hand blender until as smooth as possible. Season to taste and ladle into warmed wide-rimmed bowls. Garnish each one with a little drizzle of whipped cream and a sprinkling of chives. Serve at once.


Serves 6-8

  • 5kg (11lb) butterfly turkey or breast (bone out)
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 rindless smoked bacon rashers

For The Citrus Harissa Butter

  • Zest of 1 Orange
  • Zest of 1 lemon·        
  • 75g Softened butter        
  • 1 clove of garlic crushed        
  • 2 tsp harissa paste        
  • 1 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley        
  • 2 tsp chopped thyme

For The Buttermilk Brine

  • 2 litres (3 ½ pints) buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp Maldon sea salt (or kosher)
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 oranges, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic bulb, separated into cloves and sliced
  • 15g (1/2oz) fresh rosemary sprigs, roughly bruised

For The Gravy

  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 450ml (3/4 pint) turkey or chicken stock


Mix all the ingredients together in turkey bag for the buttermilk brine and add the turkey crown. Tie up the bag securely and place in the salad drawer at the bottom of the fridge for up to 2 days is best but at least 24 hours.

To make the butter beat the butter until soft and add in the harissa paste. Add in the zest of the lemon, orange zest, garlic, parsley and thyme. Beat until well combined and refrigerate until needed.

When ready to cook the turkey reheat the oven to 190C (375F), Gas mark 5.

To prepare the turkey crown remove the turkey crown from the brine and drain off any excess liquid, then pat the skin of the turkey dry with kitchen paper. Gently loosen the neck flap away from the breast, pack the harissa butter right under the skin, this is best using gloves on your hands, rub into flesh of turkey well, then recover with skin and secure with a small skewer or sew with fine twine, then cover the top with the rashers.

Place the prepared turkey crown in the oven and calculate your time, 20 minutes per 450g (1lb) plus 20 minutes.  The turkey crown will cook much quicker, so make sure to keep basting; you can cover with foil if it’s browning too quickly.  When cooked cover with foil to rest and keep warm. Drain away all but three tablespoons of the cooking juices and reserve. Skim all the fat from the cooking juices, then pour off all but three tablespoons juices from the roasting tin. Stir the flour into the pan residue and cook, stirring over a low heat until golden. Stir in the onion and thyme and then gradually pour in the stock, stirring all time. Bring to the boil, and let bubble for 2-3 minutes until thickened and the onion has cooked through. Season to taste and, then strain through a sieve and keep warm.

To serve, carve the turkey crown into slices and arrange on warmed plates with the roast potatoes and vegetables. Pour the gravy into a warmed gravy jug and hand around separately and serve with cranberry sauce.



  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp chopped sage and thyme
  • 2oz pine nuts, toasted
  • 6oz fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 3oz butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped dried apricots
  • 1 tbsp dried cranberries

Melt butter in pan and cook onions for a few minutes until they soften. Add the herbs, apricots, cranberries and pine nuts. Mix well, and stir the mixture into the white bread crumbs, again mixing well. It’s now ready to use and stuff the turkey or you can wrap in buttered tin foil, roll into a large sausage shape and place in the oven to cook for approx. 25 mins.

This can be made up to 4 days ahead and stored in the fridge.



  • 200 ml apple Juice
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tbsp port
  • 1 eating apple, peeled and diced
  • ½ bag fresh cranberries


Put all the ingredients save the apple and cranberries in a stainless steel saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the apple and cook for a further minute until the apple is soft then add the cranberries and cook until they have burst and are cooked through. Pour into sterilized jars and allow to cool.

This can be made up to 3 weeks ahead.


Serves 10–12


  • 5.25kg (11lb) leg of gammon (on the bone and skin on)
  • 4 celery sticks, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 1 bunch of fresh thyme
  • 1tbsp black peppercorns


  • 200ml (7floz) Irish whiskey
  • 200ml (7floz) maple syrup
  • 2tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 2tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1tsp ground allspice
  • 1tsp whole cloves


Place the gammon in a large pan and cover with cold water. Leave to soak for at least 6 hours or overnight is best, and then drain. Weigh the gammon joint and calculate the cooking time, allowing 20 minutes per 450g (1lb) plus 20 minutes – a 5.25kg (11lb) joint should take about 4 hours. Place in a large pan, cover with water and bring to the boil, skimming off any scum. Add the celery, onions, thyme and peppercorns and return to the boil, then cover, reduce the heat and simmer until completely tender, occasionally skimming off any scum that rises to the top. If you aren’t sure the gammon is properly cooked, check the bone end – it should come away freely from the gammon joint. Drain and leave until its cool enough to handle.  The ham can be cooked 2 days ahead and stored in the fridge and glazed Christmas morning. 

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F/gas mark 4). Carefully peel away the skin, leaving the layer of white fat intact. Using a sharp knife, score the fat diagonally to make a diamond pattern, being careful not to cut into the meat.

Place the whiskey in a pan with the maple syrup, redcurrant jelly, balsamic vinegar and ground allspice. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 10 minutes, until slightly thickened. Stud the ham with the cloves and place in a large roasting tin with a little water to prevent the bottom from catching and burning. Brush a layer of the syrup all over the ham, reserving the remainder. Cook for 1 hour, brushing over another layer of the glaze every 15 minutes, until it’s all gone. Remove the cooked ham from the oven, transfer to a serving platter and leave to rest for 15 minutes. This glaze can be made up to a month ahead.

Season to taste and set aside to allow the flavours to develop. To serve, carve slices from one side of the ham, cutting diagonally to achieve an even thickness. When you reach the bone, insert the knife at a flatter angle and slice across the top of the bone. Turn over the leg to carve slices from the other sides. Arrange on serving plates with spoonfuls of the pineapple salsa.

MacNean Coole swan & ORANGE CHOCOLATE Truffles


  • 100ml cream
  • 250g (9oz) plain chocolate, broken into squares (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 10g butter
  • 4 tbsp Coole Swan
  • Zest of 1 orange

For The Coating:

  • 225g (8oz) plain chocolate, broken into squares (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • Cocoa powder, for dusting
  • Pistachio Nut Crumb
  • Toasted Desiccated Coconut


Place the cream in a pan bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, then whisk in the chocolate and butter until smooth and melted. Stir in the Coole Swan and transfer to a bowl. Leave to cool completely, whisking every 20 minutes so that the butter will be evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with clingfilm and chill for 2–3 hours, until set firm, stirring occasionally to present a skin from forming.

When the mixture is cold and set, use a melon baller to scoop it into 1.75cm (3/4in) balls. Make sure to dip the melon baller in hot water to give the chocolate mixture a better shape. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with non-stick parchment paper.

To make the coating, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or in the microwave. Leave to cool a little, then dip the truffles in the melted chocolate and quickly roll in the cocoa powder. Place in the fridge to set.

To serve, arrange the truffles on a plate to hand around to guests while they are enjoying their coffee.

These truffles will keep well in the fridge for up to 1 week in an airtight container. They can also be frozen very successfully, but should always be left at room temperature to thaw out completely.

Lemon Posset with Coole Swan

Serves 4


  • 600ml cream
  • 150g caster sugar
  • juice and rind of 1 lemon
  • 100 ml Passion Fruit and Mango Coulis
  • 1 Vanilla Pod, seeds only
  • 100 ml Coole Swan


Place 600ml of cream in a pan with the sugar, vanilla pod, Coole Swan, Coulis, lemon rind and juice.  Bring to the boil and boil for 1 minute.

Leave the mixture to cool slightly. Pour into 4-6 stemmed glasses, depending on their size. Chill for at least 1-2 hours, but overnight is best.

Set on plates and serve with shortbread on the side.

Ingredients (Mulled Fruits)

  • 150ml/¼ pint port
  • 75g/3oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 x 500g bag frozen forest fruits

Method (Mulled Fruits)
Place the port, sugar, mixed spice and vanilla extract in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for five minutes until syrupy. Stir in the frozen forest fruits. The berries can be made up to a week ahead.

For more food on, please click here.