How to Cook a Turkey & my Favourite Stuffing Recipe

The turkey is the centrepiece of both the traditional Christmas Dinner, Thanksgiving Dinner and the 4th of July Dinner and it’s great for any other special occasion, which is why cooking it properly is so important. Mess it up and not even the best side dishes will save you! Turkey is becoming very popular because it is relatively low in cholesterol and high in vitamins that boost the immune system. It’s also very juicy and tasty!
So here are some tips on how to prepare & cook that perfect Turkey!

 How to Cook a Turkey

A juicy & tender whole roasted turkey really does add to the sense of occasion at Christmas!

  1. First things first. Buy a Fresh Turkey if you can. Don’t buy a turkey that has been pre-stuffed as mishandling or incorrect cooking can cause bacteria to multiply inside the stuffing.
  2. It’s so important that if you’re buying a frozen bird, that you thaw your turkey the right way. If it’s done improperly, the bacteria can multiply to a point where even oven temperatures won’t be able to kill all of them off. This can cause severe food poisoning. The worst thing you can do is to leave your turkey out on the kitchen-counterto thaw. The safest method is to thaw your turkey in the fridge.
  1. When you place the turkey in thefridge (raw meat should always go the bottom shelf) put it on a tray to catch all the juices that will leak out. You should leave the turkey in its original wrapper. It takes approximately 2 days for a 15 pound turkey to fully defrost.
  1. Add some extra flavour by loosely filling the cavity of the bird with vegetables — carrots, celery, onion & garlic work nicely together. Don’t wash your Turkey. The water splashing around will spread more bacteria than you are washing off it – let the oven do the work.
  1. Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with butter, seasoning with sea-salt and ground black pepper. Cover the bird with streaky bacon to add more flavour and to keep it from browning too much. Don’t forget to cover the legs too!
  1. Cover the complete loosely bird with tin foil and once you get the turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to open the oven door! Every time you open the door the temperature drops and all the moisture escapes increasing the likelihood of a dry bird.
  1. Have your oven Pre-heated to 180°C (170°C for fan assisted ovens), 365°F, so that the turkey is going into a hot oven.

The simple rules for Turkey cooking times are:
If it’s Less than 4kg (8½Lbs) weight cook for 20 minutes per kg then add 70 minutes extra time.

If it’s More than 4kg (8½Lbs) weight cook for 20 minutes per kg and add 90 minutes extra time.

  • To Convert your Pounds (lbs) to Kilograms (kg) multiply by 0.46
  • To Convert your Kilograms (kg) to Pounds (lbs) multiply by 2.2

e.g. 20 lbs weight Turkey = 20 x 0.46 = 9.2kg weight
9.2 kg x 20mins =184 minutes. Add 90 = 274 minutes.

Divide this by 60 (minutes in an hour) = 4 hours and 35 minutes Turkey Cooking Time.

  1. About 30 minutes before the turkey should be done, remove the foil from the breast to crisp up the skin.

9.Test the turkey after this time using a pointed knife inserted into the area between the base of the wing and the top of the leg. Push in the blade and the gently ease down on it. Juice from the turkey will run down the blade. If the juices run clear then it is cooked. If there are traces of pink in it give it another little while in the oven.
If you have a cooking thermometer ensure that the centre of the thickest parts return a temp of 75°C.

  1. After you take the turkey out of the oven let it rest, under the loosened foil, for about 15 minutes before carving. This lets the hot juices relax and spread evenly through the meat, giving a moist and juicy bird.

(No. 11. Relax and Don’t Panic…)

My Favourite Stuffing Mix

This is a stuffing recipe that I have used for years. It is versatile and adaptable and can be used with any type of meat. This makes enough for 8 people – generous portions!

 Zacks Irish Food Guide stuffing

This is my recipe but you can add whatever herbs you like to your stuffing!

My Ingredients:

250g (10oz) butter

200g (8oz) diced onion

100g (4oz) diced red onion

100g (4oz) grated carrot

1 tblsp chopped thyme

1 tblsp chopped parsley

1/2 tspn cracked black pepper

2 cloves garlic diced

1 tspn chopped rosemary

1 tspn chopped basil

1 tspn chopped oregano

300g (12oz) white breadcrumbs made with crusts and all

300g (12oz) wholemeal breadcrumbs made with crusts and all

My Method:

  1. Simply place the butter and all other ingredients, except the crumbs, on a medium heat and cook gently, stirring, until the onions and other veg are soft.
  1. Add the breadcrumbs and mix in well until the crumbs have absorbed all the butter and juices.
  1. If the stuffing feels a little dry (depending on the type of day, the weather, the heat of the kitchen or one of another hundred amazingly uncontrollable conditions) I tend to add a little splash of my favourite white wine at this stage and mix well and then add a little of the cooking juices from the cooked turkey just before serving.

Enjoy your Turkey!


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Love a Real Tree this Christmas and Support the Jack and Jill Foundation

Christmas Tree Growers donate 500 trees to Jack & Jill Foundation
Wicklow grower, Christy Kavanagh, has been crowned the Christmas Tree Grower Supreme Champion 2014 in the national Christmas tree growing competition. This is the fifth time that Christy has received the accolade for his Nordmann Fir range in the annual competition organized by the Christmas Tree Growers Association. As an experienced and avid grower, he is enthusiastic about the benefits real Christmas Trees bring to the celebrations, noting that the Nordmann Fir is the most popular type of tree, accounting for 75% of trees sold in Ireland.

The Christmas tree harvest is currently underway due to excellent growing and favourable harvesting conditions, according to the Irish Christmas Tree Growers.  Bord Bia estimates that approximately 500,000 trees will be harvested this year by Irish growers, 300,000 for the home market and 200,000 for export, mainly to the UK.

‘Love a Real Tree’ Campaign

This Christmas, the Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association has launched a new initiative, ‘Love a Real Tree’, to highlight the benefits of choosing a real Christmas tree for your home. This new campaign was developed to include a logo and website ( which highlight the benefits of a real tree versus and an artificial tree, in particular that real Irish Christmas trees are environmentally friendly as they can be recycled, while the land used for growing them can be replanted or returned to traditional agriculture.

Speaking about the campaign, Christy Kavanagh said, “The look, the scent and the very feel of a real tree are all part of the Christmas tradition! Growing the perfect tree takes more than planting a tree and hoping for the best. It takes seven to ten years to produce a 2 metre tall tree, and this means year round care for the life of the tree by growers to produce the best tree possible. When you buy a real Christmas tree, carefully grown and cultured locally, there is that extra special knowledge that you are supporting nature and the environment.”

The Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association represents the major body of producers and suppliers of top grade Christmas Trees in Ireland, with over 100 members nationwide. Ireland has developed a solid reputation for the production of high quality trees for both the domestic and export Christmas tree market.

 Christmas Trees 1
Christy Kavanagh of the Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association

Christmas Tree Growers Donate 500 trees to Jack & Jill Foundation
The Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association is donating 500 four foot Irish grown Christmas trees to the children’s charity, Jack and Jill Foundation. These trees will be used by the charity to stage a one day giveaway on Saturday, 6th December at two locations; Leopardstown Racecourse and Newbridge Retail Park. The trees are available for an on the spot donation of €16 and are ideal for apartments, offices or smaller rooms. 

About the Jack and Jill Children’s Foundation
The Jack & Jill Children’s Foundation was founded by Jonathan Irwin and his wife Senator Mary Ann O’Brien based on their own experience caring for their son Jack at home until he passed away in December 1997. This experience became the blue print for the Jack & Jill model of home nursing care which supports 300 children with severe disabilities as a result of brain damage today and the Foundation has supported over 1,800 families (county breakdown below) since 1997. The service includes funding, home visits, advice, information, lobbying and bereavement support and up to 64 hours of home nursing care per month at a cost of €1,024 per family.  It also includes end of life care of up to 80 hours per month at a cost of €1,280 with a clear focus of supporting parents who decide to take their child home to die. Jack & Jill requires €2.7 million per annum to operate this critical service and, with less than 20% coming from the State, the Foundation depends on the generosity of the public to keep going and on wonderful fundraisers like this, with every €16 raised funding 1 hour of home nursing care.

 Christmas Trees 2
Christy Kavanagh with Jonathan Irwin from the Jack and Jill Foundation

Your Guide to Choosing a Real Christmas Tree

The Irish Christmas Tree Growers Association’s top Tips for Buying your Christmas tree:

Try not to buy your Christmas tree until you are ready to set it up. In many countries, such as France, the Christmas tree is not set up until Christmas Eve and taken down after January 6th.

After you bring your Christmas tree home, keep it in a cool place like an unheated garage, porch or patio until you are ready to bring it indoors.

Set it up in a cool area (less than 15 centigrade) and as far away as possible from sources of heat including fireplaces, radiators and vents. This will prolong the life of the tree for the holiday season.

Place it in a “water stand”. Most Christmas tree sellers have these available. The stand has a wide   base and bolts for giving the tree stability, and a basin for water to keep your tree fresh.

Just before standing your tree in the water stand, you should make a fresh saw-cut, straight across the stem, at least 3 cm above the original cut. This fresh cut allows the tree to absorb water easily.

Check out your local County Council website for Christmas Tree Recycling locations near you.

Irish Christmas Tree Facts

Production is mainly concentrated in counties Wexford, Carlow, Wicklow, Tipperary and Cork where soils and climate combine to produce high yields.

Approximately 8 million trees of all ages are currently growing on circa. 1, 500 hectares

There are approximately 10 significant producers and 70 to 80 smaller growers.

The farm gate value of current domestic and export sales is estimated at €10 million, plus retail values of €25 million

The three most popular varieties of Christmas tree are the Nordmann Fir (accounting for 75% of trees sold in Ireland), the Noble Fir (accounting for 15% of trees sold in Ireland) and the Lodgepole Pine.

Love a Real Tree

Why buy a real Christmas Tree?

Locally grown Christmas trees are really fresh due to the reduced travel stress on them.

There is a tremendous variety and a large range of different size trees available to meet your particular needs.

Once cared for properly, non-shedding trees, such as the Normann Fir, Noble Fir and Lodgepole Pine, will not lose their needles.

Each tree is cultured as an individual tree and produced to the highest quality standards from the time they are planted right through to delivery.

Your real Christmas tree is a natural resource and therefore can be recycled.  This is in contrast to artificial trees, which are usually made of metal and plastic materials and use oils and minerals in their manufacture.  An artificial tree may last up to six years in your home but takes centuries to break down in landfill sites.

The forest environment is protected by the fact that Christmas trees are continually being planted to replace those trees being harvested.

As well as adding to the beauty of our landscape, growing Christmas trees produces large amounts of oxygen and removes the harmful carbon dioxide or “greenhouse gas” from our atmosphere.  Real trees also provide natural habitats for forest animals and birds.

All the funds raised go to the charity with each €16 donation accounting for one hour of home nursing care for one Jack and Jill baby. Visit for more information.

For more tips on buying and caring for your real Christmas tree, visit


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Dublin Foodie Caroline Byrne is appointed new Secretary General of Euro-Toques Ireland

Caroline Byrne has been appointed as the new Secretary General of Euro-Toques Ireland. Caroline is taking over from Ruth Hegarty, who worked with Euro-Toques Ireland for the past 11 years.

Caroline Byrne takes over as Secretary General of Euro-Toques Ireland
Caroline is best known in the industry as chief Dublin Editor of John and Sally McKenna’s Food Guides (formerly known as Bridgestone Food Guides) and for her involvement with the TASTE Council of Ireland, the steering committee for artisan food producers. Previously, Caroline was editor of food industry trade magazine ShelfLife and has experience in PR, Marketing, Business Development and Social Media through her work with small and medium size food businesses and consumer foods focussed PR agencies.
Commissioner General Wade Murphy and the Board of Commissioners welcome Caroline to Euro-Toques Ireland and look forward to working with her in the next phase of the organisation’s development.
Euro-toques – the European Community of Chefs – was established in Brussels in 1986 by the top chefs in the region. Their purpose was to form a network of chefs committed to quality local food sourcing and to be a voice for the industry to protect Europe’s traditional foods and culinary heritage.
Myrtle Allen of Ballymaloe House was one of the founding members and went on to found Euro-toques Ireland the same year. Euro-toques Ireland lobbies on a variety of food policy issues and is heavily involved in education, focussing on food education for children and skills training for chefs, in addition to organising food-related events and activities for both industry and the public.
You can follow Caroline on Twitter at @DublinFoodie
For more info on Euro-Toques see:
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Gerard Collier of Fisherman’s Catch, Clogherhead, wins BIM Young Fishmonger 2015

Bord Iascaigh Mhara (BIM), the Irish Seafood Development Agency, has named Gerard Collier of Fisherman’s Catch, Clogherhead, Co. Louth, as the winner of the BIM Young Fishmonger 2015 competition. The awards event was held yesterday, in the Radisson St. Helen’s Hotel, Stillorgan, Co. Dublin.

BIM Young Fishmonger of the Year 2015, Gerard Collier with Martin Shanahan
Gerard was selected as winner from a shortlist of five finalists, all of whom demonstrated to the judges, an exceptional high standard in technical expertise, product knowledge and customer service. Martin Shanahan, owner of Fishy Fishy Café & Restaurant, author and TV broadcaster was the guest speaker at the event, where he congratulated the finalists and commended their passion for the seafood industry.

This is the second year of the BIM Young Fishmonger Awards, developed by BIM to recognise and reward young fishmongers. Their aim is to encourage new entrants into the business and to ultimately raise the bar across the Irish fishing sector.
The judges were very impressed with the knowledge, skills
and commitment demonstrated by all the finalists

The other finalists in BIM’s Young Fishmonger 2015 competition were: Stevie Connolly, Connolly’s Seafood, Rathmines, Dublin 6; Neil Turner, Caviston’s Food Emporium, Glasthule, Co. Dublin; Mateusz Kowalik, Doran’s on the Pier, Howth, Co. Dublin and Gary Quinn, Stephen’s Fish Market, Mullingar, Co. Westmeath.

Speaking at the awards ceremony today, Donal Buckley, Business Development & Innovation Director at BIM said; ‘Our role, as the Seafood Development Agency, is to develop the retail trade in terms of seafood presentation, training and food safety management. We see this initiative as an exciting component of this strategy.”
He added, “Congratulations to our worthy winner Gerard Collier and his colleagues at Fisherman’s Catch, I hope this experience and the competition prize fund allows you to further develop what is a very successful family business.”

As overall winner of the competition, Gerard will be offered a study trip to France, a cheque for €1,000, a set of professional knives and a specially designed trophy. Along with the other finalists he will also benefit from a free placement on BIM’s retail development workshop. As part of their prize, all of the finalists have already enjoyed an inspiring masterclass in seafood cookery with Martin Shanahan.

Fishing Boats at Killybegs Harbour in Donegal

Throughout the competition, the judges put all the finalists through their paces with three different stages of scoring. This included  two unannounced visits to their shops to assess product knowledge and customer service and a practical test where they were asked to fillet and prepare a range of fish and shellfish for customer use, under time constraints.

Finalists were also required to discuss their plans, opportunities and challenges for their business. Throughout all the stages, the judges were very impressed with the knowledge, skills and commitment demonstrated by all the finalists. Well done Gerard!


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How to Roast Chestnuts without an Open Fire

“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”. Those immortal words from the famous Nat King Cole song always pop up around the middle of November and indicate the beginning of the build-up to the Christmas season and all that goes with it!

In Ireland we don’t really have a tradition of eating roasted chestnuts, but like everything else, the world is becoming a smaller place and we can now get our hands on anything, if you really want it.

Edible chestnuts do not grow in Ireland. Most of the chestnuts that are eaten around the world are imported from Japan, China, Spain, and Italy. They are known as ‘Marrons’ in France.

I got my local veg-man to get me a bag of sweet chestnuts to try out and did some research on how to cook them. They taste different from what you’ll expect and also, don’t be disappointed if many of them break up when you’re taking them out of the shell – that’s happens in real life!

How to Roast Chestnuts without an Open Fire

Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

1. Using a small, sharp pointed knife, cut a cross into the flat-side skin of each Chestnut. This helps to prevent the chestnut from exploding while cooking.

2. Drop them into cold water, to soak, for 15 minutes. This helps them steam and stay moist.

3. Place the Chestnuts on a roasting tin, cut side up and bake until the skin splits open and the inside is tender, about 20 minutes.

4. Put the cooked chestnuts in a dry towel and press gently to crush open the shell. Peel the shell back and eat them straight away!

If they start to get cold they become very hard to peel. Only a few of mine came out looking perfect and that was because I peeled some very carefully! You can pop the chestnuts back into the oven and warm them up a little again, to help peel them.

You can serve them out in paper bags or newspaper cones if you wish. You can also boil chestnuts for 15 minutes and peel them before you add them into your Christmas Stuffing. Give them a go either way!

You can find my favourite stuffing recipe here: 10 Tips for the Perfect Turkey & My Stuffing Recipe


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The Simpsons co-creator, Sam Simon, saves Irish “Gay” Bull

Benjy, a clinically declared “Gay” Charolais Bull, from Co Mayo, Ireland, farmer, has escaped the butcher’s block after Sam Simon, the co-creator of The Simpsons cartoon, stepped in to pay the balance of the animals retirement home payments.

The bull had failed to impregnate any of the cows in a Mayo farmer’s herd showing more interest in the other bulls on the farm!

Mr Simon pledged to pay the €6,250 (£5,000) needed to save Benjy, after a crowd funding campaign was set up by the Animal Rights Action Network (Aran.) Another €5000 had already been raised through donations and Mr Simon offered to make up the balance.

Sam Simon, who is suffering from terminal cancer and is donating his $100m fortune to charities, is a long-time animal activist and his contribution will allow Benjy the Gay Bull to live out his days at the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in England. Plans are being made to transport the grateful bull to his retirement home in December.

Sam Simon, along with Matt Groening and James L Brooks created the cartoon series, The Simpsons, in 1989. He led the original team of the popular animation’s writers.

Mr Simon was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago and was given only three months to live, though he continues to fight the disease. He is well known as a philanthropist with a special interest in animal protection.


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Help make sure our local Irish Seafood is named correctly

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) are inviting input into Ireland’s Fishery and Aquaculture Products Commercial Designation List. All EU Member States are required to publish a list of the commercial designations together with their scientific names of fishery and aquaculture products, accepted in their territory.

This list must indicate the scientific name for each species, its name in the official language or languages of the Member State and, where applicable, any other name or names accepted or permitted locally or regionally.

Commercial designations must be used when marketing fish in the EU and are provided to consumers at the point of retail.

The inclusion of the common names or local names of fish or aquaculture products in the commercial designation list helps ensure that consumers are provided with accurate and consistent information and are then able to make informed choices. This is where we can all help out as there are many different names used for the same species of fish, in different parts of Ireland.

Sprat, also know in Donegal as “Sprit”

For example, here in Donegal we use both the names “Sprit” and “Sprat” for that small tasty oily fish, Sprattus sprattus, which is a member of the Clupeidae family that includes Herrings and Sardines. It may only be a small variation in the name but if these local names are not recorded, they will get lost.

Irish White Fish, Oily Fish and Shellfish, in Gaelic. pic

On the 13th December 2014, the current legislation S.I. 320 of 2003 and its associated list of commercial designations will be replaced as EU Regulation No. 1379/20131 will apply from this date. Therefore this is now an appropriate time to ensure that the commercial designation list includes all the relevant species. See Articles 35-37 for name references.

The FSAI invites all interested parties to submit their comments on the draft Fishery and Aquaculture Commercial Designations List that accompanies this consultation.

Submissions to the Consultation

If you are making a submission, please state whether the views expressed are personal or are

being made on behalf of an organisation. If the views of an organisation are being submitted it

should be made clear what organisation is being represented.

The Closing Date for Submissions is 26th November 2014

Submissions may be e-mailed to:
or may be posted to: Consultations, Food Safety Authority of Ireland, Abbey Court, Lwr Abbey Street, Dublin 1.
See also


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