Turkey takes centre stage but the vegetables also play a vital part

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For me Christmas dinner is as much about the vegetables as it is about Turkey. I have a personal aversion to sprouts that I’ve been trying to rectify lately – if I can overcome a fear of flying this year, surely learning to appreciate a sprout would be a doddle.

A lot of the problem with sprouts is when they’re overcooked, they take on a gassy aroma. Also a big plate of sprouts on their own is a bit of a one dimensional and nondescript dish. After much experimenting I found that dried cranberries add a sweet element, pecans a buttery crunch and fried red onions a delicious savoury edge. Tossing the blanched and fried sprouts with these ingredients and then anointing them with sweet honey, zingy balsamic and a touch of heat from mustard completed the transition. It’s a bit of work but will convert even the most ardent sprout hater – I can vouch from experience.

Any roast dinner, never mind a festive one, wouldn’t be complete without some kind of root vegetables. My second recipe this week is for a root vegetable gratin. I used carrots, turnip and parsnips but use your favourites. It is combined in a creamy nutmeg and thyme infused sauce, baked and then topped with crunchy breadcrumbs and cheese. This dish can be made a day or two in advance (always a big plus in my book) and then finished off when you have a bit of oven space.

The ultimate vegetable should always be the roast potato. Here the fat is vital and I’ve included two award-winning products for the recipe – one vegetarian and one definitely not.

Broighter Gold rapeseed oil gives you a fantastic tasting nutty potato with a sunny golden glow. The other fat I use and one I discovered this year is James Whelan butcher’s dripping. It won the supreme prize in the Great Taste Awards this year out of tens of thousands of entries. Roasties and chips cooked in this are divine but you’ll need a 10 mile hike to work them off! The Meat Merchant in Moira sell the dripping at their farm shop on the Old Kilmore Road.

Whatever you’re cooking this Christmas have a great one.