Last minute Christmas dishes with Darina Allen

With the 25th just hours away, Darina Allen has a few last minute festive recipes to put the cherry on top of your Christmas Day.

I love to buy a whopping big turkey so we’ll hopefully have some leftovers after turkey sandwiches to make some of my favourite dishes of the whole year.

We’ll start with the turkey……

First strip off every scrap of meat and crispy skin from the turkey. Chop up the carcass as best you can. Make a fine pot of turkey stock by adding the giblets, neck, heart and gizzard but not the liver, that would make the stock bitter plus be a waste of a superb ingredient – it will make a rich and smooth, unctuous pot of turkey liver pâté.

One can make many, flavoursome turkey soups from Asian Pho to a nourishing Scandi broth. I’ve chosen Mexican flavours inspired by a trip to Oaxaca. If you still have some cold turkey or even leftover roast chicken or pork – you simply must try (how bossy am I…) turkey tonnata, a twist on the Italian veal tonnata served with a properly tasty mayo based sauce laced with tuna, anchovies and capers, which by the way makes a fantastic present to include in a hamper of sauces. If roast goose or duck was your Christmas day feast, there’s probably not much on the carcass but save all those little morsels to make a duck or goose broth.

Try this spicy Indian Brussels sprout recipe, delicious just served as an accompaniment but also a perfect base to add some diced cooked turkey or ham.

Left over cranberries keep well in the fridge or can be frozen but you can never have too many because they are delicious added to scones, muffins, pancakes and make a tasty plus a quick and easy apple and cranberry sauce or chutney, another handy edible gift.

If you have a surplus of tangerines or mandarins they are of course delicious in a fresh tasting salad or make them into marmalade. You probably won’t have time do that today but this could be therapeutic after Christmas exercise. I could go on and on but I’m running out of space. Some mincemeat make these utterly delicious scones and serve warm from the oven with left over brandy butter. Sublime.

Thank you to our readers. We wish you a happy, joyful and peaceful Christmas and many blessings and lots of new exciting food adventures in 2017.

Turkey stock

Keep your turkey carcass to make a stock, which may be used as the basis of a delicious soup or in St Stephen’s Day pie.


  • Turkey carcass
  • Turkey giblets, — heart, gizzard, neck
  • 8-10 pints (4.5l to 5.6l) water
  • 2 onions, cut in quarters
  • 2 leeks, split in two
  • 2 sticks celery, cut in half
  • 2 carrots, cut in half
  • A few parsley stalks
  • 6 peppercorns
  • No salt


Break up the carcass as much as possible. Put all the ingredients into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and skim off any scum or fat. Simmer for 4-5 hours, then strain and remove any remaining fat. If you need a stronger flavour, boil down the liquid in an open pan to reduce by one-half the volume. Do not add salt.

Note: Stock will keep for several days in the fridge. If you want to keep it for longer, boil it up again for 5-6 minutes, allow it to get cold and refrigerate again or freeze.

If you have a ham bone, it could also be used in the stock for extra flavour.

Turkey, orzo, pea and spring onion broth

This broth can be the basis of a flavoursome light soup to use up delicious morsels of cooked poultry.

Serves: 6


  • 1 litre (1 ¾ pints) well-flavoured turkey, chicken or pheasant stock
  • pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
  • 50g (2oz) orzo pasta
  • 2 tender stalks celery, finely sliced at an angle
  • 150 – 175g (5 - 6 oz) shredded cooked turkey, chicken or pheasant
  • 110g (4oz) frozen peas
  • 4 – 6 spring onions, sliced at an angle
  • lots of fresh coriander and/or fresh mint


Bring the stock to the boil; add the orzo, celery and chilli flakes. Cook for approximately 10 minutes or until the pasta is just cooked, add the peas and shredded turkey.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, correct the seasoning.

Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with lots of spring onion and fresh coriander and/or mint.

Cranberry bread and butter pudding

Bread and Butter Pudding is a most irresistible way of using up both leftover white bread and cranberries at Christmas. This is a particularly delicious recipe which can also be cooked and served in cappuccino cups.

Last minute Christmas dishes with Darina Allen

Serves: 6-8


  • 12 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed
  • 2 ozs (55g) butter, preferably unsalted
  • ½ teaspoon freshly-grated cinnamon or nutmeg
  • 7 ozs (200g) cranberries or a mixture of cranberries and sultanas
  • 16 fl ozs (475ml) cream
  • 8 fl ozs (225ml) milk
  • 4 large eggs, beaten lightly
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
  • 6 ozs (170g) sugar
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar for sprinkling on top of the pudding
  • Garnish
  • Softly-whipped cream
  • 1 x 8 inches (20.5cm) square pottery or china dish


Butter the bread and arrange 4 slices, buttered side down, in one layer in the buttered dish. Sprinkle the bread with half the nutmeg and half the cranberries, arrange another layer of bread, buttered side down, over the cranberries, and sprinkle the remaining spice and cranberries on top. Cover the raisins with the remaining bread, buttered side down.

In a bowl whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, vanilla essence, sugar and a pinch of salt. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve over the bread. Sprinkle the sugar over the top and let the mixture stand, covered loosely, at room temperature for at least 1 hour or chill overnight.

Bake in a bain-marie - the water should be half way up the sides of the baking dish. Bake the pudding in the middle of a preheated oven, 180°C/350°F/regulo 4, for 1 hour approx. or until the top is crisp and golden. Serve the pudding warm with some softly-whipped cream.

Note: This Bread and Butter Pudding reheats perfectly.

Turkey liver pâté with sourdough toasts and red onion marmalade

Duck or goose can also be used in this boozy recipe.

Last minute Christmas dishes with Darina Allen

Serves: 10-12 depending on how it is served


  • 225g (8oz) fresh organic turkey livers
  • 2 tablespoons brandy
  • 200-300g (8-12oz) butter (depending on how strong the livers are)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 large clove garlic, crushed
  • 225g (8oz) butter, cubed
  • freshly ground pepper
  • clarified butter, to seal the top
  • Accompaniment
  • Crusty brown bread, sourdough toasts or croutes
  • Red Onion Marmalade (see recipe below)


Wash the livers in cold water and remove any membrane or green-tinged bits. Dry on kitchen paper.

Melt a little butter in a frying pan; when the butter foams add in the livers and cook over a gentle heat. Be careful not to overcook them or the outsides will get crusty; all trace of pink should be gone. Add the crushed garlic and thyme leaves to the pan, stir and then de-glaze the pan with brandy, allow to flame or reduce for 2-3 minutes. Scrape everything with a spatula into a food processor. Purée for a few seconds. Allow to cool.

Add the butter. Purée until smooth. Season carefully, taste and add more butter.

This pâté should taste fairly mild and be quite smooth in texture. Put into pots or into one large terrine. Tap on the worktop to knock out any air bubbles.

Spoon a little clarified butter over the top of the pâté to seal.

Serve with crusty brown bread, sourdough toasts or croutes. This pate will keep for 4 or 5 days in a refrigerator.

Watchpoint: It is essential to cover chicken liver pate with a layer of clarified or even just melted butter, otherwise the pâté will oxidise and taste bitter and turn grey in colour.

Duck or Goose Liver Pâté with Melba Toast

Substitute duck livers for chicken livers in the above recipe. You may need to increase the amount of butter used depending on the strength of the livers.

Sherry may be substituted for brandy and its really good.

To Serve

Fill the kilner jar with a handful of mixed salad leaves and fresh herbs. Serve with two slivers of toasted focaccia.

Chicken Liver Pâté with Pedro Ximenez Jelly

Soak a sheet of gelatine in cold water for 10 minutes, when soft discard the water. Warm 150ml of Pedro Ximenez gently in a saucepan, add the gelatine and allow to melt. Cool, then spoon over the top of each ramekin of pâté.

Red onion marmalade

Red Onion Marmalade will keep for months and is especially delicious with pâtés and terrines of meat, game and poultry. Ordinary onions may also be used.

Makes: 450ml (16fl.oz)


  • 700g (1½ lb) white or red onions
  • 110g (4oz) butter
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 155g (5½oz) castor sugar
  • 7 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons cassis
  • 250ml (scant ½pint) full bodied red wine


Peel and slice the onions thinly.

Heat the butter in a sauté pan until it becomes a rich nut brown (beurre noisette) — this will give the onions a delicious flavour but be careful not to let it burn. Toss in the onions and sugar, add the salt and freshly ground pepper and stir well.

Cover and cook for 30 minutes over a gentle heat, keeping an eye on the onions and stirring from time to time with a wooden spatula.

Add the sherry vinegar, red wine and cassis. Cook for a further 30 minutes uncovered, stirring regularly.

This onion jam must cook very gently (but don’t let it reduce too much). When it is cold, skim off any butter which rises to the top and discard.

Pour into sterilised jars as for jam

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