I met with my Irish friend Faela a little while back and asked her about the way her and her family spend Christmas, and about the many food delights they will have.
She usually spends Christmas with her husband (and now cute little baby boy) at her parents' house an hour from Dublin.
On Christmas Eve, the last of the shopping is done and everybody stops somewhere for a drink. Then, back home, they all have another drink with some homemade brown bread with smoked salmon on top, a drizzle of lemon juice and a sprinkle of chopped spring onions. Her mother will also have made a delicious beef and Guinness casserole the day before to have on Christmas Eve (I believe that this year's hot dish will be a lovely seafood chowder).
After the meal, they all go to the pub for a little while and then head to midnight mass.
On Christmas morning, some freshly baked cranberry muffins are popped out of the oven and served with a cup of coffee. Everybody has to wait until they each have a muffin and a hot drink before sitting by the Christmas tree and open the presents. (Faela's mother makes the muffins batter the day before so it just needs to be spooned in the cases and baked.)
Afterwards, they have a breakfast of scrambled eggs with smoked salmon served on toast or bagels, accompanied by a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Then, it is time to get the food ready for the big Christmas dinner.
As an appetiser, Faela's family eats some more smoked salmon on homemade brown bread and drinks a glass of Prosecco or a Gin and Tonic.
For starter, they have foie gras on toast (brought back all the way from the South of France for the occasion) and for those who do not like eating foie gras, there are also prawns served with chilli and garlic.
For the main part of the meal, they eat turkey (stuffed with a bread, onion and sage stuffing), Christmas ham (that will have been boiled the night before), accompanied by side dishes of potato croquettes, Brussels sprouts, carrots and parsnips (roasted with honey, or mashed), sausage meat stuffing, homemade cranberry sauce and gravy.
Then, they wait several hours before dessert.
For dessert, they will eat the traditional plum pudding (made mid-October) - served with brandy butter and cream - and Christmas cake. They also have a pavlova and mince pies (Faela told me she likes opening the top of the mince pies, add some brandy butter in it and put the top back, it sounds delicious!).
The wines they drink at dinner time are all French and come from the Languedoc region in the South of France.
After dinner and desserts, they all rest and spend time together. Around midnight or 1am that night, they all go and get the leftovers to make some huge Christmas sandwiches (let me tell you they sound absolutely fantastic!).
On St Stephen's Day (26th December), Faela and her brother like to use the leftovers to make themselves a second Christmas dinner; sometimes, they also make a pasta dish with the leftovers too.
And the day after, they will all enjoy a delicious turkey soup made using the bones for the broth.
After my interview with Faela, I was really starving and dreaming of a beautiful Irish Christmas dinner. I am spending Christmas in Ireland this year, and from the sound of it, I should prepare my stomach for many extraordinary delights.
I used two of the recipes that Faela gave me and tweaked them a bit to share with you. So keep scrolling down and you will find two recipes: sausage meat stuffing and stuffed potatoes, and cranberry and white chocolate mini Christmas muffins.