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Little Christmas with Richie Wilson

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Richie Wilson - Head Chef at the Morrison

In November 2006, the Morrison appointed Richie Wilson as Executive Head Chef in its newly restyled Halo restaurant.

Richie has a wealth of experience and has worked in a number of Irelands's top restaurants and hotels. Richie's love for the kitchen began in The Gresham Hotel and was followed by Jobs in Chez Hugo's and the renowned McGrattain's Restaurant before attending college in Athlone I.T. After graduating as Ireland's Young Professional Chef of the Year, Richie received a scholarship to Johnson and Whales Culinary Arts University in Rhode Island. On his return he took up a position in The Hibernian Hotel before taking a position in Paul Flynn's Tannery Restaurant and after 3 years with Paul he spent 3 years with the 2 Michelin Starred, Kevin Thornton in Thornton's Restaurant. The Westin Hotel was the next stop and most recently Richie was responsible for opening the food operations at the new Hilton Hotel Dublin Airport.

Richie serves up a fusion of modern European cuisine using Irish produce wherever possible. He ensures that all produce used is of the highest quality and he believes that the secret to good food is having an excellent relationship with your supplier. Richie believes in carefully selecting his suppliers and he prefers to deal with small suppliers who take great pride in their produce.

The menu in Halo offers a range of styles to suit every palate and the emphasis is on rounded tastes that are artfully presented. The White Asparagus Mousse starter is a wonderful example of this. Here Richie provides art on a plate with wild asparagus, white and green asparagus, gentle twists of white asparagus mousse and edible flowers including blue salvia and daisies for a pretty and fresh look.

When asked who Richie's influences are he reveals that his grandmother was his first influence. He remembers watching her deftly make pastry from a very young age and he claims she made the best pastry in Ireland - due to her cold hands, but warm heart. His second influence is Delia Smith who according to Richie brought basic cookery skills to the masses and was the Nigella Lawson of the 80's in terms of sexy housewife appeal.

Richie believes in using traditional menu items as his inspiration and then bringing them back to life with new flavours and twists. His Coffee Break dessert is a great example of this. Richie remembers queuing at the counter of a Café with his mum who would take a tray and order a cup of coffee with a slice of cake, dollop of cream and a fork on the side of the plate. His Coffee Break replicates that idea. The plate is the tray, the dried raspberry wafer coulis is the plate, the coffee, chocolate and crème brulee flavoured mini slice of cake sits on top of that with a swirl of fresh cream to the side. He even recreates the cup of coffee with a miniature chocolate cup on a wafer saucer filled with coffee flavoured fondant. The finishing touch is the chocolate dusted fork on the side of the plate.

So how does Richie run his kitchen? "No shouting. I have worked in kitchens over the years where you got roared at and it never made me cook any better. This is a stressful game with long and unsociable hours but it is passionate and I love it. My team are super and I want to keep them and show them what I have learned. I just don't see the point of abusing your own team members to the point where they break down, it's a stressful enough game but I couldn't ever imagine doing anything else."

Confit Pork

Parisienne Potatoes

Pear and Apple Purée

Cider and Chestnut Jus

4 Portions

Confit Pork

. 2kg Pork neck fillet
. 500g Duck Fat
. 1clove Garlic
. shallot
. cloves
. Salt
. Pepper

Pear and Apple Puree and Foam

. 300g Peeled and cored Pears
. 300g Peeled and cored apples
. 100g Sugar
. 50ml Water

Baby Leek

12 Baby leeks(allowing 3 per person), washed and trimmed
13 Parisienne Potatoes

6-8 Large Potatoes

Cider Jus

300ml Demi Glaze (You can also use a beef stock jelly made up to 300 ml with boiling water)
300ml Cider
Apple Peels and cores
2 tsp Chestnut Puree

1 This method is layed out in two halves.
2 The first half should be done either the day before or the morning of your dinner party.
3 The second half is completed when you are serving dinner.
4 This way you can have all your preparation done and the majority of your pots pans and chopping boards are clean and put away before your guests arrive leaving you free to enjoy the evening along with everyone else.


1 Begin by seasoning the meat well.
2 Place in a hot pan with a little oil.
3 Brown the joint of meat on all sides, this will seal in all the flavors during cooking.
4 Now in a heavy base pot over a medium heat place all the remaining ingredients along with the now sealed meat.
5 Ensure the meat is covered with fat, you can always add a little vegetable oil to top it up if needs be.
6 Turn the heat down low and cover the pot.
7 Cook for about 1 hour before setting aside to cool.
8 Once the fat has cooled remove the meat and roll in cling film, like a Christmas cracker. This forms a nice cylinder shape to the meat making it easy to portion and re heat in

Parisienne Potatoes

Scoop balls of potato using a parisienne scoop ensuring you get as many as possible from each potato. Place the balls in a pot of salted cold water and bring to a simmer for 4 minutes. Strain and cool in cold water. After cooling, remove from the water and refrigerate until you a ready for part two.

Pear and Apple Puree

Chop the pear and apple into equal sized small pieces about a cm squared. Place in a pot along with the water and sugar. Cook over a medium heat until they are both soft and crush easily. Now strain any excess liquid and set to one side for later if you need to add a little to help puree the flesh. Pour the pear and apple into a jug blender and blend until smooth. Refrigerate until you are ready for part two.

Cider Jus

Sweat down the apple trimming in a pot and add the cider. Bring this to a strong boil until the liquid has been reduced by over half. Now add the demi glaze and reduce by half again.Add the chestnut Puree now and mix well. Cool and refrigerate until ready for part two.


Begin about 20-30 minutes before you wish to serve the meal.
Remove the cling film and cut the joint into 4 equal steaks. Fry each one in a hot pan, turning all the time, until golden brown all over. Now place in a preheated oven at 140 degrees to keep it hot while you move on to the rest of the dish

Parisienne Potatoes

Set the fryer to 350 and deep fry until golden brown. Place on some kitchen paper and place in the oven along with the pork until ready to serve.

Baby Leek

In a pot of boiling salted water place the leeks for just 4 minutes. Strain and brush with a little butter. Place in the oven with the meat and potatoes for what should be just 3-4 minutes while you heat the remaining ingredients.

Pear and Apple Puree

Place the puree into a small pot over a low heat until hot through.

Cider Jus

Bring to the boil in a small pot and you are ready to serve.

To Serve

Ensure the plates you are going to use a hot first!

Place a piece of pork to one side of each plate and smear the opposite side with a little of the purée. Place the baby leeks criss-cross over the puree. Now place the deep fried potatoes around the plate and drizzle with a little jus. Serve and enjoy

Plumb Pudding Doughnut
Hot Mulled Wine and Cinnamon Parfait

Plumb Pudding Doughnuts


. 300g Christmas Pudding
. 15g Fresh Yeast
. 150 ml Milk
. 500g Strong Flour
. 100g Caster Sugar
. 2 Eggs
. 65g Melted Butter
. Pinch Salt

Cinnamon Parfait

. 50g Caster Sugar
. 2tbsp Water
. Egg Yolks
. 200ml Cream
. Vanilla Pod
. tsp Ground Cinnamon

Pudding Doughnut Method:

1. Mix the yeast with the warm milk, set aside for 5 minutes. In a bowl add the flour sugar and salt.
2. Make a well in the centre and add one beaten egg mixing thoroughly. Add the 2 remaining eggs one at a time.
3. Now work in the melted butter followed by the milk and yeast mix. Knead the dough until it becomes elastic.
4. Leave to one side in the bowl and cover with a towel. Allow the dough to prove to double in size.
5. Now knock it back and roll into a thin sheet.
6. Take small spoons of the Christmas pudding and roll into tight balls.
7. Cut the dough into small circles and place the pudding in the centre.
8. Now roll the dough around the pudding in the palms of your hand until a nice even ball has been formed.
9. Fry the doughnuts in hot oil, 185, until they swell up and become golden brown drain well on a paper towel and than toss in a mix of caster sugar and ground cinnamon.

Cinnamon Parfait Method:

1. Place the sugar and water into a pot and boil hard for 4 minutes.
2. Meanwhile in an electric mixer whisk the eggs and the seeds from the vanilla pod along with the cinnamon, until double in size.
3. While still mixing pour the hot sugar over the eggs and continue mixing until they have cooled down.
4. Whisk the cream until thick and once the egg mix has cooled fold the cream into this. Now you can either fill moulds with this mix or simply place into a tub and place in the freezer over night.

To Serve

You should only cook the doughnuts just before serving them. Place the doughnuts on a plate, 2 per person is plenty. Along side them place a scoop of the parfait and beside that a sherry glass or similar of the hot mulled wine. Enjoy