Gary O'Hanlon's Festive Recipes

Culinary director Gary O'Hanlon shares his favourite recipes for the festive season!

Blueberry Compote with Apricots & Dates

This has always been my go to compote for a cheese board or to serve with scones and cream. It’s what I use in The Kitchen @ Arnotts and I absolutely love it. It was also what I used as far back as 2001 when I cooked in Devlins of Boston so you can say it’s a tried and tested formula.

As it lasts a long time, making a little more than what you need will only save you time in the long run. Also, due to the fact that you must reduce water, sugar, fruit & alcohol, in essence we are making a caramel of sorts so thus it requires a certain volume of water to allow us to maintain high temperatures whilst it reduces.

  • 150g dates
  • 150g dried apricots
  • 250g fresh blueberries
  • 100ml port
  • 00ml Bristol cream sherry
  • 50ml Drambuie
  • 50ml Grand Marnier
  • 1.5litres of hot water
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 300g brown sugar
  • 200g frozen blueberries


  1. Combine all the ingredients except for the frozen blueberries into a heavy based non-stick pot. Bring to the boil and reduce rapidly until it’s reduced by more than half the starting quantity and until it coats the back of a cold spoon
  2. Approx. 40-45 minutes
  3. Remove from the heat Blend with a hand blender (stick blender) then fold in the frozen blueberries. This’ll help chill the compote quicker but it’ll also add to the flavor and texture. Once cool, place in the fridge in an airtight container.
  4. Always remember to remove from the fridge at least one hour prior to use in order to allow it to come to room temperature.

Brussels Sprouts with Smoky Bacon in Truffled Parmesan Cream

This dish will change your opinion on Brussels Sprouts forever. Without doubt, they are a marmite ingredient- you either love them or hate them. On their own and boiled to within an inch of their lives they are simply horrid, but I love this. The smoked bacon can help mask that harshness that they bring and the cheesy truffled mornay sauce they’re baked in is simply divine. A must try dish to really jazz up Christmas dinner.

  • 2 small net bags of Brussels Sprouts
  • 150g smoked bacon
  • 2 small onions
  • 100ml white wine
  • 300ml cream
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1tbspn cornflour
  • 100g grated parmesan cheese
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • 4 sprigs of chopped fresh thyme, chopped fine
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 2tsp truffle oil


  1. Peel and quarter the brussels sprouts and drop into boiling salted water and cook to al-dente then plunge into iced water and drain. Set aside.
  2. Heat a heavy based frying pan and add a drizzle of oil
  3. Add the bacon and onion and saute until lightly coloured
  4. Drop in the chopped thyme then the wine and reduce by half
  5. Now add the sprouts followed by the cream and bring to the boil.
  6. Whisk in the stock cube, truffle oil and the cornflour and turn down to a simmer
  7. Add in the parmesan, adjust the seasoning and finish with chopped parsley

Celeriac & White Onion Soup

This is a cracking soup to serve on Christmas Day, either as a starter or a soup course. If making it on its own and not a course for a meal and you want to bulk it up a bit, adding lardons of smoked bacon, diced and poached potato or even garlicky herb croutons works really well.

Celeriac is a very versatile vegetable and has a beautiful earthy flavour. It’s amazing to use mixed with potatoes for a mash (make with a 50/50 split). You can then use the celeriac mash to top a shepherd’s pie or use with bangers ‘n’ mash.

  • Serves 4-6
  • 1 head of celeriac, peeled and diced
  • 2 small white onions, peeled and sliced
  • 2 stalks of celery, peeled and chopped small
  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2 knorr vegetable stock cubes or low sodium vegetable cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Water to cover
  • 100ml cream (optional)


  1. Place the celeriac, potato, onion, celery, 3 pinches of salt and 3 pinches of pepper into a pot
  2. Cover with cold water and bring to the boil
  3. Add in two vegetable stock cubes and boil until the vegetables are tender
  4. Blitz with a hand blender or a food processor.
  5. The soup will be a little thick so add cream until you get the desired consistency
  6. f you’d prefer to keep it healthy replace cream with water in the last step to adjust the consistency.
  7. Adjust the seasoning and serve.
  8. Cool and then freeze in small containers for future use.

Cinnamon Mascarpone Mixed Berry Eton Mess

The key to this dish is to always serve it in a bowl that isn’t see-through. It looks like it says in the title- A Mess!

The key thing is to get a lovely border of cream to finish and then place back in the glazed berries (for those who are at, or have ever been at, one of my demos you’ll know exactly what I mean).

  • 8 meringue nests (store bought is fine or one you made yourself)
  • 2 punnets raspberries
  • 2 punnets strawberries
  • 2 punnets blueberries
  • 1 punnet blackberries
  • 1tbspn sugar
  • 500ml cream
  • 300g mascarpone
  • 1tbspn of ground cinnamon
  • Scrapings of 2 vanilla pods or 1tsp vanilla extract


  1. Add the vanilla bean, mascarpone & cinnamon to the cream and whip to stiff peak
  2. Add ¾ of the mascarpone cream to a bowl, break the meringue on top
  3. Trim the strawberries and quarter then add all the berries to a separate bowl and sprinkle over the sugar. Gently fold in the sugar without breaking the berries until you see them shine. Approx 2 minutes
  4. Now add half the glazed berries to the meringue and cinnamon mascarpone cream and fold together.
  5. Place the eton mess into your serving bowl and then fill a piping bag with the remaining cream.
  6. Pipe a border of cream around the top of the bowl leaving a gap in the middle.
  7. Now fill the gap with the remaining glazed berries and serve.

Gary’s Mulled Wine

  • Gary’s Mulled Wine Spice Pack (star anise, bay leaf, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg) *exclusive to Arnotts
  • 100ml orange juice & 100ml 7up
  • 200g sugar
  • 1 lemon & 1 orange
  • 6 drops vanilla extract
  • 2 bottles of Merlot (or any deep flavoured red)


  1. Put the sugar, vanilla, spice bag contents, peel and juice from the lemon & orange into large saucepan and place over a medium heat. Cover with some Red Wine & boil to a syrup.
  2. Add in remaining ingredients and when warm, serve

Goose Fat, Polenta Crusted Maris Piper Roasties

Maris pipers, hands down, make the best chips, best baked potatoes and the best roasties. Throw in the flavour from goose fat, herbs and the texture from the polenta and you’ll never make a roastie any other way again.

  • 10 peeled maris piper potatoes
  • 4tbspn fine polents
  • 200ml goose fat
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • salt & pepper


  1. Cover the potatoes with cold water, season well, and boil gently until just cooked through
  2. Strain the water, place back in the pot and back on the heat to remove excess moisture.
  3. Give the pot a few stiff shakes, not so much as to break the potatoes in half but enough the ruffle the edges and expose lovely floury bits
  4. Heat the oil in a roasting tray
  5. Add the potatoes to the hot oiled roasting tray and turn in the oil
  6. Season with sea salt
  7. Now coat in polenta, turn and coat again
  8. Add in the herbs
  9. Place in a pre-heated oven at 180C and bake until golden
  10. Turn and repeat
  11. Serve.


This is an old French-Canadian recipe that has been passed down through generations. This is traditionally eaten on Christmas Eve, after midnight Mass.

  • 500g Unsalted Butter
  • 1kg plain flour
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 400ml Iced Water
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 100ml milk
  • 8 maris piper potatoes (mashed without seasoning)
  • 1kg pork mince
  • 1kg beef mince
  • 1tbspn ground cinnamon
  • 1tbspn ground cloves
  • 3tbspn dried sage
  • salt & ground white pepper to taste


For the Pastry

  1. Mix flour, butter & salt together until it resembles a fine breadcrumb
  2. Add the iced water and mix together until it forms a soft pastry dough
  3. Allow it to rest in the fridge, covered for at least 30 minutes prior to rolling

For the Filling

  1. Heat a heavy based non-stick pot
  2. Add the pork & beef mince, season well and cook through
  3. Strain off excess fat but retain a little.
  4. Add the dried sage and spices, mix well
  5. Now add in the mashed potatoes until the mixture is well bound Adjust seasoning
  6. Play around with the cinnamon and cloves until you get a flavor that works for you.
  7. Add a little of the cinnamon and clove at a time as they are quite pungent
  8. Grease a deep 9” cake tin.
  9. Cut a 1lb piece of pastry and roll it out in a large circle. A couple of mm thick
  10. Line the cake tin and fill it to the lip with meat pie mixture
  11. Cut a 350g piece of pastry and roll it out to the same depth as the base
  12. Mix the egg yolk and butter together then dip in a pastry brush and run it along the exposed edge of the base pastry layer
  13. Now add the pastry topping and press the edges together with a fork
  14. Brush the top with the egg wash
  15. Place into a pre-heated oven at 200C for 12 minutes, then turn it down to 180 and cook for a further 15-25 minutes or until it’s fully cooked
  16. Leave to rest for at least 45 minutes before cutting
  17. Serve with Heinz ketchup
  18. Enjoy.