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Brendan O'Connor on Archie Radio one Andrew text to say that Tony Bates is the Dr Frasier Crane, we're missing from Irish radio. We need a regular slot. Andrew, you have a regular slot. He's a regular slot here. Any time he wants to come in, he's always welcome. Now, Rory O'Connor, the presenter of How to Cook Well and co-founder of the Ballymaloe Cookery School. How are you? I'm very well, thanks very well, Brendan.


Good. Unless you actually you're chocolatey tones or the soothing. By the way, I need to wind down the end of this traumatic show. The last time I was talking to you, we were discussing your book, The Joy of Food, and we were talking about how the experience and the ritual around eating and meals is about so much more than just the food itself. And I suppose that's never more true, really, than at Christmas, is that.


Yeah, I think so. I mean, at Christmas, you're you're trying to create the DLO, you know, so setting the table and making everything look more beautiful and feel more special is just even more important. So this year I'll be using I always do lots of natural things on the table like Ivy and Holly and believes, you know, branches, tangerines, things that you can either eat afterwards or else put on the fire compost. But, you know, making that sort of special moment and it's the time of the year when you you know, you pull out some of those dishes that you only use once a year.


It might be a big, big platter up as long as your mother for the for putting the turkey on and all of those things. You know, they've got memories invested in them, often very precious memories. So I love all that part of Christmas. Yeah. What are your own precious memories of Christmas as a kid? Well, there are millions. I was one of nine children, so a lot of cooking, which we all helped with.


There was a sort of a rota, which is a kind of a code word to describe, you know, a plan made out. And we all had our jobs. So some of us helped peeling spuds. We all help with the wash up, you know, clearing the table, you know, setting the table, all those sort of things. And I think it's really important that this was not to abandon the cook and not to forget about the cook.


You know, there's nothing worse than being in the kitchen and hearing raucous laughter coming from the next room that you're not involved in. But I'm very happy. I should just stick in at this point that Dr Mike Ryan does suggest that we peeling potatoes in a separate room and that we all don't be crowded into the kitchen. Well, there is not enough to spoil everything. The absolute numbers numbers, of course, would be much smaller this year and it'll be possible for people because it won't be so many people sitting around around the table.


But, you know, just I mean, how many Christmases do we have in our lives? You know, those sort of moments? I mean, these are the days, in a way. And this year, above all other years, we need that sort of joy of of of that. And, you know, for something to go, it doesn't need to be expensive or, ah, shishya ritzy. It can be just a little bit talked about and sort of natural in many ways.


Yeah. Yeah. I bet you secretly you have cheap tinsel all over the house and do you have your house laid off from the outside would blow up centres and all that kind of thing. This is just a ruse for the radio that I just use natural products. So listen, I think that's a good point you make there that a lot of us are thinking I get over the Christmas and oh, sure, it's only one Christmas and everything. But you're saying no, make it special.


Make it meaningful as they as the words, you know, I'm so planning is important. Do you think it's all in the planning? Yeah, it is definitely. I mean, you've got to decide what your kitchen is capable of doing. I mean, if you've only got one oven, there's no point having things that you need two ovens for. So and the other thing is everything doesn't need to be eaten on the same day. You can have the ham one day and then the turkey the next day.


Or, of course, you can cook the ham. And the other thing you can do is prepare as many vegetables ahead as you can imagine. You can make this like red cabbage, carrots and pasta mash, the cranberry sauce, the bread sauce stuff, and that can be made a few days ahead. Brendan, would you peel the potatoes the day before for for Rosie and leave them in water? No, I wouldn't. I must take the starch that does a bit, really.


And I think they're much better peeled on the morning, but that can become, you know, don't do it on your own. Not someone to help you with the distance involved, of course. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And listen, so that's interesting. Now, what you say about that, I think this notion of like a giant board and then half a piece as well, like it can be a bit detro, wouldn't you just say?


Definitely. I mean what's really important as well, because the amount of meat we eat around Christmastime, not everybody, but a lot of us, you know, loads of vegetables and fruits and you know, it's OK to cook the ham the previous day. And, you know, I'm quite happy serving room temperature, lovely slice carved ham beside the lovely warm turkey. I mean, I think that works absolutely perfectly as far as I'm concerned anyway. Yeah.


Would you would you be strict on turkey and ham? You wouldn't break out of that project. I love absolutely love turkey and I love ham as well. But, you know, if I if a goose landed up, I mean, how about and again, you know, a great organic roast chicken that you can cook with ease and enjoy is better than a turkey that not. Absolutely, and I don't know, maybe it's my cooking, but you're going to get a lot more moisture and a nice chicken, and I find whatever you do with the bird, all the tricks, the turkeys always a bit dry.


Like I find it's definitely more difficult to cook, no doubt about this. But then people have people are wedded to tradition, aren't they, like all the different people who are going to be at the table? They all have kind of things they most have like, don't they? Yeah. I mean, if you if the bread sauce doesn't doesn't appear, someone's going to say, well, where's the pretzels are? You know, out of the stuffing is changed from what your mother always made.


I got somebody with a little sort of quiver on the lower lip. But, you know, you can spice it up with cranberries. You know, in most cases nowadays is nearly always one person who wants a bit of heat in the food. You're a little bit of chili. So I make a spiced cranberry sauce. I add some chilli and ginger and garlic and star anise to us. And it's not so far away from the original recipe to upset the traditionalists.


But at the same time, it brings a bit a bit of zing. Bit of fun. Yeah, OK. And we put we have that recipe and we put it up on the website RTG for Foregrounded. It's fairly straightforward, it's very straightforward. It could be made a week ahead. You could give it as gifts actually to be honest. And it'll keep and you'll still be looking at it in March if you want to come here. Did we.


I never remember cranberry sauce being a thing when I was young as an American importer. What it is in America, I mean, cranberries grow wild in this country and at one stage actually aboard the moon are involved in trying to promote growing cranberries in the Midlands around the bog of island there, which is perfect terroir. And now, given what's happening with the bugs on, this could be an interesting moment sort of to revisit that possibly. But also wild cranberries were a thing.


I think Bugbear is was one of the name there was sometimes. Yes. So in fact, I'm getting wild cranberries down from the Midlands to Cork next week and we'll be having those for Christmas. But imagine if all of the Irish cranberries, it's a bit like the apples I spoke about when I spoke to a few weeks ago. There are all of the cranberries really that are being sold in Ireland this week and for the next few weeks, which are 99 percent importers, they could all be Irish.


Yeah, it'd be exciting. Wouldn't but they are recent and no doubt about. Yeah, sprouts can be quite divisive. Where do you stand. Absolutely. Love them. Yeah, me too. And I'm pretty traditional about a big pot of boiling sort of water. No, let's cut them in half before you cook them and they cook in much, much less than half the time and then toss with a of plenty of black pepper and butter or olive oil.


Fantastic. And they will take all sorts of other flavours as well. I mean, leftover sprouts, you know, tossed with a bit of cherries. I mean, I think there are a couple of things. Yeah, right. Yeah. I think there's a couple of things you should definitely have in the house, you know, emergency sort of foods for getting you to Christmas. And I say Giarrusso is one of them. I mean, lovely, beautiful Irish material.


Yeah. It's obviously a brilliant one from being in Scotland in West Cork. I'd always have that in stock because that's also great. Brendan, if you've left over rosebuds, you just kind of crush them and then and then chop some trees to shoot them and bang them in the oven, hot oven, and they make the most delicious feast. In some ways, the leftover foods of Christmas are better, are at least definitely just as good as kind of the main events and as much less stress involved with the leftovers generally than there is with the main event.


Absolutely. And people can kind of look after themselves a bit the next day to us, and then they want to know exactly what's your Christmas sandwich, our Christmas sandwich, a good bread. And Masato better make a loaf of bread that we spoke about last time or Weitzel, but for that matter, the ham and turkey. I'd like to add a little bit of thinly sliced, good quality Irish cheddar cheese to us. OK, so moreish. And then I like loads of salad around Christmas time and loads of fruit.


So I put a few salad leaves in there as well. I mean, I left over uncooked brussel sprouts or red cabbage, very thinly sliced. I can also be to standards that are just turned into a little bit of mayonnaise to make a little bit of homemade coleslaw as such is going to horrify people. I warm up their sprouts the next day to put their heart into a sandwich, but that we've in the last few years we've done Darina has a kind of a mash sprout in the big salad verbally, Brooke.


That's right. It's the cream and butter. And it's actually for people who don't like cooking sprouts in the house, it's very it's a very acceptable way of doing it, I think. Yeah, well, I think, you know, what you said about what you do in your house that's starting at Christmas, you know, I mean, it's kind of about the joy and and it goes back to the glow of the table and the glow of family.


And there'll be others this year for sure. But, you know, we don't you know, it's not like we live in sort of a Downton Abbey type scenario. Our tables are small, but just make them gorgeous, you know? OK, listen, Rory, I'll talk to you soon. Thanks a million for that.