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Christmas Day Planner with Derry Clarke

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Derry Clarke - L'Ecrivivain Restaurant


Derry Clarke, has been Chef/Patron of l'Ecrivain for over 20 years. He started his career in The Man Friday in Kinsale under Peter Barry in 1972 and moved to Dublin in 1977. He then spent four years in le Coq Hardi and a further eight years in the Bon Appetit before opening his own restaurant in July 1989 with his wife Sallyanne.

Derry and l'Ecrivain have been awarded many accolades over the past twenty years, including a Michelin Star which was awarded in 2003.


Derry completed his time as Commissioner General at EuroToques, but remains actively involved with Eurotoque, and is also a member of the Restaurants Association of Ireland since 1989.


Derry promotes the use of Organic Food & Non Genetically Modified Foods.


Derry's food ethos is simple. He uses the finest of fresh local produce; he believes that a good dish can only be produced when each & every ingredient used for the dish is of the highest of quality. This is why he spends so much time sourcing his ingredients. He likes using smaller organic and artisan producers, and is very keen on the promotion of indigenous products. Derry believes in keeping food simple. He will not use more than four flavours on the one dish.


Derry and Sallyanne are constantly up-grading and changing everything at l'Ecrivain Restaurant to ensure they are offering the very best of Food, Wines and Service at all times.
Derrys Clarke's Stress-free Christmas day countdown
Here is Derry's secret to having the perfect Christmas lunch at 3pm on Christmas day - it's all in the planning! Organising the last 24hrs like clockwork - this means that the cook will then enjoy the Christmas lunch just as much as the guests do.


Christmas Eve


1. Shop for any last minute bits and pieces.


2. Set the table completely - Leave everything else on a side table like bread baskets, butter, dishes, etc., at the ready.


3. Put all white wines, champagne/sparkling, beers, etc in the fridge and have your ice, lemon & lime slices ready too.


4. Peel and prepare the vegetables and potatoes.

TIP:- Do not do too many veg: I.E. Brussel sprouts and carrots creamed and roast potatoes.


5. Prepare the dessert and keep in the fridge on a trya ready for the next day.


6. Boil the ham Christmas Eve evening and undercook slightly- Let it cool overnight in the same water, cover and it will be perfect for the next day.


7. Make the stuffing for the turkey and refrigerate.


8. Make the cranberry sauce, cool and refrigerate.


9. Keep the turkey in the fridge overnight. If it doesn't fit in your fridge, place in large tray, wrap in several clean bags, and leave it in a cool place, such as garage, shed or outhouse - ensure it's pest free though!


10. Slice the smoked salmon or dress the crabmeat and put in the fridge.


11. If soup is your starter - please make Christmas Eve.


12. Leave out milk and cookies for Santa (or maybe a wee Port or Brandy!)

Christmas Day

1. 09: 30am - Turn on the oven.


2. Have a light breakfast - maybe some Bucks Fizz - It is Christmas Day!


3. 10:00am Stuff the turkey, put the turkey in the oven and allocate 20 minutes per lbs, average turkey is 14/15 lbs. Add additional 20 minutes.


4. 10am - 11am Open presents, have drinks and get ready for the day ahead.


5. 11am - Take out ham from water, place on roasting tray and stud with cloves, mustard and honey or brown sugar. It is now ready to go in the oven.


11.30am Take out the veg and potatoes from the day before and prepare for their cooking.


6. Par boil potatoes for roast potatoes - boil the rest of the potatoes for making the creamed spuds.


7. Have all the ingredients ready to hand for the gravy, etc.


8. Make custard - whip cream (Irish coffees) - and have final touches ready for starter, mains and dessert.


9. 1.00PM Place par boiled peeled potatoes around the turkey. Cut them in two if they are large ones.


Remember to always keep basting turkey to keep it succulent.


10. Prepare your starter (smoke salmon or soup etc.) Keep it simple. There is a lot of food in the main course.


11. 1.30pm - Cook the remaining vegetables and cream the potatoes.


12. 2.00pm - Remove turkey and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.


13. Put ham in the oven to glaze and warm.
Put bread and butter/oil on the table.


14. Place the desserts on a side table so that they are ready to serve after the meal.


15. Have the cups, saucers, etc., out with milk and sugar too - very handy.


16. Open the red wine and put on the table.


17. Open the white wine and put back in the fridge to keep cool until ready to sit down.


18. Have drinks, beers, etc. in a cooler so that once you have served everyone, they can then help themselves.


19. Leave enough ice, lemons, etc. out too for the same reason. This should be a fun day for you too.


20. Make gravy in turkey roasting tray from juices adding demi-glaze. Bisto gravy granules are great to use too.


21. Place the jugs of water or anything else on the table.


22. 3pm Place the starter on the table and ask your guest to sit down.


23. Delegate the wine pouring to one person - and then let everyone help themselves.


24. Enjoy your starter and then again, delegate someone or several to help clear away the starter plates etc., you will also need help for the main course.


25. Finish off your veg. and potatoes, carve your turkey and ham - or ask for help doing this, and then plate up your turkey and ham Christmas Dinner. Put the remainder of the veg. and potatoes into a dish in the centre of the table. Put the gravy into a sauceboat again on the table. People that want more can then help themselves.


26. Enjoy!! It's your Christmas meal and everyone is having fun.


27. When you have finished, clear the table and have your desserts from the side table when you are good and ready to eat.


28. Put the tea and coffe on - make the Irish Coffees.


29. Most of all- Do not get flustered and enjoy your day. Remember, if you are relaxed, and organized, your guests will be relaxed too and it will make a for a day to remember.


Condensed Plan:

Christmas Eve

1: Set the table. Chill wines and prep veg


2: Prepare dessert and boil the ham


3: Make the stuffing, cranberry sauce and prep your starters

Christmas Day


9.30 Turn on the oven and have your breakfast


10.00 Stuff the turkey, pop in the oven, open presents!


11.00 Prep ham for oven


11.30 Par boil potatoes, pop in oven to roast, make custard


1.00 Finish off your starters


1.30 Cream potatoes and cook remaining veg


2.00 Remove turkey and leave to rest, put ham in oven to glaze


2- 3 Open the wines, make your gravy


3.00 Serve and sit down to enjoy a well deserved dinner

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