Duck with prunes, chestnuts and Pedro Ximenez Sherry


“This dish has all the elements of the perfect Christmas centrepiece – and it’s just too easy to prepare!” – Omar Allibhoy, chef and founder of Tapas Revolution

3 tbsp olive oil
1 small whole duck (about 1.5kg/3lbs), cleaned
8 garlic cloves, skin on but crushed
A handful of peeled chestnuts
1 onion, thinly sliced
6 sprigs of fresh thyme
12 prunes
125ml Sweet Pedro Ximenez Sherry
Salt and freshly-ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Heat the olive oil in a wide ovenproof pan, or casserole dish, over a medium heat. Season the duck with salt and pepper and pan-fry on all sides until golden. Help yourself with a pair of tongs. After 10 minutes, remove the duck from the pan and set aside.

Add the garlic cloves, chestnuts and onion to the pan and fry for 10 minutes. Add the thyme and prunes and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Return the duck to the pan and flambé with the sherry. To do this, slowly tilt the pan towards the flame until the sherry catches, or light with a match. Let the flames flare up, then die down, before adding 250ml (1 cup) of water.

Put the pan in the oven and cook for 25 minutes, then switch off the heat and leave the duck in the oven for a further 20 minutes without opening the door. This should crisp up the skin and cook the duck to perfection, as well as resting the meat.

Serve with roast potatoes, or good quality bread.


Toasted almond nougat


“In Spain, we have turron to finish off a big dinner. You could say it’s a Spanish twist on a fruit cake – it’s a Christmas tradition.” – Omar Allibhoy, founder of Tapas Revolution

300 g (2⅓ cups) of good-quality, raw and skinless almonds, ideally Spanish, such as Marcona
1 egg white
200 g (¾ cup) honey
100 g (½ cup) caster (super fine) sugar
½ tsp ground cinnamon

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6.

Spread the raw almonds over a roasting tray and roast for 3–4 minutes, until lightly golden. Set aside to cool, then crush in a food processor. Be careful not to pulverise the almonds.

Whisk the egg white in a clean, grease-free bowl until it is an opaque white foam. This will take a few minutes with an electric whisk, or in a mixer.

Put the honey, sugar and cinnamon into a heavy-based pan over a low-medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula until the sugar has melted with the honey.

Remove from the heat and add the egg foam, little by little, whisking and mixing continuously. Place the pan back over a low heat and add the crushed almonds, a little at a time, still stirring and mixing with a wooden spoon, or a spatula, as the mixture thickens, for no longer than 5 minutes.

If your mixture splits for some reason, you can blend this mix in the food processor again for 30 seconds and it will come back together.

Pour the mixture into a rectangular silicone mould, or a baking tin (about 25 x 12cm [10 x 5in]) lined with baking parchment, using a spatula to push and spread the mixture level and into the corners.
Cover with parchment paper and rest a heavy bag of rice (or similar) on top to weight it down. Let set in a cold environment for at least 24 hours.

Recipes taken from Spanish Made Simple: Foolproof Spanish Recipes for Every Day by Omar Allibhoy of Tapas Revolution (Quadrille, £20)

Tapas Revolution Newcastle, S3, Greys Quarter, Newcastle, NE1 7AP


Spiced with ras el hanout butter and stuffed with a bejewelled stuffing


“Not the traditional roast bird for the big day, but the perfect recipe for those of you who would prefer to break from tradition. This turkey breast is rolled for easy serving, so the only tricky part is the butterflying process – but most butchers will do this for you if you ask.” – Donal Skehan, chef and TV personality

For the turkey:
2kg turkey breast, skin on
50g of butter
1 tbsp ras el hanout
8 figs, halved
2-3 tbsp of honey
Sea salt and ground black pepper

For the stuffing:
50g dried apricots, finely sliced
50g sultanas
25g butter
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp ras el hanout
200g breadcrumbs
Seeds of 1/2 pomegranate
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Zest of 1 orange
A large handful chopped fresh coriander

For the gravy:
250ml dry white wine
250ml of chicken stock
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp of plain flour

To make the stuffing, place the apricots and sultanas in a bowl and cover with boiling water to soak for 15 minutes. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and melt the butter.

Add in the onions and fry gently for 6 minutes until completely softened. Place the rest of the stuffing ingredients in a mixing bowl and add the cooked onions.

Season with sea salt and ground black pepper and mix until completely combined. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200˚C/400˚F/Gas mark 6. Butterfly the turkey breast, or ask your butcher to do it for you. Lay it flat on a chopping board and pile on the stuffing down the centre.

Carefully, tightly roll it up and then using kitchen string tie it in 2 inch intervals. Place the stuffed and tied breast in a large oval heavy based pot with a lid.

Rub all over with soft butter and season with ras el hanout, sea salt and ground black pepper.

Cover with a lid and roast the turkey breast in the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes (or 40 minutes per kg). Check that it’s cooked by inserting a metal skewer to the centre to see that the skewer is very hot and the juices run clear when removed. Baste regularly throughout the cooking time.

15 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the lid and add the figs around the turkey breast and drizzle all over the turkey and the figs with honey.

Remove from the oven, transfer the breast and figs to a chopping board and allow to rest under tin foil while you prepare the gravy. Place the pot over a medium heat and whisk in the white wine to deglaze the bottom.

Add in the chicken stock and reduce by half. If you want a thicker sauce, add three tablespoons of the gravy liquid to a small bowl and whisk together with 1 tablespoon of plain flour.
Season with a little honey and some extra ras el hanout to taste.

When you have a smooth mixture whisk this back into the gravy and bubble away until it reduces the desired thickness. Season with sea salt and ground black pepper.

Carefully remove the string from the cooked turkey and then carve in generous slices. Serve with the warm gravy, sprinkle of pomegranate, coriander and the Christmas sides of your choice.


With pork, sage and chestnut stuffing


“With festive flavours of sage and roasted chestnuts, this is the perfect recipe to give your bird the royal treatment this Christmas. A sophisticated spin on traditional turkey.” – Adam Woolven, head chef at Island Grill, Royal Lancaster London

4 turkey escalopes
4 pork sausages
½ bunch of chopped sage
1 small white onion
2 garlic cloves
50g butter
30g chestnuts, chopped
100g fresh white breadcrumbs
Pinch of salt and pepper

For the stuffing, peel and finely dice the onion and chop the garlic, before adding to a small frying pan with 25g of butter. Cook on a medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.   

Add the sage, chopped chestnuts & breadcrumbs. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and mix well. Set the mix aside in the fridge to cool.

Once cooled, remove the onion mix from the fridge, and mix in the sausage meat.

For the ballontines, place the turkey escalopes onto a clean chopping board, cover with cling film and use a wooden rolling pin to flatten each escalope to around 1cm thick.

Place a sausage-sized amount of stuffing down the middle of each escalope. Ensure you don’t go right to the edge as the escalope will shrink when cooked.

Fold each side of the turkey escalope over the stuffing mix. Place on cling film and roll tightly five times, tying a knot in each end to prevent water getting in during cooking.

Bring a large pot of water to the boil and add the ballontines. Cover the pot with a lid and poach for 15-20 minutes, until cooked. 

Once cooked, remove them from the water and transfer directly to the fridge, leaving them to cool for one hour. The preparation and cooking process can be done a day in advance of serving the ballontines.

Once cool, remove the cling film. Heat a large, non-stick frying pan and add 25g of butter. Fry the ballontines on all sides until they are golden-brown. Season well with salt and pepper.

Finish in a pre-heated oven (180C) and cook for 8-10 minutes.

To serve, slice on an angle and serve with your favourite roasted vegetables.

Adam Woolven is head chef at Island Grill restaurant at Royal Lancaster London, London, W2 2TY; royallancasterlondon.com


A hearty, feel-good, pick-me-up recipe for that time between Christmas and New Year


“This is a no-fuss brussel sprout recipe. Baked in a creamy white sauce, the sprouts can be kept warm in a low oven until you’re ready to serve them.” – Donal Skehan, chef and TV personality

For the gratin:
1 tbsp of olive oil
A good knob of butter
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1kg of Brussel sprouts, peeled and halved
75g of Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Sea salt and ground black pepper

For the white sauce:
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
240ml milk

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan over a medium high heat until the butter melts and begins to foam.

Add in the garlic and fry for 30 seconds before adding in the brussel sprouts and stir frying for 6-8 minutes until tender.

Make the white sauce by melting the butter in a saucepan then adding the flour, whisking vigorously for 1 minute.

Add in the milk, whisking as you go until you have a smooth mixture. bring to the boil for about a minute or until thickened then set aside. Stir through 1/3 of the Parmesan cheese.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Place the brussel sprouts into a baking dish and pour the white sauce over to coat.

Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and cook in the oven for about 20 minutes. Serve straight away.



“This recipe might look complicated, but in fact it is incredibly easy. Whichever way you decide to do it, always go for the best quality dark chocolate you can afford.” – Donal Skehan, chef and TV personality

For the brownies:
225g dark chocolate, broken into squares
225g butter
300g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

For the chocolate custard:
600ml cream
140g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate, broken into squares

For the cherry syrup:
3 x 400g can black cherries in syrup
2 tbsp kirsch or brandy

For the cream topping:
300ml cream
1⁄2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp sifted icing sugar
200ml tub crème fraiche

For the decoration:
A handful edible gold stars
A good sprinkling edible gold sprinkles
100g dark chocolate, in large thick shavings
100g white chocolate, in large thick shavings
100g fresh cherries (optional)

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas mark 4. To make the brownies, line a 22 x 30cm baking tin with baking parchment. Place the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl does not touch the water. Stir constantly until melted and smooth.

With a hand-held electric mixer, whisk the sugar and eggs together for 2-3 minutes until pale and fluffy. Slowly add the melted chocolate and butter then add the vanilla extract and continue to whisk until thickened.

Lastly, sift in the flour and baking powder and fold in gently. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes until the top is firm and the cake has come away slightly from the sides of the tin. Leave to cool.

To make the chocolate custard, pour the cream into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Beat together the sugar, egg yolks and vanilla extract in a bowl. Pour over two tbsp’s of the cream into the egg yolk mixture, whisking to combine, then add back into the rest of the cream.

Lower the heat and cook for a few minutes, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon until the custard coats the back of a spoon.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in the microwave on high for 1 minute, or do it in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Remove the thickened custard from the heat and stir in the melted chocolate. Cover with cling film and leave to cool.

To make the cherry sauce, drain the cherries, reserving the liquid, then set aside. Place the liquid in a pan with the kirsch or brandy and simmer for about five minutes or until syrupy – it should be about 100ml in total. Stir in the cherries and leave to cool.

Cut the brownies into small squares and use to cover the base of a trifle bowl. Spoon over the cherries along with their syrup.

Spoon over the chocolate custard, then cover with cling film and chill while you finish making the topping.

Lightly whip the cream with the vanilla extract and icing sugar until soft peaks form, then gently fold in the crème fraiche. Cover with cling film and chill until you are ready to assemble.

To serve, pile large dollops of the cream mixture on top of the custard and decorate with the gold starts, sprinkles, chocolate shavings and some fresh cherries, if you like.

Find more of Donal’s recipes at donalskehan.com and youtube.com/donalskehan – and don’t forget to catch him on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen!